In The News – Engage Your Enemies, Leader Says
Colorado Springs, Colo.—In a Christian Post column, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly recommends meeting with people who are your ideological opposites. For example, he talks with homosexual activists and abortion-rights groups, despite raised eyebrows from fellow Christians.
“To me, engaging with these men and women is not a matter of strategy,” Daly says. “It’s the way I’m trying to live out the Great Commission.”
He points to Saul, an ardent persecutor of the early church who became the Apostle Paul and wrote much of the New Testament. Other miraculous conversions include Christian writer C.S. Lewis, once a strong critic of the faith, and pro-life champion Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist.
Daly includes himself as an “unlikely story” because he grew up with no faith in a broken family and dysfunctional foster home. “You don’t know who the Holy Spirit will touch,” he says. “Today’s lost soul might be tomorrow’s advocate for Jesus Christ.”
Daly adds, “It’s not my job to hedge my bets on who’s most likely to “come around” on an issue, or who has the best chance at a faith conversion. Instead, what I have to do is simply be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and engage the culture, and those in it, with truth, love and sincerity.”
Evangelical scholar Michael Cromarti says this is a refreshing view in our polarized society. “The very idea that they’re saying ‘Look, we’ll be glad to talk with anybody’ is a different tack. As opposed to saying, ‘Everybody out there who disagrees with us is our enemy and we don’t want to talk to you.’”
Political science professor Seth Masket says Daly’s openness is risky because “he exposes himself to possibly losing some long-standing supporters… On the other hand, he might gain some new people who appreciate that he’s willing to have an open mind and approach some common ground in debate.”
Sources: christianpost.com, gazette.com
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Discussion Questions To Use With Students
What’s your opinion of meeting with “enemies,” or people who have completely different beliefs from you? In what ways might Daly’s approach be risky? In what ways might it benefit everyone involved?
What does a willingness to meet with all types of people say about you or your faith? Should this be an intentional strategy? Why or why not? How can you make this welcoming attitude part of your normal, everyday Christian life?
When you think of your enemies or opposites, who comes to mind, and why? What would it mean for you to truly engage these people? What would be most uncomfortable about it for you? What good might result—either in the short term or the long term? Explain.
Is it possible for Christians to have too much of an open mind toward non-believers? Does meeting with these people bring a risk of succumbing to their worldly ways? Why or why not?
Why was Jesus always associating with unsavory characters? What does that tell you about him and his mission? If Jesus had only hung out with the social elite, how might Christianity be different?
Who are some “unlikely” Christians you know? What changed their hearts, and what impact have they had on other people?
In what ways are you an unlikely Christian? How has Jesus transformed your life, and what’s your response been to that?
What motivates you to spread the good news about Jesus with other people? Do you have a particular “strategy” or just try to set an example by how you live? Explain.
Scripture links: Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 2:13-17; Acts 9:11-22; Romans 10:11-15; Ephesians 5:6-17; and 2 Timothy 2:22-26.