Happy 2017! It’s my hope that you’ll have a productive year, spiritually, financially, relationally, in every way. For this first post of the year, I’ve had something on my heart for a few weeks now. I think this is super important, so I hope you’ll persevere to read this entire article.
We need conversation. We need it more than ever.
I’ve been in a conversation with a friend during this past week that we’ve laid down and picked up as time allows. He’s had questions about the Christian faith that we’ve been talking through over the course of this week. I’m glad he feels comfortable asking me, and I’m happy to engage in this discussion with him. However, he told me something that’s just struck a sour chord in my spirit. As we spoke, he said that he’s tried to have these conversations with other Christians, but the answer he would frequently get to his questions was, “because the Bible says so.”
My friend is a Christian, he’s an intelligent person, but he’s encountered some questions that are troubling him. [As a side note, if you read the Bible and are never troubled by anything you read, you aren’t reading it right.] If the best answer we can offer him is, because the Bible says so, we are in a world of trouble.
Admittedly, there are things about the Christian faith that defy explanation. Trinity? God’s sovereignty vs. man’s free will? Virgin birth? Jesus is coming back in the sky on a horse? There are things that we must accept by faith because God has said it is so. However, with that said, just because something defies explanation doesn’t mean there can’t be a reasonable conversation. And fortunately for us, the Bible is full of things that God has made clear for us so we can explain them. Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us clearly that there are things that God has kept secret from us – unexplained – and there are things that he has made clear for us.
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29 ESV
Christians, we’ve got to man up, get some study in, get some apologetics in, get some knowledge of what we believe under out belts! If we can’t build up each other in the faith when hard questions come, then we are failing to live out the faith the way Christ intends. 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness, but that it comes through one thing: the knowledge of him who called us. If we want to live out this Christian life successfully, if we want to edify our brothers when their faith is shaken, if we want to build up each other in our most holy faith, we must increase in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. We can’t be satisfied with just being saved from hell. We must press in further like people who run to the front row of a concert, just trying to be closer to the performer, hoping for a touch, a gesture, a selfie. That’s how we should pursue Jesus!
It’s of no help to cut the conversation short with because the Bible says so. Man up! Learn to have conversation. Learn to engage with the questions that people ask. If you don’t know, just say you don’t know, but get hungry and go find the answer! I’ll say it again: even with the unexplainable things, we can still have reasonable conversations.
This past Sunday, Pastor David preached from Matthew 5:6.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6 ESV
Are you hungry for more of Jesus? Do you thirst for him like you thirst for water after working outside on a hot day? This is what it takes! This kind of desire to know him better. Knowing him comes through prayer, but it also comes from studying the Word. Not just reading it. Studying it!
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15 ESV
Always be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you. The atheist. The skeptic. The young Christian. The doubting Christian. Those you are hurting. Those who are in trial. Those who are persecuted. Those who are seeking to learn. We must be ready to give an answer, Church!
And do so with gentleness and respect. Don’t condescend. Don’t get impatient. Don’t scold people for the lack of understanding. You too were once ignorant. Respect people where they are, answer their questions humbly, and let God do the convincing. And whenever you encounter a question you can’t answer, that should move you to seek understanding. Don’t be satisfied with being ignorant, or don’t be satisfied with always passing people off to your pastors. You do the work! Learn the Scripture. Contend for the faith. That’s what your pastors should be trying to equip you to do.
This isn’t a soapbox entry. I’ll never stop beating this drum. Average Christians need to desire for greater than average things. Stop settling for an average existence. Stop settling for letting the hired guns do the hard work of study. Start digging. Start searching. Your Christian life will never meet its intended potential if you settle for what you think you’re capable of doing. When God saved you, he changed your potential because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world, and than he whom you used to be.
Learn to converse with people about the faith. You don’t have to be eloquent. You don’t have to know the jargon. In fact, the jargon probably isn’t the best vocabulary to use when your helping someone. Speak with your own voice, in your own way, but let the Holy Spirit lead you in what to say. Learn the Scriptures. Unleash the divine power God has placed within you for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who has called you. Knowledge isn’t the power itself, but rather it unleashes the power you’ve been given in Christ.
Happy New Year!