Compassion For the Lost Part I
If you want to talk about a struggle with issues thrown at you, just look at the last few days of my life. It’s a struggle in understanding some views thrown at me out of nowhere, as if God has suddenly said, “Well, you’ve been preaching and teaching about examining differing worldviews. Are you ready to walk the walk?”
Then suddenly, it hit.
One of the issues that was brought up by Kristin Braun, in her post critiquing well-known writer Nancy Pearcey for some statements made in her book, Total Truth:
Artists are often the barometers of society, and by analyzing the world-views embedded in their works we can learn a great deal about how to address the modern mind more effectively. Yet many Christians critique culture one-dimensionally, from a moral perspective alone, and as a result they come across as negative and condemning. At a Christian college, I once took an English course from a professor whose idea of critiquing classic works of literature was to tabulate how many times the characters used bad language or engaged in illicit sexual relations. He seemed blind to the books’ literary quality – whether or not they were good as literature. Nor did he teach us how to detect the worldviews expressed there. Similarly, a Christian radio personality recently wagged a stern finger at Elvis Presley for the immoral content of his songs, without ever asking whether his songs were good as music (which they certainly were), or raising other worldview questions, such as why popular culture has a powerful impact. When the only form of cultural commentary Christians offer is moral condemnation, no wonder we come across to non-believers as angry and scolding.
Our first response to the great works of human culture-whether in art or technology or economic productivity—should be to celebrate them as reflections of Godâ€™s own creativity.
Now, I understand where Kristin is coming from, and, in fact, do agree with her. But if we only read that statement, we don’t fully understand the context of what Pearcey is working to say. The context is speaking of Francis Schaeffer, who was a huge influence in Pearcey’s life.
“Even when raising serious criticisms,” says Nancy Pearcey, “He expressed a deep compassion for people caught in the trap of false and harmful worldviews.”
Previously, she stated that “even when we analyze where they [human culture] go wrong, it should be in a spirit of love.”
When I, as a Christian, confront non-believers, especially those involved in the arts, I must realize two things. First, I must understand that the talents they have are given to them by God, but they are using those gifts incorrectly. Secondly, these men and women are the same as I am–the worst sinner there ever was. They’re just as deep into sin as I am, or, I should say, was. And that is a huge reason we must confront them in love. Not a love that says “God will fill that hole in your heart” but rather a love that says “I care for you. You’re sinning and you’re going to hell. I don’t want you there!” And, as I said, we must realize that the gifts given to these men and women are given to them from God. But, unfortunately, they are using them for the world.
“How many [Christians] reach out to the artists with compassion?” asks Nancy Pearcey, “How many do the hard work of crafting real answers to the questions they are raising? How many cry out to God on behalf of people struggling in the coils of false world-views?”
I think the statement made by Pearcey following this is profound:
“The best way to drive out a bad world-view is by offering a good one, and Christians need to move beyond criticizing the culture to creating culture.”
This is something we are called to do, and all of us have fallen short. Unfortunately, many of us get caught up in speaking out against things, but never take action against that which we criticize. We talk, but we never walk. Laziness reigns as we criticize, but never take action. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for critics of the culture–I am one! But this criticism must be done in the right manner, and must offer answers with compassion for the lost and a desire to see them in heaven, not dying in their sins any longer. We don’t want them wrapped up in a false world-view, slowly being choked and pulled down into eternal damnation.
“Love your fellowman, and cry about them if you cannot bring them to Christ,” says Spurgeon. “If you cannot save them, you can weep over them. If you cannot give them a drop of water in Hell, you can give them your heart’s tears while they are still in this body.”
Another great quote from Spurgeon:
As the fisherman longs to take fish in his net, as the hunter pants to bear home his spoil, as the mother pines to clasp her lost child to her bosom, so do we faint for the salvation of souls.
We must feel such a compassion for the lost that we do not despise them, but rather long for their day of the salvation. How can we sleep at night knowing that thousands are dying without Christ? What are we doing now to save them? Are we offering more than criticism?