“What are we afraid of?”
I asked myself this very question as I watched the evening news listening to stories of persecution and destruction. All the while wondering exactly why I watch the news to begin with.
For some Christians, persecution is a reality in their country. Yet while many of us would crumble under the fear of death, these Christians hold fast to their faith and some even die for it. Many have to pray in secret. Their conversations about Christ are a bit cryptic by our standards, but their faith is real and stronger in many ways then ours is. This brings me back to my original question: What are we afraid of?
The rest of us live in a country where, for the most part, we are free to worship. We are free to proclaim that we are a Christian… and yet we don’t. We hide our faith, and at times, it seems like we are ashamed to be a Christian.
“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” Matthew 10:33
“They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” Titus 1:16
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38
You cannot deny scripture that clearly admonishes people for denying Christ, and most of you reading this would say to yourself, “That’s not me!”. but is it?
A person who is not ashamed of Jesus proclaims and shares the gospel to others in a loving fashion. They lift people up and encourage them. People see the Jesus in them. They are the people who stand firm in their beliefs no matter what the cost because they cannot deny Christ in their hearts. They are the ones who stand up for their moral convictions, and they are the ones to take action when their faith comes into question. Whether it is convenient, acceptable, or challenging and socially unacceptable, they are the ones to stand firm in their convictions.
Are you this person?
Too many of us are not. When it comes to social pressures and tolerance we tend to conform to the world- not to Christ. Even though our hearts convict us of this misdeed, we are too quick to ignore the Holy Spirit’s prompting. How are people to know Christ when a child of Christ is too afraid to stand up for Him? How are you to lead people to Jesus when your actions do not echo His own? Are you any better than those that do not know Him? By your very actions you are denying the Lord.
We deny the Lord every time we accept something that we know is a scriptural lie- and yet we conform to it anyway. We enforce areas of “tolerance” by not teaching our children the truth. It is not enough to say “Don’t pick on that child because he is gay.” followed by a message that we should accept everyone no matter what because inevitably a why will come up. Many of us will say, “Because bullying is wrong.”, but we know it’s only a half-truth. If you know Christ, you know that homosexuality is an abominations to the Lord (Romans 1:26-28, I Corinthians 6:9-11). Our response should be, “Honey, scripture does say that homosexuality is a sin. However, choosing to deliberately make fun of/persecute/bully someone who is gay, is just as sinful. Scripture says that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and when we bully someone, we are not demonstrating the love of Christ.”
When we fail to tell our children the scriptural truth, we are denying Jesus and His Word. We cannot tell our children to tolerate sin because we don’t want to “rock the boat”. Sin is sin, and sin is wrong. However, Jesus should be our model as to how to teach our children how to behave. Jesus encountered and ministered to thousands of sinners- yet He loved them all. Jesus hated the sin, but loved the sinner. As Christians, we should hate the sin (not the person) because it separates this individual from the love of Christ. That, in of itself, is a tragedy- for someone not to know and feel the love of Christ. If we do not show love to the sinner, how are we ever supposed to have an opportunity to share the truth?
It doesn’t stop here, though. Christians are afraid of loosing their rights, but unlike any other group, we are afraid to stand up for what is acceptable in the sight of our Lord. We are afraid to proudly admit that we are a Christian! We allow people to take away our rights, and dictate what our beliefs should be. We are too passive in our faith leading those that do not know Christ to wonder what us “Christians” really stand for and believe in. It appears, on the surface, that we stand for nothing because we don’t want to be heard on the topic of our faith. Yet other beliefs are heard loud and clear.
Yet another way we deny our faith- when we let the darkness of the world take over…. passively.
What do you stand for and what are you afraid of? Are you afraid of being persecuted or shunned for being a Christian? If people are shunning you, you need to ask yourself if they are worth to be your friends anyway, and then pray that you will have an opportunity to witness to them. Pray for God to soften their hearts, but never back down or conform to the world’s standards. Christians who are weak in their faith make excuses for conformity which asks the question as to whether they were truly a Christian or not. Their actions just don’t line up, and scripture says to judge a tree by its fruit.
Is it easier to just conform rather than stand up? Where is the victory in that? By your actions, you just denied the truth. Why are you accepting a lie? Passivity is an action, too.
Loving God and being passionate about Him eliminates fear because there is a peace of knowing that He is with you. The world will try to make you conform. The world will tell you that your beliefs are on a decline, failing or doomed. The world wants you to be afraid because if you are, you are rendered ineffective for Christ.
I URGE you to break off the shackles that hold you back from being the example that God wants you to be in your family, in the workplace, and to your children. Never be ashamed of the gospel, stand up for what is Godly and just, and most importantly, never. deny. Christ.
You will be judged for your actions. Do you want Christ to say that He doesn’t know you?