Speaking to a gathering of pastors and ministry leaders in Fort Lauderdale last month, Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive, said he is concerned when he looks at the culture wars that are so pervasive in our country.
“Does anyone here know anyone who was beaten into the Kingdom of God?” asked Daly. “The one weapon Satan can’t steal from us is love.”
While acknowledging that he is conservative in his politics, Daly said, “I don’t want FOX News running my theology.” He shared 2 Timothy 2:23-26 as a model. “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants” (NLT).
Daly pointed out, that the Scripture instructs us to be kind to everyone. “Sometimes we’d rather correct with force. We prefer a zero sum game. I win you lose. But we as Christians forget we didn’t have anything to do with our salvation. What did we really do, but say yes to Christ. We didn’t hang on a cross. Yet we tend to look down at the gay activists. The only difference between them and us is what Jesus did.”
“I believe Phariseeism is deeper, stronger and more powerful today than in the day of Jesus,” said Daly, adding, “I want to walk that line that represents the Lord. Remember, we don’t live in the Old Testament. We live in Jesus. And what I see in the New Testament is don’t go out of your way to be hated. Get out of the way and let the Scriptures speak for themselves.”
Partnering with opponents
With these concepts in mind, Daly said he has tried to reach out to those who don’t expect it.
Daly recently practiced this when he reached out to foremost gay activist Tim Gill, founder of the Gill Foundation, which, according to their website, has invested more than $277 million in programs and nonprofits across the country working to advance equal rights for LGBT people.
They initially met for coffee, and Daly said, “He has become a friend of mine.”
After getting acquainted and sharing life stories, their conversation shifted to legislation. Eventually the two worked together to get legislation passed that made Colorado’s sex trafficking laws tougher.
Daly said the experience reminded him of Luke 6, when Jesus says, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you…If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?…You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (NLT).
Refining the Golden Rule
“I believe love those who hate you is a much bigger golden rule than we apply today,” said Daly. “We need to look within our community and start dealing with this stuff. We’ve got to behave better and treat the world with love.”
Daly said he has received some criticism for these interactions. One large donor told him, “I don’t think the president of Focus on the Family should be meeting with gay leaders and abortion people. It sullies the role.” However, Daly was not swayed and remained true to his convictions, saying, “It gave me a taste of what the Lord must have encountered when he was accused of eating with sinners and prostitutes.”
In a similar attempt to reach out to those who least expect it, Daly called a woman named Emily at NARAL, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, and said, “If you want to make abortion rare, let’s meet.” The group commonly states they work to make abortion safe, legal and rare.
Visibly nervous about meeting him, Daly said that over time Emily has also become a friend and utilized Focus on the Family resources while going through a difficult life transition.
“If we want to win the battle, we have to do it by winning hearts,” said Daly. “Like the Lord said, ‘love your neighbor.’ Speak the truth with love and let the Holy Spirit do its work.
Daly shares these sentiments and more in his book, ReFOCUS: Living A Life That Reflects God’s Heart. For more information on Focus on the Family, visit www.focusonthefamily.com.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, please visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/