There are people who insist that if you have beliefs you should keep them to yourself. That is, unless you’re a Buddhist, a Muslim, an atheist, an evolutionist, a Hindu, or a follower of just about any other religion or philosophy…besides Christianity.
In a world awash with political correctness it’s the Christians who are expected to keep their beliefs to themselves while everyone else is more than welcome to “enrich our understanding of other cultures”. The US government is recruiting and inviting people from cultures opposed to the Christian faith to come and mingle, homogenize and intolerate us (my own word creation). I love other cultures: I would be happy to see people of differing cultures mingle successfully. But there’s a price to multiculturalism. Behold the writing on the wall…
I was in Israel for several months one year, and had the pleasure (once past all the security checks) of attending Manger Square on Christmas Eve. I was not exactly dressed up for the occasion, which is possibly why, when I approached one American tourist and asked him if he were a Christian, he turned his nose up at me and replied, “Yeah, but that’s my business”. The demand to “keep it to yourself” sounds more strange and paradoxical when it comes from a professing Christian, and it’s amazing how many of them exist. Which gospel are they following?
So what about it: are they right? Should we cower in a spiritual corner for fear of “offending” someone, or respect them so much that we swallow our convictions while they tell us all about what they think?
The answer we live by will depend on what our faith is based on. If we really have no distinct convictions and we’ve been inculcated with multi-cultural brainwashing, and if we call ourselves “Christians” because we think we’re such nice people that God can’t fail to let us into his (or her) heaven, we’ll cave to the silencers and agree with them. We’ll cave for fear of being thought of as deluded, narrow-minded “bigots”, “extremists” or “fundamentalists”. These are all blanket terms designed to intimidate us into submission: judgmental accusations leveled by those who call Christians “judgmental”. They are the verbal weapons of people who are so “tolerant” that they just can’t tolerate us.
If, on the other hand, we really believe what we say we believe, we’ll recognize that there’s a vitally important message to convey, and we’ll accept and take to heart the command our Lord Jesus gave after his resurrection:
“…go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Preaching the gospel is exactly what the apostles did without fear, accepting the name-calling, the intolerance, the ostracism, and ultimately the physical abuse and persecution.
There is, however, a condition. It’s clearly defined by Paul, John and James, who declared that it’s no good spouting words and claiming to be spiritual and on a higher plain, if your words are not accompanied-and preferably preceded-by what accompanied the preaching of Jesus: love, mercy and good deeds. Paul said:
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?”, and:
“Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe and tremble” (James chapter 2).
You see, what people object to, what irritates them no end-and often quite rightly-is being preached at by someone who doesn’t care for them or even know them, or who is patently not living a life of love and integrity: that’s not impressive to the vast majority of people. They want to see truth in action, and they want to see real, genuine, no-strings-attached love.
So let’s obey the command of our Lord, if we truly believe that his word is true (and if we don’t, we’re still dead in our sins). But let’s do it in love. Let’s care about the people we intend to share our faith with, so that they can see that there’s some substance to what we profess.