Here is David's thoughtful response to Amy, emphasis mine:
The masses didn't follow Him [Jesus] around because He lived without a house like a radical or because was telling Him the truth about what was screwed up with their way of thinking. That's what happened while they listened to Him, but He had to engage them first. He had to love them. He ate with them. He talked with them.
The Pharisees didn't like that.
Secular America doesn't see enough of this. Especially here in the south, where everyone grew up in church but left it when they got out on their own. They know what it's like.
Why are our lights so dim? Because we don't love God like we should. We don't see a God-saturated everything. But why doesn't the culture want to engage us?
They can't tell the difference between our worldview and theirs. They just see our gossiping and backbiting and hypocritical rules. They just see our "intolerance" and our "ignorance" because they've never had anyone kind enough to sit down and explain to them WHY we think it's wrong to be a homosexual, WHY we think it's wrong to have an abortion, WHY we think it's wrong to leave God out of the picture. We'd rather lobby Congress (a secular institution) harder and harder for a stricter moral code, and nobody even understands why morality matters anymore.
They just see us producing record after uninspired record, movie after cheesy inoffensive movie, Christian coffeehouse after wretched Christian coffeehouse. What's wrong with their music, they wonder? It sounds just the same--better, even, usually. What's wrong with their cofeehouses[sic]? They certainly make better coffee.
We're so afraid of eating unclean meat that we've left the whores and moneylenders to feed themselves.
And rubbing our set-apartness in even harder isn't going to draw anyone to the Lord.
David makes some wonderful points here; I just wanted to respond to a few things.
1. I agree wholeheartedly that in most cases, evangelism and discipleship are best nurtured into existence through a loving relationship--if I know you love me, I am much better able to understand and accept a difficult message than if I think you automatically disapprove of me! But that doesn't mean that is the only context in which truth can be communicated and received (not that David was saying that--just making the point).
I've been convicted, sharpened and edified by strangers communicating hard truth to me at times. It all depends on how God wants to speak to someone's heart; HE knows what they need in that moment. No matter what we do, if we are communicating the true gospel to someone, it is a difficult message, and many will simply not accept it no matter how you package it.
However, David's point here, I think, is that we shouldn't hold ourselves back from engaging with non-Christians over meals, etc., where we might be able to talk to them. I heartily agree with doing this as the Lord leads (I got in many scrapes as a new believer by continuing to spend time in relationships that God was not leading me to be in. The people I was with were not saved, and I was dragged down--and I've seen that happen to others).
2. 'Why doesn't the culture want to engage us?' There are at least two answers to that question, and David does a great job with the first: the "pop Christianity" culture doesn't engage unbelievers because it's overwhelmingly lame. I don't say "our" culture, because, frankly, I don't claim it. When I became a Christian, there are many ways I separated myself from the world--but it doesn't mean I became part of the pop Christianity culture by default. To be honest with you, I view it with as much caution, and approach it with as many prayers for discernment, as I do anything in the world.
Another answer to the question above is, 'Because the world is NEVER going to engage us.' Not by and large. There will be individuals who respond to the Good News, and their lives will be changed. But Jesus said in John 15 that the world would hate us:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
We don't need to run around trying to get their approval...it's not coming. Many things that are done in the name of reaching out to seekers is really just ear-tickling. We need to seek the Lord and communicate the Gospel in the same pure way that has opened and melted hearts since Jesus' resurrection. Sure, now that we have various technologies, the Lord may use those to communicate to people. But the message and discipleship will not change.
3. My favorite thing David wrote: "they've never had anyone kind enough to sit down and explain to them WHY we think it's wrong to be a homosexual, WHY we think it's wrong to have an abortion, WHY we think it's wrong to leave God out of the picture." HOW TRUE! That's my heart, in a nutshell, in reaching out to those who don't know Jesus. Many people simply haven't heard the truth, spoken lovingly and rationally. They're on one 'side of the fence' and may not have thought about why. They may not even realize that Christians are not mean people who say "NO!" to everything!
4. Lastly, regarding "rubbing in" the "set-apartness"--agreed. But a follower of Jesus still must separate from the world, to a Biblical degree (I know there is a lot of debate there). A prideful separation that looks down on others is obviously not godly and, I believe, angers the Lord (Ps 138:6, Prov 6:17).
I know this is turning into a novel, so I'll shut it down. Thanks, David, for all of your incredibly gracious and thought-provoking comments yesterday. I appreciate the way that you lovingly disagree with others.
Also, give Molly's wonderful comments a look.