Question #1: How does defending my faith play in the current culture without feeling I have to defend my God who needs no defense?
- Armor protects the one wearing it and it protects those that stand behind it. We face an onslaught of anti-God, anti-biblical sentiment in this nation and we wear the Armor of God to keep from being spiritually KIA and to protect those whose armor is still forming. Our job isn’t to take Satan out. That will happen at the end of the tribulation. Our job is to stand! Or in other words, a win for us is keeping our faith from being wrecked, not “winning the argument.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)
- If by “defend” you are referring to 1 Peter 3:15, where “defend” is the word from which we get “apologetics”, then we need a plan.
- We need to make sure we are serving Jesus (sanctify in your hearts) and not acting out of pride.
- We need to have a well reasoned explanation (testimony) for the hope in us.
- We need to endure suffering with joy so that people will ask why we are different.
- When they ask we need to explain our hope. (1 Peter 3:8-17)
- If by “defend” you are referring to witnessing, Jesus shows there comes a point when you have to dust off your feet and move on. (Matthew 10:14; Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5). In Acts, Paul says of his brethren, “Your blood is on your own heads”; it got to that point when they started to blaspheme (Acts 18:5-6).
- Paul, in an attempt to get the Corinthian Church to stop choosing up sides reminds us that God, not the evangelist, is responsible for anyone’s salvation. (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)
Question #2: I feel I need to pour myself out in love for Christ to reach others, yet I am often trampled. Do I retreat or keep going until I damage relationships beyond repair? I feel retreating is vital to save relationships yet I sometimes feel I’m compromising for an easy day. Oftentimes I feel I have cast pearls before swine because I felt that was the wisdom needed yet I did get quite lacerated in the aftermath for holding my ground. HOW does one navigate some of these hard waters?
- John ends his first epistle encouraging us to pray for those in sin. James ends his encouraging us to rescue them – so your impulse is correct.
- Being trampled is what happens in the world. (1 Peter 2-3)
- The issue, however, is complicated when it’s our own family.
- Loving a prodigal used to be a matter of praying for them to come home.
- Today prodigals don’t leave; they stay and want to be accepted. So…
- Pray hard
- Don’t let yourself be baited (James 1:19-20 tells us to listen before we speak and to remember that our anger is of no profit).
- Set boundaries, even if they are just in your own heart – have an escape plan (I like Paul’s handling of blaspheming Jews, but that’s hard for a parent – so maybe a timer?).
- Seek peace via agreeing to disagree and not rehash old arguments over and over (casting pearls).
- Love through action not unrequested advice.
- Take time to heal – if needed after each visit (I am thinking of 1 Kings 19 when Elijah fled Jezebel, but I’m reminded that even Jesus took breaks – Mark 1:35)!
- Keep answering softly. It does turn away wrath! (Proverbs 15:1)
Serving in the same trench as you,
*Ask the pastor was my regular column back when the newsletter was a monthly mailing. It’s harder to come up with a question each week, but I love it when they come!