JOHN PEARRELL: Positive change in the world requires a change in the human heart

John Pearrell

John Pearrell

Let me begin by saying I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas and will enjoy a blessed New Year.

Hard to believe that another year has come and gone. Years ago Alvin Toffler wrote in his book, "Future Shock," "The years skip by at an ever accelerating pace." When I read those words, I was a young man just beginning pre-medical studies at the University of Pittsburgh. I did not understand those words back then; I do today. My goodness where have the years gone?

I do not know what 2012 holds, being that I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I can speculate however, that it is going to be a very cantankerous political year. I fear that we are about to face one of the ugliest political campaigning years, at least in my lifetime.

At stake is more than just politics as usual -- it is a real battle for contrasting worldviews.

You may relax, it is not my purpose to get political in this column. Rather, with the potentially explosive stage being set, I want to write specifically to you who are believers in this column.

No matter what our views may be, it is incumbent upon those of us who are truly Christian to show kindness to all and at all times. One of the great concerns of my heart is that we in America seem to have lost the ability of civil discourse; we've lost the ability to disagree agreeably.

Christians are constantly accused of judgmental, prejudiced and frankly, anti-almost everything. How do we respond to such things? More importantly how do we stand for what we believe without becoming caustic?

To the charge of being overly judgmental, I think we have to begin by acknowledging that pretty much like everyone else, we have made some mistakes in this area. I think that is important. Often Christians are accused of being judgmental (and I know we can be) by people who are just as judgmental and vitriolic as they claim Christian's are.

That being said, however, it really is incumbent that we who claim to know Christ hold ourselves to a higher standard.

"This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. He never did one thing wrong, Not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right." (1 Peter 2:21-23 MSG).

Dr. Andy Bannister, lead apologist for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Canada, reminds us in the RZIM winter 2011 newsletter, "We've been so loud and strident on some issues that many people think all we're about is abortion and homosexuality. Too many people know what Christianity is against but not what it is for. We need to be careful not to put the moral cart before the gospel horse."

The problem as I see it is that we as Christians often get sidetracked from our main mission by current issues. Yes, there are things that need to be addressed, but let's not forget that the issues which need addressing are first and foremost issues of the heart and cannot be fully or permanently addressed until there is a change of heart.

During the last presidential elections, our sitting president based his campaign on the theme of "hope and change." He has worked hard to bring that about, yet we find ourselves in a deeper crisis then the recession of 1974. That is not a political commentary; it is a mere fact.

The problem is not with our president; the problem is with the human heart. Until there is change in the human heart there is little hope of positive change in the world. That is the Christian message and we need to stick with it.

Bannister is right: as long as we keep getting the moral cart before the wonderful news of the gospel horse, we will continue to exhibit a vitriolic attitude that will drive people from the Savior rather than drawing them to our Savior.

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org