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Demonstrating Christ's Love in an Angry World

Air Date 10/17/2018

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In a discussion based on his book Christians in the Age of Outrage, Ed Stetzer discusses the importance of Christ-followers engaging others in a loving, kind and respectful manner, especially when there's sharp disagreement on divisive cultural issues.

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Episode Transcript



Ed Stetzer: I have people in my life who will say to me, “Ed, that wasn’t the best thing for you to say on social media.” But they’re people I’m praying with. I - I have - I meet with people on a regular basis to pray and hold one another accountable. So I think we need that.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: One post, one comment, one video - it’s all it takes to set off a firestorm on social media, because we live in an age of outrage. And unfortunately, Christians can end up fueling that fire, if we’re not careful. On this Focus on the Family broadcast, Dr. Ed Stetzer will offer a better way - a constructive path forward for those who want to be part of the solution to all the divisive shouting back and forth that goes on every day in our world. Thanks for joining us today. I’m John Fuller, and your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly.

Jim Daly: John, we see so much outrage around us at every turn. And so much of it is just plain irrational. I think we’re outraged at the outrage. But as Christians, we need to be able to take an honest look at ourselves and be willing to make some changes if necessary before we can really address the problem of outrage. You know, it’s kind of right there in that scripture that talks about taking the plank out of your eye, before you look at the speck in your brother’s eye. I also like this scripture, which is in 2 Timothy 2:22 right through the end there, to 26. But, let me read it for us all quickly: “So, flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Now, here we go. “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies. You know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone.” I so wish it said “most people”.


John: Everyone - everyone.

Jim: It says “everyone” - “Able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. And they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil after being captured by him to do his will.” Wow. I mean, that really sets the tone for what we’re talking about. And we don’t always adhere to that wonderful admonition that Paul gave to his student Timothy. And we’re gonna talk to Ed Stetzer. As John described, he’s written this wonderful new book, Christians in the Age of Outrage. And he has some fascinating insights. It’s going to stir you up. And we want to hear from you. I would like to know. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat, Republican. That’s not really the issue. But on the topics we talk about today, let me know what you’re thinking. Like Dr. Stetzer, I am passionate about us as Christians engaging the world in a way that shows Christ’s love and grace. So I hope you will stick with us and have an open heart about where we’re at. It’s hard to do in this time.

John: And Ed is the executive director at the Billy Graham Center and is also the dean of the School of Mission, Ministry and Leadership at Wheaton College. He’s interim pastor of Moody Bible Church and is the co-host of the radio show, Break Point This Week.


Jim: Man, how do you do all that?

Ed: Well we have a great team.


And they do a lot of great stuff together.

Jim: Do you have children in the home?

Ed: I do.


And they know I love them. And I spend lots of time with them - three daughters, by the way.

Jim: Yeah. What are their names?


Ed: Kristen, Jacquelyn and Kaitlyn - and they are amazing, the joy of my life, and Donna of course as well.

Jim: I’m not gonna ask you your anniversary date.

Ed: Oh, I know all these things...

Jim: Are you kidding me?

Ed: Is this like a quiz? How hard is it?

Jim: Well, you are a statistician. What - your background is research, isn’t it?

Ed: Well, it was. So I used to run LifeWay Research. We did - matter of fact, the last time we were on together, we were talking about LifeWay Research data. We did some in partnership with Focus on the Family. So about two years ago, I left LifeWay Research and went to the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College and live in Chicagoland now.

Jim: Well, your observation of the culture is so well-informed. And that’s one of the reasons I like having you on at Focus, is because you were a researcher. You’re still interested in that. I’m sure you’re still doing some of that. But it’s just an insightful perspective on where the culture’s at. So let’s get to it.

Ed: Let’s do it.

Jim: I want to start with a story that you tell in your book about a political controversy that was raging in the news at that time, where you tried to be a voice of reason. I can relate to this. And you published an article, tried to pull the right, salient points together. And it kind of backfired on you. What happened?

Ed: Yeah. Of course, sometimes when we write in and about things that people - they aren’t sure how to respond. You know, they don’t know what the best course of action is. And so, a lot of times I’ll write something, I’ll put something together, put something out, and the end result is it’ll cause a whole new fresh run of outrage. And one example of that is actually - and of course there are a whole bunch of others I guess we could use as well - but one of them had to do when we were talking about Kaepernick. And in that conversation, I was concerned...

Jim: So this is the NFL kneeling issue?

Ed: Sorry, yes, the NFL kneeling and that has become now kind of a big national controversy and more. And my comment was - and I said, “You know, we should listen to the comments. We should listen to the concerns that Kaepernick raises. I think there are important things that are actually being discussed. We should listen to why people are responding this way.” One of the things that’s - I think is so important us to see - why are African-Americans and Anglos responding differently? Whenever you see a number differently - and that’s back to my polling thing, right? If you go to, you know, the polling summaries, you’ll find that it’s really about a 40 to 50 percent difference in perception between where African-Americans and Anglos are. But I did decide to write on the issue. I’m a cultural commentator. I write at Christianity Today. And in there, I said - I kind of quoted President Obama, who kind of expressed some of his concerns about how the protest was being perceived. My concern that the protest was being - was really not accomplishing what it wanted, didn’t think it was helpful, as I put it. This wasn’t the best way to do this.

Now, again, I’m really deeply concerned about racial reconciliation. And Moore did a series after Ferguson, invited African-American leaders to speak into this. Well, in this case, we started a conversation that sort of grew. And the division sort of grew to the place where I had people - like, Charlie Dates is a pastor from Chicagoland, African-American church. He said, “Can I write a response?” I loved it. It was a great response. John Richards, who works with me - he’s African-American, a graduate of Morehouse and Howard, historic African-American schools. He writes a piece. Michael Lee, who works with me - but of course we have a multicultural environment. So what happened is there was a lot of kind of outrage around us. But inside, we were having an important conversation and learning from one another. And I think what happens is you get a lot of these angry responses. And I’ve done it the past on other political issues where people have called me not a Christian. I’ve been called a heretic. I’ve been called a liar. What’s most interesting is - and it happened not that long ago - is that I’m not on the team. I’m not on the team because I’m not following the talking points.

Jim: Right.

Ed: And I’ve got to tell you, I don’t take the talking points from a city. I take the talking points from a city that has no end. So when I look to what the Bible says, I want to reflect on that in our culture. And it appears some people get mad when you actually do that.

Jim: Well, you know, the pushback on that - let me give you my perspective. When you look at the national anthem - that, for me, is a time of unity for all people.

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, we’re not perfect. We know that human beings aren’t perfect. Therefore, nations aren’t perfect. And although we aren’t a perfect nation, I think we do generally strive to move in that direction. And I think our over 200-year history would be evidence of that.

Ed: Yeah, and I agree.

Jim: And when we get to this point where we can - before a sporting event - pull together as a nation with all of our positives and with our downside, can we just unify around this concept that people have died for our freedoms? They have spent their blood to allow us to be who we are. And this is just a point of unity, like you originally said.

Ed: Oh, I’m with you - like I said there.

Jim: Yeah.

Ed: But what’s interesting is that when you talk - like John - John, who’s a smart guy, leads a - law school graduate, seminary graduate.

Jim: Yeah.

Ed: He said, you know, “There’s a history in sports of African-Americans. This is the time and the place when they can speak up because the only time and the place sometimes when people pay attention.” So I don’t know that I was persuaded. But I grew in my understanding.

Jim: Well, and that’s the thing. It’s perspective. And so you have a perspective like me, and I think that represents millions of people to say, “Wait a minute; let’s find a different venue for that description.”

Ed: And what happened with outrage is people would say then...

Jim: Yes.

Ed: ...”What you’re saying is you’re not - you don’t care about these issues.” And then you...

Jim: Correct.

Ed: Someone goes back to someone else - “Well, you don’t care about America. Or you don’t” - and I don’t think that’s the case. John cares deeply about our country...

Jim: Right.

Ed: ...And he also is concerned about some of the things that Kaepernick brought up. I’m concerned about some of the ways Kaepernick has brought some of those things up.

Jim: Correct.

Ed: The end result is we learned to listen to each - our whole team. We had a great conversation.

Jim: Well, let’s move to the bigger question.

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: And that is, how have we become so polarized in the culture and in the church...

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: ...particularly, kind of as an overflow of the culture, I think?

Ed: Yeah. It’s interesting because some of it comes from Christians. The outrage comes from Christians. And some of it’s fake outrage. Some of it comes to Christians. That’s silly, fake outrage, as well. And so, we see both of those sort of coming in different directions. But what’s happening in our society - you know, Pew Research has documented this - is that we’re just becoming more polarized, because people are conservative - and I’ll be on that side of things, generally - are becoming more conservative. People who are liberal, progressive, whatever term they use, are becoming more so on that side. So, there’s very little middle ground. You know, I was a pastor in Pennsylvania. We had a pro-life Democrat governor. You don’t find that, nowadays.

Jim: Right.

Ed: Matter of fact, one party leader recently said now they’re not welcome in the party. So as this has sort of separated us, what’s happened is - is that social media has then amplified the outrage. I mean, it’s crazy some things - Jim, I see on social media where people just - the vitriol. And I want to say to people, “Listen. Do not be discipled by your cable news channel. And do not be shaped by your social media feed.” And that’s it. We have a whole chapter in Christians in the Age of Outrage, just dealing with getting your social media under the lordship of Christ, because it’s a shark tank, and Christians are often the sharks.

Jim: Well, let me ask you to differentiate that, because I know what you’re saying, but I think some of us might need a little more instruction in that way. It’s informed. You can be informed in the culture from those media sources, but you’re saying don’t be discipled.

Ed: Yeah. Discipled, or formed - right.

Jim: That’s really specific. So dig into that.

Ed: I watch the news. I watch news channels. I look to social media. But I’m not seeking to be discipled. My views ought not to be completely aligned with any person, any politician, any political party, any - probably any news channel unless they’re submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ. And I think sometimes what people do is they sort of get, “Well, this is my group. I got to - they’re right, no matter what they say. They are right.” And I just don’t believe that. I don’t believe any politician or leader, you know - Jesus is not coming back on Air Force One. And He’s not gonna ride back on a donkey, or an elephant. And at the end of the day, we’ve got to acknowledge that we have one loyalty that we say, “That’s always right.” Everything else - we’ve got to be at a place we can critique, a place we can have a prophetic voice - those deeply matter.

Jim: Ed, one of the things I’m often concerned about is how we jump on social media against a company or against an individual, and we begin to verbally pummel that situation. The one that you cite in your book is Starbucks.

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: It’s interesting, because oftentimes, we don’t know what is true.

Ed: Yep.

Jim: And it’s important, because in this culture today people speak about, “Well, that’s your truth.” But there is only one truth.

Ed: That’s right.

Jim: And it deals with facts. Starbucks was a great example of that. What happened?

Ed: It was. So it’s - and it’s actually one that we - we probably all still remember. 2015 was the beginning of the Starbucks red cup controversy. And this kind of Internet pastor gets on, and he holds up a Starbucks red cup, and he says, “Look, they’ve taken Christmas off of here,” and posts this on social media. And, what he actually says is - I’m quoting here - “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups, because they hate Jesus,” unquote. Now, here’s the reality. Starbucks has never had Christmas on their cups. They’ve had, like, snowflakes...

Jim: Holidays.

Ed: ...Holiday, never any specific Christian theme. And, uh - and they’ve never had Merry Christmas, and their employees are allowed to say, “Merry Christmas.” And - and all this goes on. And I don’t agree with everything that the leadership of Starbucks does or thinks, but I’ve got to tell you what - that led to a whole lot of people in the whole world to think - how many people? I mean, millions of people saw this, and what they came away with the conclusion is, “These Christians don’t care about the facts at all.” And Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life,” if there’s anybody who ought to be people of the truth. And the end result was - it was just outrage. It was misplaced outrage. There are real things to be outraged about, and - and we’ve talked about some of them here, talked about life and - or injustice and brokenness and war and famine and poverty. But to be upset - let’s take it a step further - not just that Starbucks - I mean, they actually - news magazines put out all the Starbucks cups over the year. None of them had Christmas on them.

Jim: Right.

Ed: But let’s - let’s put that aside for just a second. This idea that, uh, you know, well, there’s this war - we can’t say, “Merry Christmas,” anymore - I gotta tell you - everywhere I go at Christmastime, I get to say, “Merry Christmas.” And if I go to Walmart, and I walk out, and the clerk at Walmart doesn’t say, “Merry Christmas,” to me, I don’t turn around and snarl, “Jesus is the reason for the season,” ‘cause it’s not his or her job to tell everyone about Jesus. It’s my job to tell everybody about Jesus.

John: We’re talking to Ed Stetzer today on Focus on the Family. And a lot of this content is captured in his book, Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best when the World is at its Worst. We’ve got copies of that and a CD or free download of our conversation at

Jim: Let’s talk about the lies we believe, which you mention in the book, Christians that hurt the cause of Christ. One of the things I often hear from people who are not believers in Jesus, they’ll say, “Oh, I could never follow Christ, because I knew a guy who called himself a Christian, and he never paid me the 40 bucks he owed me.” Let me deconstruct this a little bit. One is the Scriptures tell us that we all fall short, that we’re sinners saved by grace. We all are - are fouled in some way. We don’t live life perfectly. And we’re gonna let people down. So to the non-believers who are listening, that’s life. It’s unfortunate. To some degree, we are hypocrites, because we can’t live perfectly. But I would rather have you understand that we’re fallen and we fall short, rather than you think we’re perfect and we try to project being perfect. The next part of this, though, when somebody says that - I sit there, I’ll laugh, and I’ll say, “Are you really gonna not accept eternal life through Jesus Christ, because a human being didn’t pay you 40 bucks back?” I mean, that to me is the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard. You’re gonna let 40 bucks from some guy in, you know, LA who didn’t pay you back? I mean, speak to that.

Ed: Yeah, I was actually on an airplane - I think I was flying into Chicago – a woman sitting next to me, you know, I tried to strike up a conversation. And she talked to me about how when she was a kid, she had this really bad cult-like experience, she called it, with - in Toronto - with this Christian group. She just named the denomination, which I won’t name. And so we talked. And she was talking about how she was reading the Vedas and all these other scriptures. It was a fascinating conversation. And then I said to her, “Well, let me ask you this. You’re on this spiritual search. What - tell me about this. Have you ever considered that maybe the two years with a bunch of high school kids that maybe didn’t understand the Gospel might have not been the best representation of Christianity? Could there be another way to consider this?” And she said, “Maybe there is.” I said, “Well, would you - would you consider it?” And we talked. It was a long flight. And then I navigated over - I was on Wi-Fi - and I said, “Look, I got a book here on Amazon - two of them, actually. They’re written by a friend of mine named Tim Keller about questions skeptics ask and the reason for God.” She lived right near Moody Church. So I said to her - it’d be weird if I asked for her phone number or her address - but, “If I order these books, would you just come maybe next Sunday, I’ll meet you after church and I’ll give you these books?” And she said, “You know what? I would. I’d like to reconsider that.” Now, I’ve had hundreds of people tell me they’re going to show up and they never do. She was there. So I wrote in the book. I signed Tim Keller’s book for him.


Jim: Tim won’t mind.

Ed: Exactly. Exactly. But here’s the deal. I mean, a lot of people are upset at the false version of Christianity. Let’s help them understand the truth. And I think that’s part of where - the problem for right now, though, is a lot of Christians are burning bridges rather than building bridges with people that disagree. I think that matters as well.

Jim: Well, and that’s what we need to be mindful about. Hit another of these lies, or maybe a couple.

Ed: Yeah, well, part of the lies that we just kind of went through in the book, we talked about it, is that there are certain things, like - like, for example, “My politics will save me.” I think, ultimately, we’re not going to find the political solution here. That’s not gonna work.

Jim: Let me comment on that.

Ed: Please.

Jim: Because Jesus, I mean, he could have settled it with Caesar, right? He could’ve said, “Listen: we’re gonna sort this all out. I’m gonna go meet with Caesar. By the way, I’m the Son of God.” “Prove it.” “Boom.” “Okay, prove it again.” “Boom.” “Okay, you’re the Son of God.” “Caesar, this is what I want from you.” He didn’t choose that path. He was more concerned about everybody’s heart.

Ed: That’s exactly it. And so you can win politically and lose the Gospel conversation. And what I would say - like, for example, I see some people on social media, and they’ll post. Now, your friends - your - excuse me - your neighbors probably follow you on Facebook, because you see each other at the pool, or whatever. And then - then they do, and they see you posting how stupid everyone is who disagree with you. “This person’s an idiot. This person’s an idiot.” So you’re pretty much saying to them - they see it, “Oh, they think I’m an idiot.” And then you get muted or maybe blocked, and then you see them at the neighborhood barbecue, and the relationship’s already broken. Doesn’t mean you can’t say things - it’s how you say things.

And what I would say is that if you’re not in community with some other Christians who can say - and look to you and say, “Maybe that’s not the best thing to say,” - I have people in my life who will say to me, “Ed, that wasn’t the best thing for you to say on social media.” But they’re people I’m praying with. I - I have - I meet with people on a regular basis to pray and hold one another accountable. So I think we need that. And I think we believe these lies. And perhaps, one of the - one of the most important ones is that mission is optional. You know, Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you.” We’re here to be on mission for Jesus. We’re here to respond like Isaiah did - “Here I am Lord. Send me.” And when you’re caught up in every other thing - I’ve seen Christians spread conspiracy theories, be fooled by Russian bots and trolls. I’ve seen Christians spread vitriol to their neighbors. And it’s sad, because I see the comment, I think, “Who would say such a thing?” And I click on it, the bio says, “I’m a Christian.” And there’s a better way, and that’s the way shaped by the Gospel, shaped by our worldview, shaped by the mission.

Jim: Ed, you’re talking to so many busy parents right now. They’re not, maybe, tied into the daily activities of politics in Washington, D.C., maybe not even cable news. What if they don’t feel like they’re part of the outrage, they’re on the peripheral? What do they need to know?

Ed: Well, praise God for that.


I think you don’t have to be there and a part of it, but I still think everybody feels some of it.

Jim: What should their mission be?

Ed: Yeah, I think, ultimately, to - to speak into that grace and love and truth. Maybe they have a friend who’s kind of - keeps going off in ways that aren’t helpful and honoring to God. But I think for all of us - you know, I lived in a neighborhood with - you know, I had houses next to me. And Donna and I and our family, we wanted to be on mission in our neighborhood. We talk about this in one of the chapters called, “Neighborly Engagement.” And what we did is we made a plan. We built a little playground in our backyard, and all the neighborhood kids would come to our house. And for over four years, we sought to share the Gospel with eight of our neighbors - closest neighbors who we knew didn’t know the Lord. We had the privilege of sharing with seven of them - not inviting them to church, but sitting down, knowing them, sharing the Gospel, had the privilege of leading a couple to Christ, baptizing them, involved in the church, baptizing another couple off to - across the street. So we as a family - so the busy mom, the - the, you know, the mom or dad who are in the workplace, or wherever they may be, all of us have to remember, you know, I can’t decide - you know, people are debating votes and midterms and who’s gonna be a senator, or gonna be a representative voting on this or that. I’m not a senator. I’m not a representative. But I am a neighbor. And I can neighbor - make “neighbor” into a verb, right? I can neighbor well and show and share the love of Jesus. So one of the things we have in Christians in the Age of Outrage is a little chart, actually, for you to write your neighbor’s name down and how you can get to know them and how you can serve them.

Jim: Yeah, that’s good.

Ed: So it’s not just - I don’t just want to say, “Here’s the problem.” I want to say, “Let’s talk about the solution.” And that faithful presence is so key.

Jim: I think one of the byproducts of all of this is we entrench. We pull back. And I think what I’ve experienced - engaging people in the same-sex community, the abortion community, as I’ve gone and met with people - one, it knocks down the caricature. They have a far more extreme caricature of who we are as Christians than who we are.

Ed: That’s right.

Jim: And so it begins to deconstruct that for them. Secondly - in a healthy way - and then secondly, it’s amazing how the Holy Spirit moves in that environment. And I think, it’s wrong of us to pull back, because God has to move...

Ed: Yeah. I think so, too.

Jim: ...and He needs us moving...

Ed: That’s right.

Jim: those environments to exemplify who He is.

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s how He begins to initiate work in the heart of the person who’s a nonbeliever.

Ed: Yeah, and there are important issues that still need to be addressed in the public square. And sometimes those things happen at the same time. We give a lot of example - the book has a lot of examples, a lot of great stories. One of them is our mutual friend, who’s the president of Biola University, Barry Corey, where he gets to know a representative who serves in the California Legislature, and - Evan Low. And they actually begin this relationship. He’s kind of pushing forward a bill that would have serious implications on the religious liberty for Biola University. He’s doing that, because he’s concerned about LGBT students and how they’d be treated. And so what they do is this crazy thing. They actually get to become friends, and in becoming friends, Evan Low realizes, “Were - they’re not the people I thought they were at this Biola University.”

Jim: Right, Barry invites him to the campus.

Ed: Right, Barry invites him to the campus.

Jim: He’s never been.

Ed: Exactly, and sees all these students, this multicultural milieu and - and talks to people. And the end result - they actually write an article in The Washington Post. I cite it here in Christians in the Age of Outrage. And ultimately, the bill - you know, who knows what the future holds on these things, but the bill kind of eventually goes away. It effected real change on a political level, but also on a relational level. They got to know one another.

Jim: You know, your church in Nashville, you had a situation where you came into a church that was folding, basically...

Ed: Yup, yup.

Jim: ...And what they learned doing it wrong and then doing it right. Describe that because that’s a real takeaway for pastors that are listening as well as all of us as Christians.

Ed: Well, it was a unique situation where there was a conflict within the church. Actually, a - members of the church filed a lawsuit against the pastor. The whole thing blew up. Wasn’t a small church - 3,000-seat auditorium in the heart of the entertainment district of Nashville. And so, it was - it was on the front page of the paper - I think - five times, made the Associated Press on the TV news night after night until Mother’s Day, when the video - it all came down - I watched the video, and it all came down. Shouts, people were voted out of the church, and the pastor just said, “Happy Mother’s Day,” and walked off the stage. Well, you know, without taking sides in the conflict, he left soon thereafter. How do you survive after a conflict? So they called me to be their interim. And I gotta tell you, it was a mess. The whole thing was a mess. And so I started serving. First, I said, “Listen, I’m not taking a salary. You’ve got no money. You’re near bankruptcy. And furthermore, there were accusations about finances. And I’m not gonna do that. But here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna build a new reputation for showing and sharing the love of Jesus.” So we started to. We started serving others. The local newspaper ran a story - we tell the story in Christians in the Age of Outrage - local paper ran a story saying that this church is trying to make a new reputation for showing and sharing the love of Jesus, talked about some of the challenges. But then came the Nashville flood, which you probably...

Jim: I remember that.

John: Oh, yeah.

Ed: ...Didn’t hear a lot about. Well, good. But a lot of people didn’t because there was this balloon boy, that sort of the same time, this kid was in this helium balloon. There were helicopters chasing him. That made the big news, managed to do...

Jim: But it was like, 8 foot of water at the Opryland Hotel.

Ed: Oh, it was - and it was not - it was incredible. And our - and the church is actually right across the street from there. As a matter of fact, when they evacuated the employees and everything else that came to the church, turns out we were on high ground. We didn’t know it until everything else was flooded. $200 million in damage over at Opryland. So the church, well, we were out - we were actually doing a day of service the day the rains were coming. And so we were out cleaning. I was cleaning - uh, my - my daughters and I went to one high school. My wife was at an - I think - a nursing home. We’re just scrubbing the floorboards of high schools - or middle school - we were at a middle school. Kept raining, keeps raining, so we go home - keeps raining, keeps raining. It wasn’t like a tropical storm. It’s just random. I think it’s almost 20 inches of rain. I mean, people died. Dozens of people died.

Um, so - so then I go to church the next day. The power goes out in the middle of the service. Anyway, all of a sudden the message that we have been saying, that we’re gonna build a new reputation, was laid before us. And we made - turned our church into a headquarters. Samaritan’s Purse put a headquarters. The city put a headquarters. Our people wore T-shirts and more. And we began serving. We began mudding out houses. We started - gave backpacks to the kids who lost them all. We served and served and served. And what was fascinating was it was actually the Sunday we came up. And I - you know, I was there that Sunday morning. I took off some time at work. I’m wearing dirty clothes for Sunday services. And I said, “Hey, listen. It’s Mother’s Day. See, but this is the Mother’s Day that’s gonna mark and be remembered at our church. Not that conflict one, but this is the Mother’s Day that’s gonna be marked.” And we built a new reputation for showing and sharing the love of Jesus, and that’s something Christians have been doing for 2,000 years. And it makes a difference.

Jim: Ed, it’s so good. And I think you’re right. It says in the scripture, “Do these good deeds so they’ll honor your Father in Heaven.” It doesn’t say, “Say these good words.”

Ed: Yeah. That’s good.

Jim: “Do these good deeds.” And that’s what you’re saying. And we’ve noticed that here at Focus, too, when we got into the foster-adoption space and other good deeds. People that traditionally have been very critical of us started to soften their tone against us.

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: And I think that’s good. We’re grateful for that because we’re so much more than what we do in the political arena. It’s a small part of our budget. Ninety-five percent of our budget is taking care of marriages and helping families.

Ed: Yup.

Jim: And it’s good to see people get a different picture of who we are, people that before were more or less our enemies in the public square.

Ed: Yeah.

Jim: So that’s a start.

Ed: It is.

Jim: Ed, this has been so good. Your book, Christians in the Age of Outrage, it’s that resource that people need. Man, I’m telling you.

Ed: Thank you, brother.

Jim: Because when we are there watching the cable news, engaged with things, it can flip a switch in us.

Ed: Yup.

Jim: And we’ve gotta remember the fruit of the spirit. And I wanna ask you a question in a minute about the love of God...

Ed: Yeah.


Jim: ...And how little we often use that tool that the enemy of our soul cannot compete with. So be thinking about that. But folks, we are grateful for this message. I believe in it. And I want to get this into your hands. Send a gift of any amount. And if you can’t afford it, we’ll get it to you somehow. Somebody will give enough to where we can cover that cost. But send a gift, and we will say thank you by sending a copy of Ed Stetzer’s book, Christians in the Age of Outrage, as our way of saying thank you.

John: And that book is gonna help change your thinking about engaging others in social media and in public and in person. So contact us today. Donate when you call 800-232-6459 - 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or donate and get a copy of the book at

Jim: Ed, let me give you a scripture before we jump on that idea of the love of God. There in 2 Corinthians, “Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” Describe that tool of love and reconciliation and how we need to use it, because it’s unique to God’s heart.

Ed: It really is. And even that verse goes on to say, “We are ambassadors for Christ.” Paul’s talking about himself and those missionaries with him, but it’s so applicable to all of us. We are agents of reconciliation, showing and sharing the love of Jesus in the midst of a broken and hurting world. And that’s been the case for 2,000 years. But sometimes we forget. We need just millions and millions of people taking that winsome nature and showing and sharing the love of Jesus in a broken, fractured and outraged world.

Jim: Amen. Ed, great to have you with us.

Ed: Thank you.

John: And be sure to join us tomorrow for the Thursday edition of Focus on the Family. We’ll hear from Pastor Mark Batterson about what it means to truly be a man.


Mark Batterson: A tough guy is not someone that can bloody a nose or blacken an eye. It’s someone who’s willing to hang on a cross for someone else’s sin.

End of Teaser

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Ed Stetzer

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, and serves as the college's Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadershp. He is the executive director of the Billy Graham Center, a prolific author and well-known conference speaker. Ed is also a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and co-host of the BreakPoint This Week radio program. Learn more about Ed at his website,