Have you been asked about your views on the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in “Dobbs” (Roe v Wade)? I don’t mean asked about views in the sense of simply rehearsing agreements among friends. Rather, asked about your view by people you do not know, or perhaps by people you do know, but do not always agree with you.
There is a leadership failure running rampant in modern Christian communities. It is a failure to lead in the most fundamental of ways, and this leadership failure is infecting the people watching and following with leaders. The failure? It is the problem of acedia.
Acedia, according to The American Heritage Dictionary means “spiritual torpor”, lack of concern, listlessness. Acedia is the result of leadership’s example, not individual bad attitudes. Acedia is withdrawing, timidity in engaging, slouching away from responsibility.
How does acedia intersect the subjects of abortion and discipleship? Leadership has to balance the development of two opposing forces in their people – the ability to reason with others – and the ability to be gracious, respectful and humble no matter how far apart our opinions may be. In abortion – or any other hot button issue disciples are not out to win arguments – they are out to win curiosity.
In the realm of disciples, disciples are commanded to be people who can, and who want to interact with all kinds of people, some who may be like me, but also people unlike me. A familiar New Testament passage reinforcing this idea is 1st Peter 3.15, to…always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have – and give answers with gentleness and respect. Leadership has to set the example among a few so that those few will bequeath that same lifestyle to others, multiplying the effect of reasoning disciples.
Some people I meet are deeply committed to abortion, while others are deeply motivated to the abolition of it. The conversation is literally, everywhere you go these days. So, if you talk to people at all in your daily life, you cannot expect to sit out this issue anymore. Nor should you. Nor should the people in your charge as disciples.
It is crucial that modern Christians cease-firing their force of logic and debates at people who disagree with them. The change in a person’s life is the work of Christ, not my debating skills. Now it is fair to say that we do need committed people who can debate and who can advocate at political and social levels these kinds of issues. But just as most of us are not called to be evangelists (Ephesians 4.8-11), so too, most of us are not called to be clarion calls transmitted in frustration or anger to a watching world. Every disciple – and all of us in Christ are disciples – are called to be able to winsomely engage people of all nationalities and cultures. Every one of us is under obligation to be able to give a reason “to anyone who asks” to talk about what we believe about Christ, and why. This kind of directive requires we be able to field questions about the big issues of our day, like abortion. But interestingly, we are not called to change minds and win arguments. We are called to give “the reason for the hope within”. In other words, using the big issues as an on-ramp, my duty as a disciple is to introduce people to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is up to Jesus to change minds, hearts and lives. But here’s where it gets really interesting, and where not much conversation takes place: if leaders don’t establish a culture of winsome and curious disciples who want to connect with all kinds of people – then few disciples like that will develop.
I don’t know which side of the abortion debate you’re on. I have a view I believe in, that I think best fits what a biblical disciple would hew to. But whether you agree with me or not, if you are a Christian, you and I have no options about being gracious, humble and connecting with people of all types. That’s who we are – that’s our identity in Christ. If you cannot interact on issues like abortion with gentleness and respect, and with the hope of Christ as the nexus of any discussion like that, then you may want to review what a disciple is expected to be, how a disciple is expected to behave, and most importantly, how you, leading others are to develop a social fabric motivating everyone in your Christian community to come along on that journey. And many will say no, by the way. Some will walk off. That’s OK. You do what Christ called you to do. If you lose access to some, let Jesus have that challenge. You? Lead. Make disciples. Have a gracious and humble answer that draws curiosity to behold the risen Christ.
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