If Christians are going to become “reformers,” we need to be Provoked, Not Offended. This is one of the conclusions of Gabe Lyons in his book The Next Christians.
The tendency we have is to get offended and withdrawn. This was characterized in the 1990’s with the frequent calls to boycott organizations among evangelicals (for example: The boycott of Disney). Evangelicals discovered the even though we are really big in numbers, we weren’t quite as big as we thought. Careless withdrawal from the world is what the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day.
It’s real easy to operate like a Pharisee – I know I have. I assume most Pharisees started out with pure motives. In an appreciation for the spiritual life, a Pharisee wants to look, act and sound spiritual. However, when outward appearances become more important than the condition of the heart, then a religious spirit has overtaken those initial motivations.
Instead, we should be Provoked, To Engage. We need to see how we can engage with those people who offend us, and be the light of Christ. As always, there are cautions that need to be observed and boundaries that need to be defined when engaging culture. However, Lyons put it well when he wrote, “For the next Christians, running away is not an option.”