I’ve been following the news a lot lately, so I’ve become even more aware of how corrupt our country (and world) is becoming. Every day there seems to be a new story about an ‘intolerant’ Christian that speaks in agreement with any biblical truth. Simply stating a biblical truth brings all kinds of backlash from the secular world. Christians are constantly labelled as hateful, intolerant bigots that care nothing about others just for being in agreement with a traditional Christian viewpoint. I think the day is quickly approaching where the Church and individual believers are going to be asked very specific questions about what we believe. Are we ready for it? Are we ready to speak truth even when it means going against popular thought? I had the awesome privilege of teaching on this a few weeks ago and thought I would share my thoughts in blog form. My hope is that the Lord would use this as an encouragement, even if it’s just for one person.
*Disclaimer- I do not know everything about scripture or this subject. I speak only from what scripture I have looked up on the matter and what I have learned from it. Much of what I am going to say may be a little uncomfortable for some, so I pray that you will study scripture for yourself and seek the Lord’s wisdom, which is our ultimate authority. On a less serious note, I am no english or literature scholar so please excuse any grammatical errors.*
First, we must begin to understand more fully of what it means to be a Christ follower. Unless we are truly following Christ, we will never be able to stand up for truth. We will buckle and crumble under pressure every time. (I am currently reading ‘Follow Me’ by David Platt and highly recommend it if you like to be kicked in the face a little. It is extremely challenging.) So, what does scripture say about following Jesus? II Corinthians 5:17 and 18 tell us that anyone in Christ is a new creation. We are no longer who we once were when Christ is the Lord of our lives. Therefore, we should not look or sound the same. Our speech and our actions should now align with Christ’s. We see a great example of this in the apostle Paul. He became a completely different person when he began to follow Christ. (His name even changed!) This change in him was visible to those around him (Galatians 1:23, 24). When we follow Christ, it should be visible. We should look completely different than the world and who we once were. Also, following Christ means total and complete surrender to him (Matt. 10:37-39, 16:24-26). We are to die with Christ and endure suffering (II Timothy 2:8-13). We are to seek the approval of God rather than men (Galatians 1:20; I Thess. 2:4). We are not to be ashamed of the gospel (Romans 1:16). Look at this warning in Mark 8:38, “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” I don’t know about you, but this verse sure does make me pay a little more attention to how I am living my life. Am I truly a follower of Christ or am I just saying I am? There is a huge difference between saying I follow Christ and actually following Christ with my words and actions. The verses listed above are a good test to know if I truly follow Christ with my whole being.
So, once we have figured out that we truly are following Christ then we can begin to understand what scripture says about speaking and standing up for his truth. Many passages of scripture describe God’s children as soldiers (Joel 3:9,10; Ephesians 6:10-20). We truly are in a spiritual war and we are called to stand firm and fight for truth. We live by faith and remain steadfast, even in the midst of suffering and persecution (Hebrews 10:32-39). Look at verse 39 of Hebrews 10, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Imagine a soldier in a war shrinking back and running from the fight. It isn’t a very noble picture, is it? We would call that soldier a coward and not hold much respect for him. As soldiers, we are called to fight. We are called to stand firm and go against the opposition. We are to stand strong in our faith and not shrink back at the first sign of persecution. Remember, persecution should not even surprise us. Paul tells us to not be surprised by trials, but actually rejoice in them (I Peter 4:12-14). Christ even said that the world will hate us because of him (John 15:18-19). When we follow Christ and speak his truth, will will face trials and persecution. Therefore, don’t lose heart when that time comes! Find joy and comfort in it and know that you are truly following Christ. I Peter 4:14 says, “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” That’s amazing news!
But, Katie, what about love? Aren’t we supposed to love people and be nice to them? Absolutely! Scripture also teaches us about love (Ephesians 5:2; Colossians 3:14). However, loving someone does not mean tolerating sin or anything that goes against God’s truth. In fact, we are called to rebuke anything that isn’t truth (Titus 1:9,13, 2:11-15). However, we can do so and still love. Let me note here that this is not my strong point. Speaking truth and being bold comes very easily to me, but I admit that I have had to learn more of the love and grace side of things (and I still have a ways to go!). Through scripture I see that we can be both. In fact, we are called to be both. We must be bold and we must love. Christ was an amazing example of this. He often spoke about love (John 13:34, 15:9,10). However, read a few chapters of any of the four Gospels and it’s not hard to see that he also rebuked and called for repentance. He was not afraid to speak truth in boldness and was able to do it while still being love. Let us follow his example by speaking truth and standing firm against anything apart from it in love. We learn how to do this by abiding in him. When we abide in Christ, he will give us what we need to truly live for him (John 15:4-8).
My prayer is that each of us, God’s children, will remain steadfast in Christ. When the time comes, may we never shrink back and, instead, always step forward to proclaim his truth boldly and unapologetically. Ultimately, may we glorify our holy God in everything we do!