This is a quick response to the events of the past few days in Charlottesville, VA. I believe there are some serious implications of an event such as this on the task of apologetics. Our prayers are with the lives and families of those who were affected by this devastating event.
Tragedy has, once again, struck our nation. Truthfully, we live in the middle of a culture that is self-destructing.
Unfortunately, we are witnessing the effects of harbored and long-held beliefs as they are manifested in ways only the 21st century could have made possible.
We now have the ability to get our news–and share our opinion instantaneously. Not only that, but many of us find ourselves in heated online discussions saying things to each other we wouldn’t DREAM of saying in person.
And as much as it pains me to say, many Christians–myself included–have fallen prey to this.
But there is something different and unique happening this time. And frankly, this seems like what new territory for Christians in the United States.
A New Kind of Segregation?
When Donald Trump, of all people, was elected President of the United States, the cultural tide began to shift in unprecedented ways.
Let’s get something straight:
What is happening/has happened in Charlottesville is 100% wrong, terrible, condemnable, devastating and miserably awful. I’d be fine if every single one of them was locked up and never saw daylight again.
The problem is that in our anti-Christian culture, the blame is QUICKLY falling onto you and me–the conservative evangelicals who likely voted for Donald Trump in the absence of an ethically acceptable decision. No need to sugarcoat it.
So it no longer matters what you and I say we are for or against, nor does it matter what President Trump says he is for or against. If we are followers of Christ (or claim to be), we are grouped together (segregated) with those who carried out those atrocious acts–no two ways about it.
Now, this isn’t really anything new. For years, folks like Dawkins have been grouping us together with their false perceptions about the God of the Bible. But this time, it is striking even closer to home. Now, to be associated with a vote for Donald Trump is to be associated with a group of white nationalists and neo-nazi’s causing trouble in our own back yard.
The implication is that, as far as apologetics is concerned, this will be just one more stumbling block thrown in the face of anyone trying to witness for Jesus Christ. Now more than ever, we mustn’t just KNOW Christianity to be true–we must show it also.
Here are four important actions from Scripture that we can use and apply for such a time as this:
1. Gain a New Perspective
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” – Ephesians 1:17-18
I love this wonderful exhortation Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus (and likely the surrounding Asiatic churches). In it, he not only gives an incredible introduction to Jesus Christ but also gives a wonderful discourse on the nature of salvation and the Christian life to follow.
Notice that the Christian life is not one of “surprise.” A proper reading of Scripture lends itself to a pretty full understanding of what Jesus meant when He said: “take up your cross” (Luke 9:23). But in order to ever get to that point, we need the “Spirit of wisdom” and “revelation in the knowledge of Him” and the “eyes of our understanding to be enlightened.”
So when I say that you should gain a new perspective, I actually mean you should gain a biblical perspective. Now is not the time to be a back pew Christian.
There will be no back pew Christians in Heaven.
Some of these days, your faith will require you to take either a bold stand or no stand at all (1 John 2:19 will shed some light on this).
In a time like this, we must “examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must stand strong in our convictions in these days. Remember, true Christian convictions are those of love, grace, mercy, and Truth. We must discard ALL from our thinking that would hinder our dedication to those convictions.
In John 15:18-27 Jesus tells us, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Therefore, the perspective we must gain is one of reality–one that does not make light or remains ignorant of the culture we live in, and one that mimics the love of Jesus in the middle of it all. Remember, “We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19.
2. Understand the REAL Enemy
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. – Ephesians 6:12
Much to the dismay of many wishful thinkers, our true enemies are not “left-wing hair-brained liberals.” Nor are they neo-nazi’s, white supremacists, Black Lives Matter, and Planned Parenthood.
Our enemy is solitary–he just happens to have a huge employment roster. His name is Satan. He is real, he is bad, and he hates EVERYTHING that has to do with Jesus Christ. And make no mistake, he will recruit EVERYONE, in some way, shape, or form, who does not live a blood-washed life.
Everyone is either for God or against God (Matthew 12:30). The difference is that God desires that ALL men “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Satan, however, cannot be saved and will never be offered that free gift.
Therefore, we must choose to battle against the real enemy we face, rather than the ones who are simply, and even unknowingly, doing his dirty work.
This can be difficult, however.
It’s so easy to nitpick at the sins of others, as we see so much sin and brokenness in the world when we consider the tough issue like abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism, racial divide, etc.
The thing to remember is that Jesus died for ALL–the shed blood of the lamb of God is SUFFICIENT to cover all sin.
But Satan has blinded the eyes of many, and as a result, many will never come to “see the light” that God has revealed.
NOW is the time to get on our knees in prayer. Our prayer must be that God’s Truth breaks through the walls of Satan blinders while there’s still time.
Most of all, we must remember that EVERYONE is an image-bearer of God, and they must be treated that way. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. – Matthew 5:44.
3. Foster Unity without Uniformity
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. – Ephesians 4:13-15
The harsh truth to realize is that there are only two masters which can be served: The God of Heaven, or the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). For there to be ANY degree of uniformity between the two is unscriptural, and frankly, impossible.
But Paul says in Ephesians 4:13 that we must come to “unity of the faith” to be productive Christians. And, furthermore, to be able to withstand the competing ideologies of our day.
When this happens, we will cease to be “carried about with every wind of doctrine” and we will begin “speaking the truth in love” as we have been commanded to do.
It is important to remember that while we may have our differences on cultural or political issues, the heart issue of the unbeliever is really at the root of it all.
Since they are taken over by the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) have not “the love of the Father” in them, we just simply do not relate.
So while we should make our best efforts to unite as “one nation under God,” we needn’t be blinded to the reality that UNLESS and UNTIL the nation IS under God, the outcome we wish for is unlikely.
HOWEVER, one day, when God sets things right, those who have believed in Him will be united with Him for all of eternity. Therefore, we need to work hard NOW to see people saved and entered into a relationship with Jesus, so that one day, our longing for unity will be satisfied in Christ.
4. Ask, “What Would Jesus Do?”
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 2:5
This question is far more than an overused piece of rhetoric worn by every Christian teenager in the 90’s.
Rather, it is a DEEP call to search the Scriptures for how Jesus Himself handled the troubles of life. You see Christ made Himself low and took on the form of a servant for a reason.
In order to save “the least of these,” He had to become “the least of these.”
And yet, He handled Himself with mercy, grace, truth, and boundless love in EVERY single circumstance. Though Christ is indeed an amazing ancient teacher, He is also God. He has all wisdom, and insight into the hearts of men.
I think that is why Jesus was able to maintain a sinless life. Of course, as God, He is perfect–but Jesus was never limited by the inability to see the heart as we are. While we can see only the outside appearance, the Lord looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
We certainly cannot see a person’s heart, but we can see their need of a Savior. It is that need which should cause us to act and go further and further for Christ.
How we respond to those who see us as a threat or as the enemy will have EVERYTHING to do with how willing they are to receive the message we share.
I am encouraged by some who have stood up and pleaded with their own not to associate conservative evangelicals with the radicalism of those in Charlottesville, but I fear those voices will not be heard in a culture so ready to take up and fight against that which they disagree with.
Our response to these people should be bathed in the love of Christ. How did He handle such a thing? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
The key takeaway here is that even as our culture becomes more and more hostile to Christianity, our message must NOT change. We must hold higher than ever the banner of Christ, preach salvation by grace alone and through faith alone, and that JESUS is the only way to the Father.
Questions? Feel free to comment below and start the discussion, or click the blue button on the right (desktop only) to ask a question with a voicemail. We will do our best to answer in an upcoming post. Thanks!