Declare and Defend (4)
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.1 Peter 3.15, 16
Making our case
In our generation most Christians seem to believe that, if a case is to be made for the Kingdom of God and the Christian worldview, the task falls to others more qualified than they.
Declaring and defending the Kingdom, most Christians seem to think, is the work of theologians, apologists, writers, teachers, and, of course, preachers. You need special training for this work and a call from the Lord. And that excludes most of us.
Certainly, all these servants have a role in making the case for the glorious Good News that the Kingdom of God has come. But it would be a mistake to believe that such people are the only, or even the most important means for making our case for the Christian worldview.
All believers, all who have received the Spirit of God, are empowered and sent like Jesus to bear witness to Him and His eternal reign (Acts 1.8; Jn. 20.21). The first Christians were so exuberantly committed to Jesus and their calling to be His witnesses, that not even threats or persecution could keep them from declaring and defending the Good News (cf. Acts 8.1-4).
Why are we in this generation reluctant to take up this glorious work?
Trapped in a spiral of silence
Three primary means are available to us, by which we may declare and defend the Gospel and work to persuade others of the truth that is in Jesus. These are conversation, publication, and participation. And each of these is within the reach of every believer in one form or another. Thus, every believer needs prayerfully to consider how to make the most of every opportunity for fulfilling our witness, beginning with everyday conversations (Eph. 5.15-17).
The worldviews by which people live are nurtured and lived out in everyday relationships, beginning in homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces. What parents teach their children – priorities, beliefs, and values – will have long-term implications for what they believe and how they live.
Additionally, what we talk about with one another, as we go about our everyday tasks and conduct our relationships, shapes what we believe and how we live.
German sociologist Elizabeth Noëlle-Neumann has pointed out that those who are the most outspoken regarding their views and beliefs are likely to carry the day in democratic societies such as ours. The more people talk about their beliefs and their worldview, the more confident they become in making their case, and the more frequently and fervently they will share their views (The Spiral of Silence). As these outspoken champions wax on about their beliefs, a “spiral of silence” begins to engulf those who believe otherwise. In the face of such enthusiastic witness-bearing, others tend to lay low. No one wants to be thought of as holding to a “minority position” on anything; so, rather than speak up in the face of many who are doing so, most will remain silent, even though they disagree with those views.
This is where the Christian community finds itself today, snared in a spiral of silence before blustering but empty wrong-believing worldviews. The world is so outspoken about its views, and they come at us from so many angles and with such compelling force, that we just clam up, draw in, and don’t dare proffer a contrary view. The silence to which we retreat soon becomes a comfort zone against a loud and lying world, as we leave our witness at church and forfeit the truth of God to the lies of Satan and the world.
Men and brethren, these things ought not be! It is very important that believers in Jesus Christ make the best use of every opportunity to talk about what is good and pleasing to God. And we can do this, because the power of the Spirit will engage us as we do, giving us just what we need to say (Lk. 12.11, 12). We must learn to think through the vast implications of the Kingdom of God, that we may live every aspect of our lives as citizens of the Kingdom which is our true home. We must be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us.
Taking our place in the conversation
If believers will not engage daily conversation as witnesses for Jesus – in our homes, places of employment, among our friends, with our neighbors, and with fellow believers – we can expect the media, pop culture, and special interest groups to frame the worldviews by which the rest of us will live. The spirit of the times, rather than the Spirit of God, will shape the environment and culture in which we live, and wrong-belief will continue to deceive and destroy many.
But imagine a world of scores of millions of people, deeply conversant with the Word of God, steeped in the experience of His Kingdom, eager to discuss and able to defend our views at every opportunity, and seeking – like Jesus – those lost people God puts in our path, that some of them might be saved (Lk. 19.10). There is more power for making our case in everyday conversations than we have yet begun to wield!
Let us work together to break the spiral of silence, live out our Kingdom calling, and make the case for a Christian worldview. God will provide the opportunities for talking with our children, neighbors, friends, and co-workers, but we must be ready to boast about Jesus and the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
For reflection or discussion
1. Have you mapped out your Personal Mission Field? This is the arena to which Jesus sends you each day and where opportunities for breaking the spiral of silence abound. Watch this brief video, download the worksheet, and get started being a more effective witness today.
2. What keeps us from being more outspoken about the Gospel? How can you overcome these obstacles?
3. How should you pray about the challenge of being a witness for Christ?
Next steps – Conversation: Here’s a conversation starter to use in engaging the people in your Personal Mission Field this week. Try it out with two or three folks, including some of your Christian friends: “If I had some really good news to share with you, do you think you’d be willing to hear it?”
T. M. Moore
You can download this and all the studies in this series, “Let God Be True,” by clicking here. For a series of discussions on improving your conversational skills, begin here in our Personal Mission Field Workshop to learn the art of Christian conversation.
A companion book to this study, Understanding the Times, is available at our bookstore. Learn more about this book and order a free copy by clicking here. Our booklet, The Gospel of the Kingdom, can help ready you to proclaim the Good News. Order your free copy by clicking here.
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