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Winning Hearts And Minds

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries
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Sometime in the 1960's, our culture started to break with the moral foundation upon which the nation was built. Things have been moving in that direction ever since, but the pace of change has been so deceptively slow that it's hard to say for certain when in the last 40 years the line of decency was crossed. But as we look back on how low the culture has descended, it's clear the line has been crossed. In the 1950's, networks would not show a married couple sleeping in the same bed or skirts above the knee. Today, after 9pm, we can find nudity and profanity on basic cable. Society at large is not offended by this at all, but rather seems to embrace the new found freedom that has resulted from the break with what they see as the tired ethics of their long-ago, less enlightened religious past.

Christians have not been idle while this has been going on. Falwell's moral majority launched the fight in the political arena in the early eighties and enjoyed some success, and Canadian organizations such as Tristan Emmanuel's ECP are doing what they can to bring about change in the Canadian parliament. Despite these efforts, Christians are losing the battle. The evidence is all around us - things on television and in movies are getting worse, not better.

The reason we're losing amounts to simple arithmetic. We live in a democracy, and those who want a return to moral decency are far outnumbered by those who want nothing to do with Christian ethics, which they perceive as primitive and regressive. In any battle, numbers mean everything and so we seem destined to lose in the long run.

But yet, what sometimes seems destined to be an obvious victory by a vastly superior army actually results in a protracted conflict as the weaker of the two armies resists all attempts to destroy it. This happens not on the battlefield, where armies oppose each other in open combat. It happens in the streets, and it happens in the home. It happens when the weaker army calls upon those people standing on the sidelines and enlists them to their fight. The weaker army grows in strength and numbers as they convince people of the righteousness of their cause. This kind of army can never be defeated, for every member who is killed in combat enlists two more fighters before they die. Eventually, the strong army must withdraw and accept their defeat. In combat, this is often referred to as "winning hearts and minds", and military commanders understand very well how important this phenomenon can be in turning the tide of war. That is how the early Christians overcame the greatest empire of it's time and toppled Rome itself. It was not by military might. It was with conviction, perseverance and righteousness.

That is what we have to do - take the fight to the streets and win the hearts and minds.

When you see something filthy on television, you can write to your government, but you will affect little change when there are ten other people in your own neighborhood who want even more violence and profanity to be permitted. But what if you introduced those ten people to Christ and permitted the Holy Spirit to guide what they watch on TV? Your single letter would turn into eleven. Likewise, you could petition the head of the network for higher standards, but what if his next-door neighbor invited him to Church next Sunday instead? If we each brought a single person to Christ, it would not take long to tip the scales.

I've written often about the futility of expecting non-Christians to accept the Christian standards of morality. When we stand back and call out to an indifferent society to change it's ways, all that happens is that Christianity is ridiculed, maligned and ignored. On that front, the war has already been lost. Our only hope is to win back the culture one person at a time.

The next time you see something obscene on television and decide it's time to enter the fray, stop first and look around your workplace or neighborhood and see if there is anyone on the sidelines whom you can enlist to the cause. Introduce him or her to Jesus Christ, and let them wade into the trenches by your side.

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What are we really "fighting" for? Is it hearts and souls, or the mere appearance of moral decency? And let's not forgot that this is not our fight, it's God's, who intends to use us as HE sees fit. If all the make believe sex and violence was instantly outlawed, would that somehow make people more moral? More saved? It's a heart problem, not a legalism problem. And why do we need to write letters? If more Chirstians=higher moral standards, won't ratings plummet for shows promoting immoral values? We need to stop the obsession with entertainment immorality and focus on the sin, and the resulting pain, occuring in the real lives of people.
10/9/2007 9:44:23 AM - anonymous

Yes, Christians focus WAY too much on the symptoms and not enough on the real issues. Saving souls is what is worth fighting for, not indecency or immorality, they are just the signs of the times. That is exactly what Arsin is saying in this reflection - forget the letter writing and the phone calls and the angry interviews on TV and Radio - get out there save souls and bring people to Jesus! If we just fight the symptoms, even if we win, what have we gained? If we save souls, the indecency problem will solve itself. Thanks for your comments, anonymous, and way to go Arsin, you're right on.
10/10/2007 8:12:39 PM - marklang, Member of Delve into Jesus since 4/3/2007

Thank you anonymous. I can't tell from your comment if you're completely in agreement with everything that I wrote, but judging from what you wrote in response, it certainly seems like we agree on the main points.

Thanks, Mark.
10/10/2007 8:16:35 PM - Michael Lane

In this modern age of people's values and mind-set have changed so much that it has strayed away from what is right and true. It grieves the Father heart of God to see his children stray but he does provide them a way back to him. Indeed, in order to effectively win hearts and souls, one have to return to the basic models shown in the holy bible.
1/7/2008 8:46:07 AM - anonymous

Thank you for this Article!
You have expanded my horizons!
I see that only God can
truly clean up a person!
6/28/2008 1:54:44 AM - Ignited~Faith, Member of Delve into Jesus since 2/20/2008

Yes America maybe going a different direction, but it is most important to know that God of Yesterday, is God of Today and God of Tomorrow. Your article is dead on and I must repent too for not being on my knees enough pleating for forgiveness for America and that I need to be showing people the real Truth that is in Christ Jesus.
As Christians we still must remain true to our beliefs that our strength comes from the Lord and not man. We must remember to pray for our neighbors and fellow workers and ask God, how do I approach them to talk to them about you. He needs to provide the words, but we must be ready to go and be those soldiers.
One final thought, we who claim Christ need to tear down the walls of denominations and stand as ONE united Church on Earth for our Savior and Lord. We need to stand on the words that truly matter, those found in The Holy Bible.
11/5/2008 11:27:27 AM - anonymous

Love the article, but I'd like to take it one step further. One word: Discipleship. It seems to me that we have a lot of Christians but few disciples who actually understand what and why they believe and are committed to Christ's teaching. Why else would the divorce, out of wedlock birth and promiscuity rates among church-goers be so high? Why else would the Church be so irrelevant in most communities, especially our largest cities? The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 commands Christians to make disciples of all nations by baptizing them and teaching them to obey His commands. What good is inviting someone to church or telling them about Christ if the follow up of investing the time and effort into training, teaching, rebuking and correcting continues to be neglected? Doing so will only continue our streak of ineffectiveness and irrelevancy.
11/6/2008 9:17:35 AM - anonymous

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