From self-absorbed to self-sacrificing

What does it take to save a galaxy? You might think of mighty heroes with outrageous powers, or genius warriors with superior weapons. But chances are you wouldn’t think about a group of selfish miscreants made up of an orphan, a murderer, a raccoon, and a talking tree. Yet that’s exactly what Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy gives us. A ragtag group filled with flaws responsible for stopping a wickedly powerful enemy.

Now, like every movie in our At the Movies series, Guardians has a message that echoes the Bible. We see in the New Testament another group of ragtag misfits brought together by Jesus. We call them the Disciples, and they were very much like the Guardians. A mix of people from different backgrounds, brought together for a purpose greater than themselves. And like the Guardians, we see the disciples take a very specific journey.

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How Should Christians Build Relationships With Non-Believers?

Being in the world, but not of it, does not mean that we as Christ followers should isolate ourselves from people who don’t share our beliefs. Jesus spent an enormous amount of time relating to non-Jews, much to the consternation of the religious leaders of his time.

Engaging with non-believers can give us opportunities to demonstrate with our actions and our lifestyles how following Christ can make a difference in how one does life. This does not mean, however, that we engage in activities that are not Christ-honoring in order to reach out to the lost, rather, we invite them into our world and into our lives and into our church and make them a part of who we are.

The church should be a place of insulation and refuge for the lost, not a place of isolation and refuge from the lost.

How Should We Share Our Faith Without Being Preachy?

The desire to share Christ with unchurched friends can be outweighed by a fear of coming across as being too pushy or preachy. It is said that actions speak louder than words, so the life we live and the love we share can be the most effective means of opening the door to conversation.

When our relationship with Christ is evident in how we relate to others, how we date, how we handle money and disappointment, and how we do our work, others will want to know what makes us different. As we answer their questions and share the difference Christ has made in our lives, the next natural step is to invite them into a relationship with Christ as well.

Why Is There a Generational Shift in Authority and Opinion?

Young people have constant access to their friends and acquaintances through smart phones and social media. This leads to less interaction with adults.

Then, when it’s time to make a decision, there are multiple voices competing for attention, and each begins to have equal weight – regardless of whether the advice is helpful and wise.

Embrace the positive aspects of constant communication with friends, but take time to learn from generations who’ve gone before you. They have a wealth of wisdom and experience to share.

(Bonus) How Can I Encourage My Older Parents to Get Into Church Community?

Parent/child relationships can be difficult to navigate when one is trying to convince the other to change a course of action, especially when the tables turn and an adult child is doing the persuading.

If your relationship with your parent is a good one, pray for an open door in which to share your concerns. The thing you can best help others with is what they can best hear from you. Pointing out how their faithful commitment to community when you were young was one of the kindest things they taught you, and that you’re still practicing that, might well be the key that reminds them of the importance of continued community. If not, however, pray that God will put someone in your parents’ path that they will listen to.

In the end, though, you have to let go of the things you can’t fix and trust that God will provide the results. God loves and cares for your parents more than you ever could.

How Do You Live Free From the Guilt of Sin?

There is a difference between felt guilt and guilt for before our Holy God.

We are guilty before God for our sin, and that’s the guilt that Jesus covers on the cross.

There is also a guilt that we feel for hurting someone we love, and when we sin against God, we hurt Him. He forgives us through Jesus and asks us to release that, but remorse does matter.

Remorse demonstrates the authenticity of our love for God that we have to release. If we didn’t have it, there’s something very wrong in the relationship.

The freedom that God provides is the freedom of the consequences of sin eternally. We never before God and through Jesus will carry the consequence of our sins. But on Earth, there are very real consequences in society. We aren’t free of consequences on Earth. This is the reason God says “Don’t sin.” We’re going to be free in Heaven, but the destruction will be felt on Earth. That often destroys marriages, families, finances, careers, futures, and emotional souls.

Discussing Your Faith With Non Christians

Whether you’re a new follower of Jesus or someone with a deep relationship with God, talking about your faith with someone who doesn’t share it can be challenging. And when the person to whom you’re talking straight up says they don’t believe in God, it can be downright difficult.

That’s because many times Christians approach talking to an atheist like a soldier approaches war: victory against the enemy at any cost.

But, as PK shared during the Q&A, talking with an atheist isn’t about winning an argument—it’s about sharing how your faith makes a difference for you. The Apostle Peter suggested that approach as well; in 1 Peter 3:15-16, he writes:

“Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick.”

Did you catch that? The foundation of effective witnessing isn’t clever arguments or well-reasoned explanations. It’s not rhetoric or presentation or persuasion.

The foundation of talking about your faith is living it out daily.

Why is that?

PK mentioned in his answer that most people who come to Christ do so not because of theology or philosophy, or even the compelling evidence for Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection. They aren’t convinced by the evidence for the Bible’s reliability, or even by well-crafted sermons and excellent music.

Most people begin their journey of faith by what they experience—the interactions they have with people who say they follow Christ. When men and women of the Kingdom live with grace, love, and conviction, it makes an impression on those who don’t know Jesus.

When our actions are spurred by something greater than self-interest or the desire to prove ourselves right, something stirs in the souls of people who don’t yet believe in Jesus.

Peter said, “Be ready to speak when someone asks you about your faith.”

Why would they ask?

Because they see how you live. They see your kindness, your generosity, your commitment, and your respectfulness. They see you handle stresses and disappointments with the same grace that you handle success.

They are looking at you as the first evidence of God. And when they see it in your life (when you bear spiritual fruit), the Spirit of God can prompt their curiosity.

When it comes to talking to your atheist neighbor, co-worker, or friend, always remember that the most impacting thing about Jesus wasn’t what he said, it was who he was. When we draw near to God in our own lives, we live and love like Jesus and our witness becomes more compelling.

It’s not about our being smarter, it’s about our being more like Jesus. As PK said, “Arguments never brought anyone into the Kingdom.”

But love on display?

It’s been changing the world for over 2,000 years.