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Provoked or Offended?

Posted by on Jan 24, 2011 in books, missional | 4 comments

Provoked or Offended?

In his book The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons describes a new generation of Jesus followers in the United States (a generation that he called the “new normal” or “the restorers”). (My review of this book will be posted tomorrow.)

In the second part of his book – Part II) The Restorers – Lyons compares and contrasts (generally) this new generation of Christians with those who have come before in the previous generation or two (especially).

For example, he says that “the restorers” are provoked by the world’s culture when previous Christians may have been offended.

Lyons writes:

No one – Christians included – can avoid all contact with potentially corrupting people, systems, perspectives, and influences. For everyday followers of Jesus, this tension begs the question: How should Christians react when placed in an environment that celebrates sin, overlooks injustice, or tolerates immorality?

Michael Metzger has said, “When confronted with the corruption of our world, Christians ought to be provoked to engage, not offended and withdrawn.”

In contrast, classic Separatists Christians (the insiders, culture warriors, and evangelizers) are often offended by corruption. Characterized by their lifestyle choices, these Christians tend to remove themselves from potentially harmful situations – citing their disgust of immorality or their pursuit of holiness as the reason…

This approach does little to transform our existing culture or further the mission of God in our world.

When a community is provoked, they assume a proactive posture; when a community is offended, they assume a reactive posture. (page 75)

Do you agree that there is a difference between being provoked by culture instead of being offended at culture? Which posture (provoked to be proactive or offended to be reactive) helps a community best further the mission of God in our world?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-24-2011

    I think that is a great observation. As believers I believe we need to engage our culture. Paul engaged the Epicurien and Stoic philosophers in Athens in Acts 17.

    The Gospel is relevant to all cultures. Jesus dealt with the masses and shied not away from sinners.

    I have been of the separatist thinking, especially being a homeschooler. I have been rethinking those attitudes recently. Thanks for posting that Alan.

  2. 1-24-2011


    We also homeschool, but we are are still trying to engage our culture, not separate from it.


  3. 1-25-2011


    Gabe Lyons said, “How should Christians react when placed in an environment that celebrates sin, overlooks injustice, or tolerates immorality?”

    The word “act” might be better than “react”, which suggests the likely hood of a negative response, or opposition.

    React is exactly what was expected, and normal for “good Christians”.

    It took me many years to learn that my reactions were out of line with what Jesus did in the circumstances which Gabe envisions. There were no untouchables for Him!

  4. 1-26-2011

    Aussie John,

    Yes, I think Lyons prefers the term “proactive” instead of “reactive”.