The Alternative

I can get pretty worked up imagining that the furthering of the kingdom of God depends on me.

How am I going to convince people of the existence of God? How will I share the gospel with everyone in my life? When will I ever find time to research every trending controversy and know the biblical stand on it?

If the kingdom of God depends on me, we’re doomed.

Can you relate?

For many years I clammed up when faced with opportunities to speak biblical truth to people who don’t know Jesus primarily for fear of getting into a debate and botching my part – blemishing God’s reputation rather than representing Him.

Until I realized the greater truth.

Convincing people is not my job. Getting people to choose Jesus is not my job. Winning debates and turning people around, again, not my job.

Here’s my job – be the alternative – the one informed by Scriptural truth and pointing toward Christ.

That’s it.

When a friend or coworker sits across from me, I don’t have to become emotional about convincing them they’re wrong about their life choices, opinions, or disinterest in the living God. I just have to speak what is true, from my perspective, so they are presented with a biblical alternative.

They can take it or leave it. They are free to disagree, be offended, think I’m clueless, or tell me I’m nuts. But, they’ve been offered an alternative and so has everyone else listening in. A biblical perspective has been spoken, presented thoughtfully and creatively or simply and unapologetically, but it’s out there.

That’s my job.

The rest is between the listener and the Holy Spirit.

The same holds true on social media, newspapers, the general marketplace of ideas – we are not called to take on the world and shift the cultural tide. We’re simply called to be (and speak) the alternative to the way the world has opted to go.

It can be discouraging – this whole business of being a voice for the Jesus’ perspective. It can feel futile, fruitless, and unproductive at times. The truth is (the biblical truth) this struggle will worsen the closer the world hurtles toward the end. Fewer and fewer people will respond to the truth of Christ.

But, we still are called to do our job – to be (and speak) the alternative.

Like in the days of Noah.

I imagine that early on in his life, Noah engaged passionately in conversations with his neighbors – investing great energy in trying to convince them of God’s ways. Through the years, as he was laboring over his boat, suffering through jeers and scorn, he probably faithfully continued to speak (and be) the alternative to his community’s spiraling behaviors.

People didn’t respond, but that was God’s concern and theirs. Noah’s concern was the person he chose to be and the words he chose to speak, right up to the moment when God closed the door of the ark.

It makes the whole business far less stressful – sticking to my part of the job and leaving the rest to God and the listeners. And, I’m more faithful to speak up now.

What would happen if all the Jesus-followers kept the truth to themselves because no one seemed to be listening? Then the rest of the world would not hear there is an alternative to the culture of death, they would have no understanding that life is found in Jesus.

Be and speak the alternative to the way the world thinks is right. Don’t be preachy or judgy or angry or heated or condemning or arrogant or apologetic. Be humble. Be loving. Be direct. Listen more than you speak, but do not remain silent.

The kingdom of God does not depend on us – it resides within us – it has come within our hearts – and so we are the alternative – the walking, living, speaking, loving, light-filled alternative to the dark.

Be what you are in Christ and then speak up. Some will hear and each one of those is worth bearing the hardness of the rest.

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9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Katherine A. Clemons says:

    Thank you for this encouraging word. It came at the perfect time.

  2. Bruce A Cunningham says:

    Hey Lori-

    I’m sharing this with my whole Church email list!

    You nailed it again!

    Bruce

  3. Rob McCullough says:

    Thanks Lori. Very refreshing! This really blessed me because it’s very freeing. I knew this Truth already, but He took it deeper in my heart through your writing. I do know that it’s His Work in me, but I am very appreciative of your expressing and sharing the Truth in your words.

  4. Wendy says:

    Thank you Lori for The Alternative! Reading this has been a big blessing! The person who I roomed with on several of my mission trips had the gift of evangelism in a very big way! I witnessed her bring hundreds of people to Christ. She would speak to waiters, waitresses and desk clerks even in the hotels where we stayed. Bus drivers too! The Holy Spirit must have been working overtime in that women. This morning I received a letter from her and I thought after reading it, “Why can’t I do that?” She would just ask them a simple question sometimes and they would always be so receptive. Of course we were not in the US but in several countries in Central America. Once I visited her in NJ and we were at the mall and she talked to a young lady selling her sneakers. It was unbelievable! So sweet and so full of love, she really made an impact! People just don’t get it! They are wasting their lives away when they don’t know HIM! Thank you for taking my guilt away! My Lord blessed me with this blog because I realize it’s not me, but it’s the Holy Spirit doing all the work and He knows when there is fertile ground not I! The Alternative is inspiring to me and comforting and it also frees me to be me. I love the Lord so much, I just want everyone to know Him so you had me at the start! Thank you! Love your blogs!

  5. Ruby Hillier says:

    So timely- yesterday in our women’s Bible study we discussed the same thing and in another group this week as well. We keep reminding ourselves to love on people and not hit them over the head with the Bible. To pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues and actions and help us to say and do what he would have us say/do. Learning to do our part and also learning to not be jealous of the other’s part. To do what we CAN do and encourage each other in their gifts. I so enjoy and learn from your writing. Blessings to you and all who read. God is still on the throne. Remembering that the Holy Spirit is the one who draws people gives us the freedom to be who He wants us to be and not worry that we are not doing enough as long as we are obedient in our part.Love Ruby

  6. Sherry Carter says:

    I love this, Lori! Many years ago, I had a great opportunity to speak up about Christ. I was uncomfortable and afraid I’d screw it up, so I kept my mouth shut. I went to God with it and it should have been settled, but it still bothered me. I realize now that it was Satan’s whispers telling me I’d botched it and that person could go to Hell because I messed it up.

    Now I understand that God’s message doesn’t fall if I do. He is powerful enough to bring another person into someone’s life to speak of Him even though I was silent.

    Yes, being that alternative is my job but, praise God, His message doesn’t depend on me. As you said, we’d all be in trouble.

  7. Laura says:

    Thank You Lori. I have faced this battle recently within my own immediate family. Your Words are affirming that I need not fear their reaction or intimated by fear of them not learning the Truth through me. I am to model and speak truth when applicable and Trust God.

    The enemy is constantly stirring the pot when I seek a positive relationship with them that includes my walk with Christ. Your message is a bold reminder for me to walk in Faith, with the Spirit of Truth, directing the steps. It gets hard when those you hold dear, are seemingly blindsighted to what you are so passionate about.

  8. Debra Johnson says:

    I needed to read this today and I also need to get the book, “The Art of Hard Conversations.” The ladies Bible Study group that I facilitate has just recently finished “Jesus and the Beanstalk”. We took 2 years to get through it!! We savored and pondered over every scripture, story, question, etc. The kinds of questions you addressed in this article came up time and time again. We are now into a study of Mark for Lent, but even now the things I learned and the group learned are continuing to teach us. It’s cool how the Holy Spirit works that way!

    Thank you being a voice shining light into the darkness!

  9. Sandra Lovelace says:

    Thank you for another balanced, biblical approach to the Christian life.