Summary: God prefers that we woo people rather than whop them.
Title: The Power of Woo
Text: Colossians 4:5-6
The Big Idea: God prefers we woo people rather than whop them.
I’m reading a new book titled, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons based on research from the Barna Group.
The first chapter begins with this line, “Christians have an image problem!”
The author defines those who are looking at the Christian faith from the outside as outsiders. It is a broad and inclusive term that includes any and all who are not Christians, without using terms that are offensive, like pagans or infidels or may not necessarily fit everyone outside of the faith, like seeker or pre-Christian.
The book is the result of unpacking research regarding the ways outsiders are reacting to the Christian faith. These outsiders, “think Christians no longer represent what Jesus had in mind… that Christianity in our society is not what it was meant to be.” (p.15)
The researchers discovered that outsiders expressed most opposition toward evangelicals. “There are twenty-four million outsiders in America who are ages sixteen to twenty-nine. Of these, nearly seven million have a negative impression of evangelicals; another seven million say they nave no opinion; and ten million have never heard the term evangelical… that leaves half a million young outsiders of the twenty-four million, who see us in a positive light.” (David Kinnaman, unChristian, Baker Books, p.25)
On June 25, 2008, the LA Times, Times Bloomberg Poll reported President Bush had a 23% approval rating among registered voters. If we think that is bad… if only five-hundred thousand of twenty-four million approve of us, that means evangelical Christians have a 2% approval rating.
Christians have an image problem.
We are baffled by the violence espoused by radical and extremist Islamists who are determined to destroy the “infidels” of the world. So we are really confused that we are not necessarily viewed as being all that gracious in eyes of the world either. So how does God want us to represent him in the world? What kind of ambassadors are we to be?
Jesus told us that when the Holy Spirit came we would have power nd we have come to understand that to include not only the ability to communicate the Good News of Christ but to live lives under the power or influence of God’s Spirit. “When the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere… in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
The Spirit of God gives us the power to woo people… to influence them and make a difference in their lives. The Spirit of God gives us the power to gently convince them of the life-changing difference Christ can make in a person’s life… not by threats and browbeating, but by woo.
Here’s an amusing look at the opposite of woo.
Project Video Clip: Classic Dick Van Dyke
If we wish to become people who have the power to woo people to Christ, where do we begin? It begins with the inner life.
1. The Power of the Inner Life
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about God’s plan that Christ is also for the Gentiles.” Colossians 4:2-4
When someone speaks of nurturing the inner life, we generally think of taking time to read, reflect on God’s Word, and to pray. Unfortunately, busyness is the primary culprit in hindering us from nurturing the inner life. This week I ran across a piece from Marriage Partnership.
The Ten Reasons You are too Busy to Pray Today.
1. You wake up feeling rested, then realize your alarm should have gone off an hour ago.
2. Your spouse is away on a two-day business trip that has lasted a week.
3. None of the clean clothes you were able to find match.
4. Your teenager shaved… the left side of his head.
5. You can’t find your check book.
6. A strange fluid is dripping from your car.
7. You accidentally delete your quarterly report ten minutes before a meeting with your boss.
8. You are in charge of games for the church youth group tonight.
9. You dog just got really sick… yuk!
10. Your toilet is overflowing, but at least you found your checkbook.
THOSE ARE IN FACT, TEN REASONS YOU REALLY SHOULD PRAY TODAY!
While some wisely pray before they act, most of us skip the praying and plunge into action. Busyness that does not grow out of prayer is just that… busyness. That kind of busyness is the human effort apart from the guiding and empowering of God’s Spirit.