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The True Disciple: Acknowledging Jesus Christ in a world that does not

The True Disciple: Acknowledging Jesus Christ in a world that does not

What does it mean for Christians to live out their faith in the public square, and how should we go about doing this as believers?  There is no doubt, you’re bound to get a host of very different answers to this question, but I want to look at a couple passages of Scripture to shed some light on what we know to be foundational.  As Christians, we should always live in such a way that others do not question whether we are believers.  And, when our Christian life conflicts with man’s wisdom and the way of the world, we are still called to follow Christ, unashamedly.

First of all, Scripture is quite clear that we are called to be a holy people, set apart for God himself.  Peter cites and doubles down on Leviticus 11:44 when he contrasts our lives before and after we knew the truth of the Gospel.  God commands us in Scripture, “….As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16).  In light of the new covenant, there are many things that have changed.  For example, some of us recently indulged in some tasty bacon that Lifeway offered at their annual breakfast for the Southern Baptist Convention.  However, God never contradicts himself, and there are certain principles that remain true, though they are manifested differently.  The point of the Levitical law was the separation of God’s people to himself.  By allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, we always get a fuller understanding of God’s word.  Peter’s reference to the law tells us that there is a distinction between God’s people and the world.  If we are living according to our calling, and because God’s ways are inherently different from the world, it should always be obvious who is a child of God and who is not.  In the words of Jesus, “…‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:20).  

In the same vein of our God-given call to holiness, we are also given perspective on where our loyalties should lie in Matthew 10:32-33, as Jesus proclaims “…everyone who will acknowledge me before others, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before others, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven.”  Sometimes we’re willing to confess Christ as our Lord, but find it more difficult to affirm and be vocal about the truth of Scripture when it’s less popular.  Many times, from the pulpit, pastors have exhorted and even warned us against compartmentalizing our faith.  Scripture exhorts us to do all to the glory of God, regardless of the context, whether at church, home, work, or elsewhere (1 Cor. 10:31).  

It is becoming more common in our generation to see people compartmentalizing Scripture, as Thomas Jefferson did, to suit their own minds and interests, rather than seeking to know the whole of what God really says to us in His word, the Bible.  This has become all too common of a problem, and it ties directly back to who we really believe to be preeminent in our lives – Jesus or the world’s wisdom?  Who is our final authority?  As Christians, we will ultimately have to answer to Jesus Christ, and him alone.  

Not acknowledging the truth of Scripture not only has eternal consequences, but also affects our freedom to acknowledge that same truth.  Ironic, isn’t it?  We may not deny Christ explicitly, but are we denying Christ by the way we live?  Or, do we deny Christ by what we selectively stand for, versus what we choose to remain silent about?  Truth, reason, and justice are not excused from acknowledgement, simply because they may not be popular in a culture.  We are without excuse.  Passivity is not a justification – “So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it.” (James 4:17).  If we do not fight for truth, it will become irrelevant, and one day we may wake up without any basis for the freedoms or voice we once had for God’s glory and the good of other people.  The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) rightly recognized that “We must be the people that stand and speak for religious liberty for all because a government powerful enough to deny religious liberty to groups they don’t like will eventually decide they don’t like you either.”

God has given each of us unique gifts, voices, platforms, and influence to be effective agents of light in a world that is ruled by darkness.  Let us remember, and practice daily the words of 1 Peter 3:15, which calls us to always be “…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…”. When we interact with people who we do not agree with, it is imperative that we act with utmost gentleness and respect towards them.  We need to display the genuine love of Christ before everyone.  People are not our enemy; the darkness and sin of this world is.  However, this call to respect and gentleness is not opposed to our responsibility to be a voice for truth, justice, and common sense in society.  You can fight for the pro-life cause and still love the unwed mother.  You can love your homosexual friend while still supporting the sanctity of traditional marriage.  Disagreement doesn’t equal hate.  May we be good stewards of what’s been entrusted to us and stand for truth, pointing others toward the author of life and everything that is good, the one true God, Jesus Christ.  

 

by Derick Dillard

9 Comments

  1. Regina Shea

    Thank you Derick for this verh important post. Some ladies and I were discussing this very thing recently. We were reminded that though we are in the world we are not to be of the world. We found that to be especially true in the areas of modesty and submission to our husbands. The world and sad to say even some “Christian” women don’t believe that we wives should submit to their husbands.

    Anyway, thank you for your encouragement in this post. I really appreciate what you write here. Have a blessed week!

    Reply
  2. Nora

    Amen to that Derick…

    Reply
  3. Abra

    Amen! Derick, a very encouraging article, thank you!

    Reply
  4. Natosha

    Thank you so much for this. I have been struggling lately with not letting the World view control me. I needed to hear this!

    Reply
  5. Megan

    Thank you for boldly speaking the truth and for thoughtfully sharing in order to encourage your Christian brothers and sisters! I am encouraged! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Diann

    They way that you recently used your platform to come for people who live a different lifestyle from you is wrong. When Jesus was with the woman at the well, the way He spoke to her gave her something to really think about. When another woman was being accused of adultery, He told the crowds of people to cast the first stone if they were without sin. I see Jesus as someone who was out of the box. He never condemned or shamed people publicly like you have. Do I personally think homosexuality is a sin, yes, but my words and the delivery of my words ought to be to get people to think about their choices, not to condemn and blatantly point fingers. I love Jill and the entire Duggar family and what they represent on national television, but you misused your platform. Your delivery of Jesus to the public was botched. The purpose of the message of Jesus Christ is to save them, to turn their lives around for the better. The only thing your message did was draw negative attention to not only your family, but other Christians as well. Going forward I pray that you think before you speak. Going forward I pray that you will choose your words wisely. Going forward I pray that you will have a little more empathy and love.

    Diann

    Reply
    • Derick & Jill

      Diann,
      First of all, thank you for your comment. I do believe that, as Christians, we need to use the utmost discernment, reached through much prayer and counsel from godly men and women. However, I also believe that it is biblical to extend both truth and love. We should always extend the Gospel with love and respect. Disagreeing about what is done in society is not the same as judging everyone who practices those things. For example, just because one speaks out against the legalization of abortion does not mean that one is judging all those who get abortions. It means that you don’t believe it should be legal. As far as comments addressing how our society feels about certain, more sensitive, issues, I believe it’s important to use our freedom of speech to be vocal about what is or is not a good idea for society. People give opinions every day (some legitimate and some not so much), and people also have the right to ignore it or listen and decide for themselves if it makes sense. People can choose to agree with others or they can choose not to. This is how good ideas gain traction and bad ones fade away.

      Reply
      • Regina Shea

        Thank you Derick for speaking truth. God bless you and your family.

        Reply
  7. Doreen

    Thank you Derick, I enjoy reading your blog posts. It is not easy going against world views and ideas, I have found this in my own life as well. Psalm 1:6 For the Lord watches over the ways of the righteous, but the ways of the wicked lead to destruction.

    Reply

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