[notice]A monthly column that reflects on living in the Kingdom of God.[/notice]
I don’t know if you have noticed that is becoming increasingly difficult to think, evangelise and publicly behave as a Christian.
When we really get to grips with the reality of what it means to be a Christian, we will recognise that life is no walk in the park. We are marked men, women and children if we want to represent Him.
Our challenge in this global world is to lovingly arrest the attention of pluralistic belief systems with the exclusive claims of Christ. To do so, we need to establish three things: the exclusive claims of Christ, the reason why Christ made such a claim, and finally how to live in a post-Christian world.
Jesus made an exclusive claim to salvation
Jesus Christ made unashamedly exclusive claims that he was the only way to salvation. John 14:6 is a clear expression of this: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
This exclusive claim is reaffirmed by the apostles, a reaffirmation for which they paid the ultimate price. In Acts 4:12 they boldly declared: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
It is these exclusive claims that will get you into trouble in the post-Christian world of today. The Apostle Paul wrote to his protégé and to us with this promise in 2 Tim 3:12: In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
As much as I respect “the Arch” for his tremendous contribution to our nation (and pray for his speedy recovery), I cannot agree with statements he made on God and Christianity, when he said: “Most of us think God is a Christian, but if you think that God is going to tell the Dalai Lama ‘you’re a good person, but sorry you’re not a Christian’ then (I say) rubbish.”
In this world of political correctness, making a statement contrary to this will get you into trouble. AW Tozer hit the nail on the head when he said: “Our walk by faith, if it is true biblical faith, will get us in trouble.” Let us be totally clear and potentially troublesome: Christ alone is our saving faith, and we are lost and hopeless for eternity without Him. Have you got into this kind of trouble lately?
Why Jesus made such a claim
Once we have arrived at this point of agreeing to the exclusive claims of Christ, our next task is to be able to state WHY Jesus made such a claim. In other words, why did Christ say that He was the only way?
In the various contexts we live and interact in, we’ve got to be able give reasons why. 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to…always be ready to tell everyone who asks you WHY you believe as you do. Starting from our hearer’s world, we have got to be able to explain how Christ alone identifies and then addresses the central problem of our human condition: the sinful, depraved heart that can be only be transformed by a sinless God-man Saviour, who is both loving and holy, merciful and just.
We have got to reveal how the other competing worldviews are powerless to change us, either because they ignore the sin issue or because they believe they can author their own salvation apart from the historical sinless Christ.
Finally, we have to bring this issue to bear on all other issues of life. Tim Keller has rightly mentioned that the gospel is not just the ABC, but the A-Z. In other words, we have to give people ‘the whole story’ that is big enough to affect every area of their life.
Harry Blamires wrote the following in his classic The Christian Mind: “There is no longer a Christian mind … the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion — its morality, its worship, its spiritual culture; but he rejects the religious view of life, the view which sets all earthly issues within the context of the eternal, the view which relates all human problems social, political, cultural to the doctrinal foundations of the Christian Faith, the view which sees all things here below in terms of God’s supremacy and earth’s transitoriness, in terms of Heaven and Hell.”
Put differently, we have to show our friends that Christ alone has the grip on ultimate reality and His resurrection endorses his claim to be THE way, THE truth, and THE life. As Tim Keller again tweeted: If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all He said.
How to Live in a post-Christian world
1 Pet 3:15 not only exhorts to give a reason for our hope, it also tells us HOW to do so. It reads: But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
In other words, we are called revere Jesus as Christ as Lord, we are called to explain to people WHY He is such, and we are to do it with gentleness and respect.
Often we are fooled into thinking that WE have to choose between being unloving and thumping them with the truth, or unfaithful to the truth and politically correct.
Rick Warren wisely said: “Our culture has accepted two huge lies: The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.” Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate. If we listen to the taunts of mainstream media from their walls of Jericho, we will be cowed into thinking that our options are either to act like a pastor who delights in the death of gays, or to become cultural chameleons who never challenge the status quo. No, our greatest example is Christ himself. Our Lord was able to present the truth without compromise while being compassionate and respectful towards his enemies, even at the cross.
May we not compromise truth and love as we engage with a post-Christian world.