Don’t defend your ideas – spread them

Seth Godin is talking about intellectual property rights here, but this is relevant to the Gospel, too:

So, how to protect your ideas in a world where ideas spread? Don’t. Instead, spread them. Build a reputation as someone who creates great ideas, sometimes on demand. Or as someone who can manipulate or build on your ideas better than a copycat can. Or use your ideas to earn a permission asset so you can build a relationship with people who are interested. Focus on being the best tailor with the sharpest scissors, not the litigant who sues any tailor who deigns to use a pair of scissors.

Instead of majoring on fear of losing religious freedom, or fear that our gay neighbors will marry, Christians will be a lot more effective if they invest their time and energy into prayer, repentance, almsgiving, and effectively doing love to the people we have contact with. We don’t need to “defend” traditional marriage – what Christians need to do is live traditional marriage: teach chastity and faithfulness by example and also verbally in worship and discipleship. (If you can’t prove you have the goods, don’t try to sell them!) We don’t need to fight a culture war for Christmas or for 10 Commandments at the courthouse; our calling as individuals and as worshiping communities is to be a light that draws people to Christ in us.

Historically, the Church has been most effective at testifying to Christ, making converts, subverting cultures and making saints, when the culture has been hostile to the Church. Other than a quite natural love of ease and popularity, there’s no eternal value in fighting for religious rights or preferences. Since when is it easy to be a disciple?

Christians who let fear drive them into a defensive posture against the bad old secular culture make themselves and their religion so unattractive it’s no wonder they’re marginalized. A victimized, mistrustful siege mentality is the opposite of Christ’s image of wellsprings of life flowing from within each of his confident disciples. Fear makes Christians look like the music industry agencies who constantly cry “Victim!” about piracy, and then wonder why nobody wants to buy their pop music.

If you’re in relationship with the God of infinite creativity, hope, joy, mercy and peace, then act like it :-)

tl;dr: Don’t defend your Christianity against worldliness; demonstrate that it’s better.

Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you. I find myself in an interesting position. I am a Christian, but since my “style” of Christianity is so different than the Christianity which I generally encounter in the popular culture in America, I can listen and react almost, I think, as if I were a non-Christian. I know that none of what I see and hear is attractive to me. I would never choose that religion. The defensiveness, the cries of “you must respect me and my religion!”, the demands for preferential treatment, are distasteful and disgusting and off-putting. If a religious philosophy can produce no better results than adherents who insist on being wished “Merry Christmas” at WalMart, then who needs it? I can do better myself.

    Fortunately, I have been exposed to something much better. I myself am not much better, but I know what the Faith can produce in me if I let it.

    — Sean+

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