In recent days, Mike Pence and Bill O’Reilly–two figureheads in evangelicalism–have been given the limelight. Each, of course, for a completely different reason.
In many ways, these individuals are completely unrelated, but in one very important way, there is a distinct parallel to be drawn.
Lest I attempt to paint with too wide a brush, I want to first state why I believe this is important for apologetics:
I believe that possibly the most important apologetic is one’s life. That is to say that the message you are proclaiming and defending will be of none effect if your life does not reflect the type of change you are offering others through Jesus.
To be sure, the purpose of this writing is not to comment on or try to make a determination about the character of either of these men nor any allegations for/against them. I only know about them what one can read online, and we all know how
truthful “informative” the Internet can be.
What is clear, and I think, can be safely commented on, is what a slight difference in the way these two men handled their public influence made on their testimony. And, just how powerful of an impact that small difference could make if put into practice in our lives.
The Scoop on Mike Pence and Bill O’Reilly
For those of you with your head in the sand who have no clue what I am talking about, allow me to fill you in very briefly on two recent situations involving these men:
Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States, took a firm stance in his marriage the other day when he publically made it clear that he would not entertain the notion of dining alone with a woman other than his wife of over 32 years. Liberals outraged over this and made absurd comments that suggest if he won’t dine alone with another woman, he won’t place women in key positions if they are deserving.
This, obviously, is ludicrous and agitating (not to mention a serious staw-man argument). Society may have no respect for their marriages today, but Mike Pence still does. He held to his convictions and made it a matter of public awareness that he would not allow himself to be put into a position where his integrity could be jeopardized.
Bill O’Reilly, a political commentator for Fox News for over 20 years, found himself in a different situation. His career was ended abruptly just a few weeks ago when allegations of sexual harassment were brought to light. The company paid out millions of dollars to those who came forward in a settlement, in exchange that they would not reveal their identities.
Whether or not these accusations are true, I do not know. They were obviously substantial enough to warrant serious, immediate action. Bill made out “okay” (he received a 25 million dollar severance), but not unscathed. Money isn’t everything–a lesson I’m sure (at least I hope) that Bill is learning as we speak.
So, the million dollar question is, what does this mean for us?
We obviously have two very different situations here, but nevertheless, they both reflect back on us who consider ourselves evangelicals. These are people whose influence, like it or not, will have a direct reflection on who you are in the eyes of many.
In the political and cultural arena, we tend to get lumped together with a lot of people who do not share the same theology and sociology as us, so therefore the same is true in reverse.
In essence, if you hold a position of influence at all (and we all do), your life actually says something about the lives of many. Of course, ultimately, your life also has a direct reflection on Jesus Christ, whom we contend is the Hope and Savior of the world.
I believe there are at least 4 steps we can take to help us guard our character and live consistently with what we preach and teach:
Step #1: Grasp your Convictions
Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”
Can I tell you, we live in a confused world? I mean we don’t know our right hand from our left, and many of us would lose our head if God had not attached it the way that He did.
I just read a headline earlier today that said: “Beer made from urine is the newest offering from Danish brewery.” Really? Have we come so far that our standards are just completely out the window?
According to the Bible, we can KNOW what we believe. We can KNOW where we stand. Notice the instruction in the book of Hebrews: Hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.
That speaks to me. When confronted with a compromising situation, hold fast. When you are in the valley of decision, hold fast. When temptations are about to overcome you, HOLD FAST!
I titled this step, “Grasp your convictions.” Here’s why: When you enter into a position of influence among your peers and among those who you are trying to win with the gospel, you are in serious danger of losing your convictions.
I have news for you: the gospel is not a popular message. The Bible teaches that the gospel itself will offend. Why is that? It’s because the gospel teaches Truth that is CONTRARY to what the natural man wants to do. That’s why this Christian life is one of “cross-bearing”!
When your message moves much further than your immediate circle of influence, the devil will really start bothering you, and so will your fleshly pride. You will be tempted to compromise; to change the message to what someone else wants to hear.
Don’t do it! Don’t teach what’s popular, teach what’s true!
I really believe this is an area where VP Pence and O’Reilly differ. If the allegations are true, then somewhere along the line, Bill O’Reilly compromised on his convictions. Somewhere along the line, what he held to be most true in his life took a backburner to the way he felt in the moment.
Let me, again, be real careful here–I do not know if what has been leveled against him is true. But somehow, there is enough evidence and truth mixed in with the story to have warranted serious action being taken with almost no defense offered for his actions.
Pence, on the other hand, has made his convictions clear. He believes the Bible. He believes that his wife is worth more and is more deserving of honor and respect than any critic could possibly steal from him.
Christian friend, GRASP onto your convictions. Don’t compromise them for anything, or anyone! If you don’t believe something, you will fall for anything. Don’t let that happen.
Know what you believe, be able to defend that belief, and mark your life with consistency until the day you die.
1 Corinthians 10:12 – “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
Step #2: Gauge your Candor
2 Corinthians 2:17 – “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
So once we have our convictions nailed down, we need to be sure that we are communicating in a way that directly reflects what we believe.
There is no room for a double-tongue mindset within Christianity, and especially when you hold a position of influence or authority. It would be so easy to believe one thing in our hearts, and say another with our lips.
The Bible gives many examples of this. I am reminded of the Apostle Peter. Let me say, the Apostle Peter is one of the prime examples of Christ’s love and grace. Jesus knew Peter would deny him! There was no room for doubt about the matter.
And yet, we find that Peter had one thing to say in his heart, and another to say with his lips. In his heart (and to Christ) he said, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” But with his lips when the accusations came, he said with cursing and swearing on his lips, “I know not the man.”
Would to God that we would gauge our own candor! We ought to examine ourselves daily, and make certain we don’t become the one who says one thing about his life, and yet does another with his life.
This kind of double standard (hypocrisy is what it boils down to) is one of the primary reasons people stay far away from “organized religion.”
Am I a hypocrite? Oh yes–of the worst kind. I can echo Paul’s sentiment when he said: “of sinners I am chief.” But I thank God for grace, and as the Lord works through us and in us, may we leave behind that wicked brand of hypocrisy and double-tongued talk.
God gave us His best, and we ought it to give it our best for Him. That means representing Him well. That means in the public eye, making SURE that our actions back up our convictions.
Let’s do everything in our power and God’s power not to become the person in Titus 1:16 – “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”
Step #3: Guard your Character
Proverbs 4:23 – “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
This is the last “inward” step I want to mention. This is where the rubber meets the road.
When you establish your convictions, and you communicate those convictions in step 2, you are putting on display what we will call your “moral character”, or simply your “character”.
Our preacher recently preached a message on “character” being a “missing link” in all of Christianity. I believe that to be 100% true.
Specifically, I want to hone in on the thought of “guarding” your character. When you are in a position of influence, and there are millions of eyes on you, how can you help but take the proper steps to guard your character?
I’m sorry, but this is one area where my criticism of Mr. O’Reilly is going to seem harsh. This man has spent decades on the conservative evangelical side of the Media. How in the world could he let this happen? I understand that false accusations can be made against anyone–look at our Lord, Jesus!
And if that is what happened here, I would not be surprised. But either way, seven people have come forward! Are we to believe that there is ZERO chance of one or more of these allegations being true? And if that’s the case, in what areas did Bill let down his guard enough that this accusation could be made and hold any water whatsoever?
I must congratulate Pence in this area. He really took a beating from the left for standing up for his character, but I’ll applaud him all day for it! This man knew that it was not enough to believe something, and not even enough to communicate sincerely about it–but that he needed to take initiative and put up the shield in his marriage so that NO outside force was going to come between them.
This man took what he holds to be sacred and unapologetically let the WORLD know that his guard was up.
In other words, Pence stepped up BEFORE a problem occurred and laid the ground rules that if accusations were to ever arise, there would be a good reason for him to remain innocent until proven guilty!
To be Christian and to hold strong convictions is not to be a pushover. I get tired of people thinking that the word “Christian” should automatically equal the left’s definition of “tolerance” (which is “celebrating, not merely tolerating, that which is contrary to their own convictions”).
As a Christian, I love people. And I think that’s the right thing to do! But I also love my Jesus, my family, my Bible, and everything else that I stand for. GUARD that moral character–let people know up front that you won’t give up your convictions without a fight.
Step 4: Give out your Confession
Mark 16:15 – “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
When you get steps 1-3 right, it becomes easy and almost second nature to do step 4: tell the Story!
I used “confession” here for the sake of alliteration, but I am trying to get to “profession” in the biblical sense. In other words, SHARE, unashamedly, what you believe with everyone you can.
This is the Great Commission in action.
I gotta tell you, it’s going to be hard to do step 4 if steps 1-3 are not in check. For many years, Bill O’Reilly has had massive influence in evangelical circles. Now, in just a moment’s time, that influence has severely dwindled if not made extinct.
Those who considered him a trusted voice may now question if he has ever told the truth.
Christian, if you are going to publically share what you believe to be true about the Bible and about Jesus Christ, you had better grasp your convictions, gauge your candor, and guard your character.
People already have a propensity not to listen when someone starts to share the gospel–what happens if this person knows things about your life? What happens if this person knows that you do not consistently live in the way you profess to?
Look–we are not talking about sinless perfection here. We all mess up and we all need grace. But there is a biblical difference between sinning and living in sin.
You must share your convictions with others. This step not optional! But how can you possibly do it if you don’t know what you believe, if you don’t act how you believe, or if you haven’t put up boundaries to guard against false character accusations?
To sum up what I am trying to say: Let these two men, in high positions of influence, be an example of how to and how not to take these steps.
And before you tell me you have no influence, take a close look at your life. On the job, in the church, at school–people are looking at you and watching you, and even MORESO if you openly claim to be a follower of Christ.
To bring this back to home base, in your apologetic endeavors, this is of utmost importance. People who practice apologetics typically find themselves in situations where their faith is on display. Make SURE what your life is displaying is consistent with what your mouth is saying.
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!