Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

J. Warner Wallace: what causes Christians to be fearful of explaining their faith?

Here’s the blog post from the Please Convince Me blog.

Excerpt:

I’m presently training a group of high school students at the Unleashed Camp here in Southern California held on the campus of Vanguard University. This camp prepares young people to share and defend their faith, and students spend every afternoon putting what they learn into practice as they share the Gospel with people in the local community. Yesterday was the first day of the camp, and there were many students there who had never participated in evangelism of this nature. I could sense some nervousness in the room. So, I began by asking what caused them to be fearful about sharing the Gospel. – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/the-source-of-our-fear-when-it-comes-to-evangelism/#sthash.D4VY1U0C.dpuf

[...]They were afraid about how they might look or what might happen to them. Would they experience something awkward or embarrassing? Would they become uncomfortable? Would they experience some pain? Most of our fear of evangelism is centered on our own desire to be comfortable, and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than being embarrassed or humiliated by our peers. For these young people, it’s bad enough that they might look foolish to strangers, but there’s also the very real possibility that they’ll look foolish to their fellow students!

Wallace quotes a couple of verses, but there are some more that I think are appropriate:

“In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you…”
(1 Pet 4:4)

“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled…”
(1 Pet 3:14)

And a longer one:

1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.

4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

(1 Cor 4:1-5)

Or this one:

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

(1 Cor 4:12-14)

Or this one:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

(Dan 3:16-18)

Or this one:

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.

27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.

28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.

30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

35 For I have come to turn

“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36     a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

(Matt 10:26-39)

That last one is one of my favorite passages, because my family on both sides isn’t Christian. They’re Hindu and Muslim. I am the first evangelical Protestant in my household. I didn’t grow up in the church, although I was a Christian at a young age. But I never got the idea from church that Christianity was about serving my needs and making me have happy feelings and comfort. When I think of Christianity and fear of not being liked by other people, I think of three simple words: BUT IF NOT. I never thought of Christianity as something that would make my family or community like me. I don’t care if people like me.

I think that there is a real problem with young people today, where they are looking to their peers for approval in a way that I never did when I was growing up. But then again, we were immigrants and I have brown skin, and didn’t really fit in with the cool people. When I was growing up, I just worked as much as I could to earn extra money and tried to do well in school. I spent all my free time programming computers and playing sports, role-playing games and tabletop wargames. What did I care what people thought of me? They were not good people anyway. These days, it’s really different. Young people want to be liked.

By the way, please subscribe to the Please Convince Me podcast. I think that right now, it’s my favorite podcast. Tough-minded, practical Christianity from a guy from a non-Christian background, who has real life experience outside of the Christian bubble. If you are sick of church, try this podcast. You will not be disappointed.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , ,

If there were such a thing as Christian art, what would it look like?

Maybe like this:

Indomitable. Defiance.

Indomitable. Defiant. Unbreakable.

(Click for larger image)

There is actually a pretty strong theme of defiance, courage and non-conformity that runs through the Bible, in the Old and New Testaments.

Here are a few verses that come to mind.

“In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you…”
(1 Pet 4:4)

“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled…”
(1 Pet 3:14)

And a longer one:

1 This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.

4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.

5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

(1 Cor 4:1-5)

Or this one:

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

(1 Cor 4:12-14)

Or this one:

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.

18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

(Dan 3:16-18)

Do you have any verses that draw out this tradition of defiance?

But If Not

But If Not

(Click for larger image)

One of my friends who is a pro-life activist recently was going through some difficult trials and posted the short message “But If Not” on his Facebook page. Every Christian needs to understand the meaning of the phrase “But If Not” from Daniel 3.

Defiance is a very, very Christian thing to feel. So often we have this feminized, sanitized view of Christianity as happiness, politeness and cleanliness. We don’t want to offend anyone, or to be disliked by anyone, or to make anyone feel bad about what they are doing about the God who is there and is not silent.

Here is a trustworthy saying:

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”

- from “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis

I think we have to get used to this idea that being a Christian is no guarantee of happiness or popularity.

In my life, I have had to say things like this: “I’m really sorry that you don’t like me. I’m really sorry that my decision to honor God makes you uncomfortable. But I’m not going to change for you. I’m OK with being the underdog. I don’t have to be happy right now. I don’t need you to approve of what I am doing.”

It makes me laugh that people think I care what they think of me just because I don’t act against my conscience to approve of their sinning. I’ve thought through my views, and seen the evidence from peer-reviewed publications, and debated with people who disagree and won. I couldn’t care less about their desire for me to approve their reckless, selfish behavior. I interpret their desire for approval as weakness and I scorn their weakness.

Every Christian comes to a point where the things we hoped that God would do for us do not happen, when our former allies fall away from us, when the people entrusted with caring for us failed in their obligations… at that point we have to decide what we are going to do with God. I think Psalm 27 is an excellent thing for people to read who are in that situation.

By the way, Christians should have an eye out for other Christians who are in distress while striving mightily for the Lord. Act self-sacrificially in a way that you strengthen their relationship with God in Christ. Make plans to support that person, and carry them out. Most of what you are doing elsewhere in your life probably isn’t as important as the deliberate, strategic, intelligent support that you give to other Christians. Love isn’t agreeing with someone’s bad decisions or evasions – it’s being there and telling them the truth, and neutralizing threats to their faith. That could involve the use of money, spending time, expending effort, resolving intellectual challenges, defeating a challenger in a discussion for them, writing them with advice… anything.

You may enjoy listening to this lecture entitled “Giants in the Land“, by Dr. Walter Bradley.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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