An Unacceptable Faith
They stood in dismay as their houses were destroyed before their very eyes. Bulldozed and crushed so that nothing survived, they had nothing left. They could have saved their homes; all they needed to do was renounce Christ and turn to Islam. Standing together, these 7 Pakistani families would do no such thing, despite the cost. Using falsified government documents, the men asserted authority that the really didn’t have. One the very same day, but across the globe yet more families were denied housing, in the Mexico region of Chiapas. Earlier 47 evangelicals had been expelled for their Christian faith and despite an agreement to allow them to return, leaders backed out of the agreement. Although these stories did not find its way into the United States news, it was only two days later that people would be inundated with shock as 21 professing Christians were executed in Libya.
Far removed from the persecution of the world, Christians in the United States face a different battle. Classified as hateful religious extremists, Christians find themselves embroiled in controversy trying to not only defend their faith, but their character. As the United States claims tolerance as its highest societal value, the “intolerant” Christians can no longer be tolerated by such an accepting culture.
As the world slips further away from Christ, censure and criticism will only increase. It does not take long to look across the country and the world to see that it is replete with situations that already exemplify the evolution of the societal mindset against Christians. This is not unexpected; as Jesus Christ was hated, His followers also will be hated (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18). Common is the question from believers in these circumstances is, “How do I respond?”
A Defensible Faith
The Lord, being sovereign, is quite capable of defending Himself. However, believers have the responsibility of proclaiming truth in a truthless culture. Believers have the distinction of being called defenders of Him against the offenders of Him. Far beyond a responsibility, Christians have the privilege of engaging others in a healthy dialog of faith. But to give a defense of faith, one must be content in his or her faith.
Faith requires an object. Whatever the object that one’s gaze is fixated upon will be the object of that person’s faith…..and everyone is fixated on some sort of object. For many, they are fixated on material things. Others are fixated on people. And still others are fixated on ideologies. Whatever the object may be, it is in this that a person finds their comfort and being. Their existence is then wrapped up in that very object.
For example, those who are fixated on people, their identity is wrapped up in the people they surround themselves with. Usually it is trying to surround themselves with people who will affirm them, even when they are clearly wrong. It is also combined with seeking out people of authority. And then when confronted by the realities of being in the wrong, a person can then point to those around them as their defense. They proclaim that authoritative figures abide in their presence and that those in their harem agree, therefore, they must be right. It is the same defense used by those fixated on material wealth. When confronted, they simply turn to their wealth and say, “Look at what I have accumulated, and therefore what I am doing must be correct, otherwise I would not have all this.”
For Christians, faith must find its contentment in none other than Jesus Christ. A faith that is truly founded in Him will be all consumed in Him. A contented faith remembers that God is in control in all circumstances. Contented faith will sustain a person regardless of the circumstances that surround a person’s life situation. And a contented faith will be shared with others.
As one finds their contentment in the Lord Jesus Christ, an overflow of desire to proclaim Him will result. A genuine faith will differentiate itself and inspire others to consider it as well. And thus, a defense to the world corresponds to a contented faith.
A Sustainable Faith
A defensible faith requires that it be a sustainable faith. A sustainable faith is supported and upheld by Jesus Christ regardless of the circumstances. A faith that sustains and a faith that defends begins with no less than 6 biblical principles:
- By being mindful of the Word (Colossians 3:1-4): The life of a believer will follow one’s gaze, and for this reason Paul writes for believers to set their mind on the things above where Christ, who is the Word, dwells.
- By being in the Word (Psalm 1:1-3): God’s revelation to us comes in the form of Scripture. Apart from Scripture one cannot understand God or His ways. This is the basis for Christian living and a Christian defense. Without knowing Scripture, neither is possible.
- By being a student and teacher of the word (Ezra 7:10): Ezra sets a prime example for one who first studies the word, puts into practice in his own life, and then eventually teaches others the word. Thus, abiding in God and being an example to others to do so.
- Be being discipled (2 Timothy 2:2): Discipleship is a crucial part of the Christian life. It provides both an opportunity to be taught in the Word but also to grow in Christlikeness through accountability.
- By being a doer of the word (James 1:22): The Word of God is not meant for simple head knowledge, but is meant to transform lives. It asks of us, a place in our lives in which we seek to put what we know into practice on a daily basis.
- By being a proclaimer of the Word (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15): Ultimately studying and doing the Word result in a defense of faith by proclaiming the word.
Each of the six principles builds off the other, often times overlapping. But it requires that we desire the Word and feast on it substantially. Each leads to a sustainable faith that enables us to defend what we know to be true to a world that denies the existence of truth.