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Monday, September 16, 2013

Taking Back the Faith

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. – Romans 1:16

I collect cologne.  The top two shelves in our medicine cabinet are entirely devoted to bottles and samples of liquid designed to make me smell good.  I keep a Word document to help me keep track of the bottles I own, the samples I’m currently trying, and the fragrances I haven’t liked.  I will jot down notes on what scents I pick up…what type of person I could see wearing that cologne…what type of setting it should be worn in…what type of weather…and anything else that comes to mind.  This is my hobby, and I love it.  It’s not a “normal” hobby by societal standards—and I’m frequently ridiculed by family and friends for it—but I don’t care.  It makes me happy.

It’s easy to stand up for the things we love in the face of mockery.  Whether it’s a hobby, our favorite sports team, or our favorite band…we will speak up when others attack the things we care about.

Except our faith.

In a 2010 Barna study, it was found that 63 percent of Christian teenagers in 1997 said that they had expressed their faith to someone of a different faith, but only 45 percent said the same in 2009, noting that “Christian teenagers are taking cues from a culture that has made it unpopular to make bold assertions about faith or be too aggressively evangelistic…fewer young Christians apparently believe it is worthwhile to talk about their faith in Jesus with others.”

It is politically correct to be tolerant of everything…except Christianity.  You can be any person you want to be…live virtually any lifestyle you want…and people will publically accept you—except Christianity.  Christians are expected to keep their opinions to themselves and follow their beliefs privately.  To live a public Christian life is to infringe on others, and that’s simply not acceptable.

Today the shaming is not to say that you are wrong, but to say that you are arrogant if you think others are wrong.  Not that you have bad thinking, but that you have a bad attitude.  The greatest weapon of shaming today in the world of religious claims is the accusation that you are intolerant and therefore mean-spirited and egotisticalJohn Piper.

We avoid the awkward conversations.  When we’re talking with someone who isn’t a Christian, we tend to stay quiet about our faith.  “Well, I don’t want to make them uncomfortable.”  “I don’t want to seem pushy.”  “I don’t want to be a ‘Bible-thumper.’”  We shut up when they say our God-talk makes them uncomfortable, yet sit there quietly while they insult our Lord and/or make blasphemous jokes.

Did you know that NBC once told Veggie Tales to remove the Bible verses that popped up at the end of each episode so as not to offend viewers?  NBC.  The same network that has no issues with sex, language, drugs, and violence on its primetime lineup.

In order for Christian bands to get their music to the most people, they have to remove words like “God” and “Jesus” from their lyrics.  That way, a love song to Jesus can easily be viewed by a non-Christian to be just another love song to a girl/guy.  If you actually use Christ’s name, however, your song will never play on a secular station.

For the sake of being politically correct, we now say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

When did we allow this to happen?  When did we allow “Christian” to become a bad word?  When did it become taboo or embarrassing to be a Christian?  Are we so worried about some awkward moments between us and others that we’re willing to sacrifice their souls…and, in truth, our own?

Simply put: We hide the things we’re ashamed of, and we hide God—something He obviously has zero tolerance for.

‘Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’ – Luke 9:26

It’s time to take back our faith.  Our beliefs.  Unconditionally.  Unapologetically.  I am a Christian.  I love Jesus.  He is my personal savior.  If that offends you…tough.

I don’t mean that we need to be the guy that stands on the street and screams scripture, but it’s time we start standing up for God in the face of those determined to insult Him.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”  It’s kind of like standing up for a friend who is being bashed behind his back.  That kind of loyalty is highly rewarded.  The people who are insulting your friend won’t be very happy that you spoke up, but that’s their problem, isn’t it?  As Perry Noble writes, “If you are going to follow Jesus, you are going to upset some people.”

Let me be clear: There’s a difference between being a proud Christian and being boastful.  Arrogant.  Acting high-and-mighty.  That you have all the answers and everyone else is wrong and going to hell.  That person is the one giving Christianity a bad name.  That person is the reason so many flee from faith.  Being proud of God is not a sin; however, it’s worship (Romans 15:17).  Piper says, “When Paul looked out on the huge world of unbelief in his day, he felt a debt to all.  He didn’t look with utter disdain on the pagans of his day.”  Paul felt a debt to the unbelievers.  He had the love of Christ in him.  They did not.  Why should he be so greedy as to hog it all?  He wanted everyone to feel what he felt.  That was the debt he believed he owed to the world.  It is a debt we all carry.  It is a debt we must repay.  And through Jesus, we can do that humbly and joyfully (Philippians 2).  Furthermore, it is something we are instructed to do, albeit in a variety of ways.  Matthew 9:37-38 tells us to go out and harvest men.  Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to make disciples of all nations.  John 15:8 tells us to bear much fruit.  The message is clear: Share Christ with the world.

How?

We don’t have to overwhelm them with religious conversation; we need to simply reveal to them the heart of God.  We do that when we engage them in real relationships that don’t turn them into objects.  We do that when we simply love them in Jesus’ nameChuck Sackett.

Share your weaknesses, pains, and struggles.  Let the world see your imperfections.  Acknowledge them, your desire for improvement, and God’s love and patience with you—and His strength and desire to help you.  Pray for knowledge.  Pray for strength and courage.  Pray for opportunities (which means that you have to be ready when those opportunities arise.  Even Paul asked for prayer to be bold enough to speak on Christ’s behalf (Ephesians 6:20).  LEARN.  Read your Bible.  Go to church.  Attend small groups/youth groups.  Use this “information age” to your advantage.  Find information, facts, Christian blogs, Christian forums, sermons from pastors all over the country and world.  The more knowledge you have, the more comfortable you’ll be sharing.  The more comfortable you are, the stronger your message is.

But you must have a message.  How often do we say, “I’m a lead-by-example Christian”?  I know that I’ve said it a thousand times or more.  While it’s better than nothing, if people don’t know that you’re a Christian, how do they know what example you’re setting?  What does a Christian life “look” like anyway?  Being a good person?  There are millions of good people who don’t believe in God.  In fact, there are millions of good people who are very vocal in their DIS-belief in God.  Why do you continue to let them monopolize the mic?  Romans 10:17 says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God.  If you’re not speaking, no one can hear you.

I’m not telling you to go out and convert the world.  I’m saying to stand up for Christ when others are bashing Him.  Stand up for your faith when others insult it.  Let it be known what you believe.  You want people to ask you questions?  How can they if they don’t know you’re a Christian?  If Christians make no effort to affect the world around them, they are of little value to God (Matthew 5:13).  Mark Driscoll puts it another way when he says, “There’s something worse than dying, and that’s a wasted life.”

There are millions of Christians in this world.  There are millions of non-believers in this world.  Then there are millions who simply aren’t sure.  The non-believers are definitely not keeping quiet.  If we keep our mouths shut, what will happen to those in the middle?  The confused?  The unsure?  They will be lost.  WE will have lost them.  The Enemy is using awkwardness and societal political correctness to keep you from speaking.  From confessing.  From publically declaring Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  Look around you.  The Enemy is winning.  It’s time to fight back.  Faith comes by hearing…it’s time to let them hear.  And to do that, we need to speak up.

One day, each and every one of us will find ourselves face-to-face with Jesus, and in that moment, nothing else will matter except for this: Did you live your life, did you love your world, did you serve the purposes of God in such a way as to render these words from Him—“Well done!” (Matthew 25:14-30)?  That is the meaning of lifeDan Lian.

God has given you this love.  His love.  What are you doing with it?  Are you spreading it to others?  Are you helping His love grow?  Or are you burying it?  Selfishly hoarding it and giving back only yourself?  Are you a good and faithful servant, or a wicked and lazy one?


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.  This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. – 1 Peter 1:3-6

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