“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:12, NIV)
Even Christian ethics has a missional aspect. We do not live for ourselves, but for God; and so, the mission of God should be in focus when we think about our behavior. Doing good, usually, is regarded positively by most people. Goodness is winsome, and love is powerful.
Of course, faithful Christian living in a pagan society will get you accused of wrongdoing. Every Christian in America today needs to understand this, because we want to be thought well of, we want to be considered good people, and that desire is being used against us. That normal human desire for respectability has been used to get a whole lot of people on board with a whole lot of wicked nonsense. But as the month of June has so forcefully reminded us, if the celebrities wouldn’t call you a hate-filled bigot, you’ve probably compromised on a biblical understanding of human sexuality. If you don’t fall within the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights’ definition of a hateful extremist, you’ve probably let the world corrupt your view of the sanctity of human life.
The price of a good reputation in a pagan society is too high.
But reputation in a distant, abstract, sense is one thing; how the people who know you feel about you is another. Supposing some neighbor, in lock-step with the spirit of the age, found out you belong to a church that holds a biblical stance on moral matters. They might think of you as a hater. But what if you’re the one who visited them in the hospital, and mowed their lawn while they were recovering? What if you’re the one who had them over for bbq, and gave them a ride to work when their car was in the shop?
Though they accuse you of evil, they see your good deeds. And this may make them open to hearing the gospel, and to the possibility that on the day of the Lord they will be among those gladly bending the knee, rather than those bending the knee in terrified conviction. Make no mistake, doing good isn’t sharing the gospel; but it is consistent with sharing the gospel, and it may pave the way for the message of God’s love.