In response to Lloyd Omdahl's column (Dec. 24) I agree the church's mission field lies in the "public square," but this is different from the privacy where real issues of faith are discussed. Matters of faith are very personal and for the average evangelical, discussing faith issues with another individual only happens on a personal level.

An example from the Bible is the one-to-one encounter of Jesus and the woman at the well. You may argue the lack of respect for the church hinders this mission, which may be true to some extent, but the simple Gospel message has nothing to do with the church, and an effective delivery of that message to any individual should be solely rooted in mutual respect. In today's fast-changing culture Christians are instructed to be "in the world and not of it." That is, we should be participating in, and influencing our culture without becoming influenced ourselves, which especially includes anything that directly conflicts with our core Christian beliefs.

An example from the Bible is found in Acts 4. As a fellow evangelical I sympathetically identify with the Kentucky clerk and the Colorado baker who felt they were acting on their core beliefs. You can argue they should have been less combative and I would invite any meaningful discussions about such alternatives. If Christians are to influence our culture, the idea of "sacrificing our rights" I think is misplaced.

When Jesus tells us to "take up our cross" I have been taught over the years he is referring to the act of self-denial for the purposes of our sanctification so that we can become more like him. Looking at Jesus as he interacted in his culture he did not hesitate to speak and act (temple cleansing) to influence the order of the day.

Robert Kolberg, Bismarck

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