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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Nothing to Hide, No One to Fear

Be yourself!

Living the Truth (1)

So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.”. Genesis 26.6, 7

Begin here
It’s important to keep in mind that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to equip us for every good work (2 Tim. 3.15-17). Why I emphasize all Scripture will become clear momentarily. What Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 3 and elsewhere are those daily works of truth and love that should flow from us as smoothly as living water flows from the throne of God (Jn. 7.37-39). Good works are the lived experience of Christ at work in us, the hope of glory and the power for making all things new. He has given us His Word – all His Word – that we might know truth to set us free from sin and enable us to live for the glory of God in all we do.

These days, when American Christianity features nearly 3,000 mega-churches and a vast and flourishing Christian subculture of media, ministries, and much else besides, the good work we surely need to focus on with greater consistency is how to live out the truth of God before a skeptical and unbelieving age. Our prominence and apparent prosperity have not prevented us from being a stumbling-stone for many. Scandals in various sectors of the Church, hypocrisy and self-righteousness regarding certain issues, coupled with the negative image of believers the media tends to convey, have made the life of faith something less than a desirable option for many of our neighbors.

Add to that the many outspoken detractors of Christianity who insist that believing in God is neither necessary nor reasonable, and, well, we’re facing some serious challenges.

If we are going to win our neighbors to the faith of Jesus Christ, we will need more than just a packaged Gospel message, a three-point testimony, and a truckload of answers to objections. In this unbelieving age we need to work harder at living out the truth of the Gospel – “truthing-it in love”, as Paul put it in Ephesians 4.15 – so that we may provide a complete, compelling, and believable witness to the life of faith.

Truth lived in all the daily details of life will open the door for speaking the truth in love (1 Pet. 3.15).

All Scripture – all of it
And that’s why we need to pay careful attention to every part of Scripture, be it ever so seemingly incidental, for what it can teach us about living the truth that is in Jesus.

Take this story of Isaac sojourning among the unbelievers in Gerar (Gen. 26). Isaac is one of the least-considered characters in the Bible because, while we hear his name often enough, the Scriptures don’t really offer us much information about him. It would be easy to read over this account as just a trivial narrative bridging the historical gap between Abraham and Jacob. The Scriptures have much to say about those two great patriarchs of the faith; Isaac, on the other hand, can seem to be merely transitional and therefore marginal.

But if all Scripture is inspired and profitable, then there must be something here that can give us comfort and hope, and help us in living our faith today (Rom. 15.4). In this brief study we’re going to discover just what that something might be.

Defeated and outed
As Isaac entered the land of Gerar, he was already a defeated man. He feared the pagan people of Gerar more than the God Who had instructed him to sojourn there (Gen. 26.1-5), so he lied about his relationship with his wife to protect his own skin. He told everyone Rebekah was his sister and not his wife. By so doing he put Rebekah’s wellbeing in jeopardy and, once his ruse was discovered, fouled the air of trust between himself and his neighbors.

God outed Isaac. The king of Gerar spotted him “having a laugh”, as the Hebrew has it, with Rebekah – a euphemism to describe their intimate embraces. Here was Isaac, whose name means, “laughter”, doing what comes naturally between a man and his wife – being himself, we might say, as T. D. Alexander points out in a note on this text in the English Standard Version Study Bible.Abimelech’s response was to reproach Isaac, respect his marriage, and restrain his own people from evil (vv. 10, 11). Had Isaac been truthful with the people of Gerar, he could have saved himself some embarrassment.

And here is our first lesson about living the truth before our skeptical and unbelieving age: Don’t allow fear of men to prevent you from being who you are.

We need to be ourselves as children of the living God and followers of Jesus. In Jesus Christ we are new creations. We are citizens and ambassadors of a new Kingdom. We have a new mind, a new outlook on life, new affections and priorities, and a new worldview which we are daily striving to learn and to live. We must not hide our testimony, compromise our convictions, or try to conform our behavior to what we think might keep us in good standing with our unbelieving neighbors. We are new creations, and every day Jesus is making us newer and newer in Him. Why would we want to deceive our neighbors about who we are by trying to be less ourselves and more like them? We need to be ourselves – nothing to hide, no one to fear.

If we try, out of fear or self-interest, to conceal our true identities, sooner or later God will out us, and then we’ll be embarrassed and explaining ourselves all over the place, confirming to every unbeliever who knows us just how shallow, disingenuous, and duplicitous Christians are. We must know who we are, know what we’re called to, know what each day requires, and know that nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8.38, 39).

We are created in Christ Jesus as new creatures, for good works and Spirit-filled witness to a desperate world. Make up your mind that you’re going to be what God expects you to be, and not what you think your unbelieving neighbors might be willing to accept. Like Isaac, having a laugh with his dear wife, we need to be ourselves – joyous followers of Jesus Christ – if we’re going to persuade our unbelieving age to consider the claims of the Gospel.

Be yourself: This is the first principle for living the truth in an age of unbelief.

For reflection
1. Why do we sometimes fear people more than God? How does fearing people betray who we really are?

2. What can you do each day to remind yourself of who you are, so that you can be you as you head out into your day?

3. Believers need to encourage one another to be who we are. Whom will you encourage today?

Next steps – Preparation: How can you use your prayer time to prepare for being who you are in Jesus today?

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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