Pastor's Corner

Are you an ‘issue’ Christian?

by Daniel Ausbun

Do know someone who seems like they’re stuck on one topic? You see him walking your way, and you know he’s going repeat commentary from Fox News and air his opinions on Barack Obama. Every conversation leads to Obama. Obama this. Obama that. You’re listening, waiting for a break to leave the conversation politely. You leave the conversation thinking, “I know he’s a good guy and interesting person, if only he wasn’t a broken record about our president.” It’s possible some Christians live their lives “hung up” on one issue or topic.
I first heard the phrase “issue Christian” used about a year ago. An “issue Christian” is one who overemphasizes one issue to the point of annoyance, argumentativeness or arrogance. Scripture tells us to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). For example, there’s a pastor who loves missions to Honduras. He supports and speaks so much about Honduras; the children’s ministry in his church suffers due to the large amount of funding being directed to Honduras. If you talk with him for five minutes, he’ll invite you to go on the church’s next mission trip to Honduras. You get the feeling when talking with this pastor that he’d rather invite you to Honduras than the church he serves. His “issue” is supporting and going on missions to Honduras. As he goes “on-and-on” you think, “I know the Gospel needs to be preached in Honduras, but there’s 194 other countries out there.” I believe at one time I was an issue Christian. In 2007 our church began Upward Flag Football and Cheerleading. Upward is a children’s sports outreach. For the next year, all I talked about was Upward, Upward, Upward. I talked about it so frequently; I should’ve joined a cheerleading squad and learned the Upward chants. It was a new program and children and parents were responding favorably towards it, so I kept promoting it. Finally, a wise woman told me, “Daniel, enough about Upward.” I had unconsciously become an “issue Christian.” There’s a fine line between passionate and annoyance. I know a pastor in Tennessee who was standing at the door shaking hands as church attenders exited. A first-time visitor was leaving and asked to speak with him after the line ended. The visitor began asking the pastor concerning his views on the end-of-the-world. The visitor continued talking 30 minutes about the importance of interpreting Bible prophecy for today’s current events — thus trying to predict when Jesus will return. After 30 minutes of end times, Bible prophesy doom-and-gloom, my pastor friend interrupted him saying, “Sir, I don’t think this church is for you.” He described the visitor as an “issue Christian” who would connect best at an end-of-the-world prophecy church — wherever that is. Over the years I’ve met many “issue Christians.” Prophesy, Calvinism, abortion, homosexuality, church music, King James Version, missions to a particular country, Founding Fathers of the United States, adoption, tithing and appropriate attire at church are all “issues” I’ve seen overemphasized. I want to be a “generalist Christian.” Acts 20:27 reminds us we should declare the “whole counsel of God.” If you’re always focused on the return of Christ and watch the news to look for clues — you’ll miss God’s plan for loving your neighbors. How would someone determine if they’re an “issue Christian?” Is there’s a topic or issue you feel others must “pass” in order to establish a friendship/fellowship with? Do you find yourself arguing with others in order for them to “see your point of view?” We’re to simply share God’s Word — not argue or debate people into belief. Don’t bog your spiritual life down with certain issues. Ephesians 3:19 reminds us there’s a “fullness of God” that’s given to believers who follow Christ.

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