If Christians want to “win” the culture war, then they should fight it the way Jesus fought it. Follow his example. Obey his teachings. Quit trying to get out of carrying his cross. (This is where the myth of “Christian” America is most pernicious, it makes us confuse the kingdom of this earth with the Kingdom.)
(This post is a follow-up to two previous posts, https://plstepp.com/2023/01/21/fighting-a-culture-war/ and https://plstepp.com/2023/01/23/the-cost-of-the-culture-war/.)
It’s all about discipleship. Follow Jesus’ example. Put Jesus’ teaching into practice.
1. When we see sin that needs to be confronted, Jesus tells us how to confront it.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.Matt 7.3-5
2. When we are treated unfairly because of our faith, follow his example. Imitate JESUS, just like the faithful disciples of the early church did.
How is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.1 Pet 2.20-23
Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.Heb 10.32–34
(I love the way Peterson translates the last part of v. 34, “you knew they couldn’t touch your real treasure”.)
3. Paul also says some interesting things about judging sin.
1 Cor 5.9–13
I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.
So if you want to win the culture war, you need to do what Jesus would do.
Share a meal. Buy a cup of coffee.
Shut up and listen to someone you disagree with. Reflect on what they say instead of trying to own them or get clicks. Listen to understand, not just to look for weaknesses. Invest your attention and compassion in the person who disagrees with you. Treat them the way Jesus would have treated them.
Love your enemies. Bless those who persecute you.
If someone tries to take your shirt, give them your coat as well. If someone tries to make you go one mile, go a second mile as well.
Remember that the way you treat the other person is the way you treat Jesus; “As you have done it to the least of these, …” Your love for Jesus is only as pure and deep as the love you show the person you disagree with the most deeply.
Remember: Jesus doesn’t need you to save him. He doesn’t want you to defend him. He wants you to FOLLOW him.