Not being a golfer I typically don't watch golf on Sunday afternoons.But I love watching the final holes on the last day of the Master's Tournament. I find it compelling to watch golfers perform at such a high level under such incredible pressure in front of such large crowds. The stakes couldn't be higher. Every shot is critical. Little room for a misplayed ball. There wasn't much tension this week as 21-year old Jordan Spieth held the lead through all four days of the tournament and won going away while displaying composure far beyond his 21 years. Over the four days Jordan set a number of Master's records, among them tying Tiger Woods for the lowest total score in the history of the Master's. With his performance Jordan Spieth distinguished himself as a rising star for the next generation of professional golf.
What is it that distinguishes us as followers of Christ? Within the church we would find a wide variety of answers to this question. And outside the church there are voices answering this question in pretty convincing ways - describing Christians as fearful, angry, hateful, bigoted and judgmental people. This narrative has found a lot of traction today. Sadly, we must confess that our conduct sometimes makes the narrative believable.
I wonder if what should distinguish us as followers of Christ has become less clear, maybe confusing, even to us?
It's a question that deserves thoughtful attention on our part. We're living in a critical time for God's ongoing mission in the world. All around the globe people are being killed simply for being Christians. In the U.S. there's an antagonism toward Christianity that seems more intentional and intense than in the past. Some suggest Christianity no longer has a meaningful voice or place in our cultural conversation. Our conduct as followers of Jesus is closely scrutinized. A thoughtless word or careless gesture is quickly exposed as the evidence of our hypocrisy and the proof of our irrelevance. In the minds of some Biblical values are no longer socially acceptable or politically correct.
I wonder if what should distinguish us as followers of Christ has become a more urgent conversation?
We're going to wrestle with this question in our next series. We'll use the New Testament letter of I Peter as the reference point for our discussion. In a letter that has enormous significance for the day we live in Peter described what a distinctively Christian way of life looks like within a culture that doesn't welcome it. We're calling the series 'Distinctive' and it begins Sunday April 19th.