Gabe Lyons on Real Christians: They Don't Criticize, They Get Creative
Gabe Lyons believes that the next generation of evangelical Christians doesn’t just whine or complain about the world's problems but finds a way to tackle it creatively.
In a Life Today interview that was re-broadcast Monday, Lyons spoke about his latest book The Next Christians and how to engage a postmodern world that no longer respects or has a positive view of Christians.
"Instead of being critics, when we find things wrong in our world ... we're called to stand up for what is right, what is just, what is good, what is true, what is beautiful," he said.
"But instead of condemning the world for that, critiquing people who haven't necessarily signed up to follow Jesus the way we have, I find in The Next Christians are the real Christians that they have the ability to create in the midst of that; to create ways that people can work towards fighting that injustice."
Asked by host James Robinson on how Christians can get creative instead of being critics, Lyons shared the story of how he and his wife responded to news that their son had Down Syndrome, a chromosomal condition that leads to problems in mental and physical development.
"Our son was born back ten years ago and was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. That was a shock to us, a surprise. I'd grown up in an environment where abortion was something I understood to be completely wrong and when I did the research on Down Syndrome, I realized nine out of ten of these children are terminated when the mother and father or one or both know in advance through prenatal testing – nine out of ten," recalled Lyons.
The young evangelical leader realized he could respond to his situation in a few ways: join the picketing line in front of abortion clinics or vote pro-life.
"Again, I'm not saying neither one of those are great things – they are! But I needed to be more creative than that. I needed to get involved," he said.
Lyons didn't like the grim picture being painted by online horror stories of families with children who have Down Syndrome so he decided to take matters into his own hands. Together with a photographer and a community of people connected to someone with Down Syndrome, Lyons created a booklet called "Understanding a Down Syndrome Diagnosis" to help tell the story of life with a child with Down Syndrome.
"In this book we show the story of everything from infants reading together, brothers and sisters hanging out together, kids skateboarding in the street with their neighbor friends, all the way to a lady doing ballet and also working out in the medical field," he said.
Lyons started to distribute the booklets to doctor's offices in Atlanta. Just a few months ago, he learned that the National Association for OB/Gyn plans to place the booklet in every doctor's office.
"But that's an example of creating instead of criticizing, right? It was just using my gifts in storytelling and photographers, that's what we're talking about. Christians showing up everywhere we see corruption overflowing in our world and not just talking about how bad this world is, but saying let's be a part of displaying for people what the Kingdom of God might look like when it shows up," explained Lyons.
During the interview on Life Today, Lyons also pointed to another Christian named Jamie Tworkowski who put on his "lens of creativity" to show the love of Jesus to people suffering from depression and self-injury.
Tworkowski founded To Write Love On Her Arms after his friend became addicted to cutting herself. The friend wrote a negative word on her arm to reflect the way she perceived herself.
Tworkowski spent some difficult nights with this friend in rehabilitation and eventually started selling T-shirts called To Write Love On Her Arms to raise money toward her rehabilitation process. The T-shirts and his message caught on. Rock stars started inviting Tworkowski to share his friend's story and Hot Topic began carrying the T-shirts.
Today, To Write Love on Her Arms has grown into a non-profit that helps people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.
"My response as a follower of Jesus is to go into this person's life and not only help them but think, who else is struggling from this and how else can I help even more people who might be struggling from this? And push back the evil that would otherwise overwhelm our creation if we don't stand with Christ to do that," said Lyons.
Gabe Lyons is author of The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America, which released October 2010, and co-author of unChristian. He is also the founder of Q, which educates Christian leaders through gatherings and regular discussions on their historic responsibility to renew and restore culture as God intended.