This headline caught my eye: “Drag queens deliver home-cooked dinners as part of San Francisco club’s ‘Meals on Heels’ service.” The Washington Post reports that every Friday, “about four or five performers have made upward of a dozen stops at homes throughout the city to deliver meals and give three- or four-minute performances.”
Here’s what especially interested me: The newspaper distributed the article as part of a section titled “The Optimist: Stories that Inspire.”
On one hand, we can see why: delivering meals to those in need in these difficult days is a good thing. On the other hand, God’s word is clear: “A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak” (Deuteronomy 22:5).
Here’s my question: Do you think the Washington Post article is likely to cause most readers to view drag queens in a more or less favorable light? I think there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here about the relationship between truth and compassion.
52 percent of American adults deny Jesus’ divinity
My question is motivated by another story in the news: a new survey reveals that 52 percent of American adults believe Jesus was a great teacher but not God. This is despite Jesus’ clear claims to divinity (cf. Matthew 26:63–64, John 8:58, John 14:6; for more, see my article “Why Jesus?”). Tragically, 30 percent of evangelical Christians agree that Jesus was merely a great teacher.
Of course, a person who claims to be God but is not cannot be a great teacher. As C. S. Lewis noted in his classic work Mere Christianity:
“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
I have quoted Lewis’s famous paragraph often in apologetics contexts over the years. His reasoning is so sound as to be powerfully persuasive. But in a day when an article about drag queens is included in “stories that inspire” and truth is whatever you believe it to be, logical reasoning is less effective.
As a result, Lewis’s truth is just “his truth” and morality is whatever works for you. In such a culture, how do we persuade people that biblical truth is what works for them? Here’s where our compassion serves our convictions.
“Be part of the solution, not part of the problem”
Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning of a surge in coronavirus cases over the Labor Day weekend: “We have seen after Fourth of July, we saw after Memorial Day, a surge in cases.” As a result, he cautions us, “Wear a mask. Keep social distancing. Avoid crowds. You can avoid those kind of surges.”
Why should we? He adds: “You don’t want to be someone who’s propagating the outbreak. You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
This is a binary choice: If we are not “part of the solution,” we are “part of the problem.” If we are not taking precautions against the virus, we are in danger not only of contracting it but of spreading it to others.
In other words, our compassion should frame and then express our convictions.
A question I ask myself every day
This principle works both ways: we should beware of unbiblical teaching in the guise of kindness, but we should practice kindness to promote biblical truth.
The Bible warns that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is happy to offer us “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” so long as they cause us to disobey our Lord and forfeit his best (Matthew 4:9). We need to look past what people do to ask why they are doing it, to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
At the same time, we should seek every opportunity to express biblical convictions through biblical compassion. A culture that measures truth by relevance needs to see the difference Jesus makes in our lives and actions.
God’s word urges us, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Commenting on this statement, theologian Wayne Grudem notes: “Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offenses, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound—to Satan’s perverse delight.”
I became a Christian because I witnessed the difference Christ made in my Christian friends. Now I ask myself regularly: Who will become a follower of Jesus because I follow Jesus?
Would you ask the same question of yourself today?
NOTE: Pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie is hosting A Rush of Hope, a “cinematic crusade” that is “bringing the gospel in an artistic way.” This digital event begins tonight and runs through Labor Day; it “will answer life’s biggest questions and keep you on the edge of your seat.” Janet and I look forward to watching and encourage you to join us.