Whether you are a student or in the workplace, it is generally expected that as a Christian, you will stand up for the truth. This takes a variety of forms for countless topics. Whether or not you are a very vocal and outgoing person you have no doubt identified what the hot-button topics are. It might be transgenderism, abortion, COVID, or any number of things. No matter what it is, these kinds of issues come to the forefront and become “controversial” which really means they are the most important questions to answer.
They are issues of significance, and the responses to them are more than just answers to questions; they impact life in meaningful ways.
Sometimes people love getting into discussions about controversial issues. It may be the thrill of the argument, of going back and forth with other people like some sort of game. But there are many of us, perhaps most of us, who are not like this at all. There is nothing fun about arguments, and we are not certain that if we did engage over these issues we would not end up looking ignorant. But this fear will never do, not if Christians are to be salt and light.
What Should We Do?
What, then? Are we all supposed to become extroverts, reveling in discussion and chasing down people for debate? I certainly hope not!
But at the same time we cannot really avoid such issues because whether we realize it or not, we are already fighting in the arena of truth, whether we open our mouths or not. Because when you get right down to it, a debate is raging.
It is a debate in the heart and mind—yours and mine. If we fail to realize this, then not only will we be unable to articulate the truth to someone who challenges it. We will lose the argument, lose the truth in the place it matters most: ourselves.
We are all called to be salt and light, but we must have flavor and we must have illumination in ourselves if it is to work. First Peter 3:15 tells us to be ready to give a defense, an argument, a reason, an explanation for the hope that is in us. This is a part of being salt and light: having a hope that bubbles up and out of the heart, to be ready to explain that hope, and speak the truth. But what is important to note is how this verse starts. Peter says, “Sanctify [set apart] Christ as Lord in your hearts.” This is the vial requirement.
Your success in the arena of ideas, the arena of life, depends on what you hold in your heart as truth.
Peter says that Christ is to be set up and set apart from all others as Lord in our hearts. We must be very careful here because there is a difference between Christ as Lord in our hearts versus Christ as Lord of our hearts. The latter is a very personal matter, and it is certainly true that He should be Lord of our hearts, but this is not what Peter is saying. He is saying that in our hearts, in the deepest most central part of our worldview we are to hold as the most important truth that Jesus is Lord.
What I am talking about is how we see the world around us. In the ancient Roman Empire, Caesar was considered the ultimate authority. He had the power over life and death and was lord of the world.
It is this central reality that would bring order to the Roman world, and it is this kind of thing that Peter is talking about.
We must recognize and accept Christ as the giver of meaning and direction in life.
All of what Christ has revealed Himself to be must be the compass of life. This is not just that He died and rose again, but that He rules and has authority over all authorities. His law is the measure of all conduct and truth. The fullness of His Lordship is what we are supposed to make the holiest truth in our hearts.
So what does this look like and how do we set about it? I would suggest you read the four gospels. Don’t just read them chapter by chapter, but try reading them in large swaths, finding natural breaks. Read them like books, and not some choppy religious book.
Understand the message the authors are trying to convey. Whenever an Old Testament passage is quoted go back and look at the context of that passage. There is a deeper meaning being conveyed than the New Testament author trying to get credit for quoting Old Testament passages.
Our hearts and minds are where the battle for truth begins.
Fill your mind with truth, and really think about what the word of God says. Do the hard work of studying and digesting. Devotion to God is more than checking off your daily prayer and daily reading. Real knowledge of who He is, the knowledge that affects life, requires effort. And let me encourage you that the reward is worth the effort.
- Five Views on Law and Gospel (Zondervan Counterpoints series)
- I Peter 3:8-22
- Mark (and every time you come across an Old Testament quotation, look up the reference and read the quotation and the chapters before and after it).
- What is the difference between having answers given to you by your parents and teachers and having your own convictions about the truth?
- The Bible does not address every situation directly. For instance, it doesn’t mention smartphones or social media. Does the word of God still provide instruction so that the disciple of Christ can be equipped for every good work? If so, how does it do so for situations not directly addressed?
- What will it take to develop a biblical world? What steps can you practically take?