Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm Not Sorry

Christian apologetics. That might sound a little odd to some people. Many Christians I know joke around that it's the idea that Christians should be apologizing for their faith. I know plenty of people that wish we would do just that, and then just shut up once and for all about all that "Jesus stuff", morality, propriety, forgiveness, humility, obedience and all that other annoying stuff Christians go around talking about.

In reality, Christian apologetics is the ability to be able to give a defense or reasonable explaination of your faith to anyone who asks. It comes from 1Peter 3:15 which says:

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence

The phrase "make a defense" in the original Greek language is the word apologia, and where we get the word apologetics. Apologia originally meant being able to give a reasonable argument for something that was true. Over time the word apologize came to mean giving an answer for something that was wrong. It's interesting how language evolves the way it does sometimes.

Going back to the idea that Christians sometimes joke about, that apologetics means to go around apologizing (modern meaning, i.e. "I'm sorry that I'm wrong") for your Christian worldview, I think we all know we're living in a society that really wishes that we'd do this. Sadly, there are some Christians that give in to that pressure to not rock the boat at work, school, or even in their very own families so they keep quiet about their faith and just keep it to themselves. Granted there are at times, delicate and very sensitive situations where it's for the best that you remain silent, but when you call yourself a Christian you're declaring that you have been changed by the grace of God and follow Christ. If that is who you are, then you should never be ashamed of His name, and should always be ready to engage in Christian apologetics, no matter where you are or where the opportunity arises. Bearing in mind the verse above says we're to do that with gentleness and reverence. How we give the answer for the faith we have is just as important as giving the answer itself. This is something I think a lot of Christians miss the boat on big time (myself included at times, no question about it) in sharing their faith with others.

Gentleness meaning in a calm and gentle way toward the person who is questioning (the gospel of Christ is already offensive to a sinners ears, we are not called to be offensive as well in our delivery of it), and reverence meaning you give that answer with the intention of glorifying God with all that you say and the way that you say it due to the importance of the subject itself, and with an ever-conscious sense of the presence of God. The verse begins with "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts" and when that is done, when His example of grace, mercy, compassion, gentleness and forgiveness is the pattern you're setting your own life after then the rest of that instruction falls much easier into place.

With that said, I want to say this: I'm NOT sorry.

I'm not sorry that the same God who spoke the earth into existance chose in His infinite wisdom and mercy to draw me to Christ by the preaching of the gospel. The preaching of the cross is absolute nonsense to the lost... until He opens your eyes. One day I hated hearing "Christian junk" and the next it was like a balm to my despicable heart. That is the power, the sovereignty, the majesty and the work of God, pure and simple. I didn't wake up one day and chose to believe anything different, He opened my eyes and showed me the truth.

I'm not sorry that I grew up in a generation where going to church on Sunday was what most American families did, even if they weren't Christians. This exposed me to the gospel that was a planted seed in my life for many years only to be watered and nutured many many years later.

I'm not sorry that the Sunday school teachers taught the silly stories had their classes memories verses. Those stories and those verses were anchors in my life even when I didn't know I remembered them. They still are.

I'm not sorry my brother took me to a Christian bookstore and bought for me my very first Bible. Even while living as a complete heathen, reading Proverbs each night both comforted my mind and convicted my soul. I needed both. I still do.

I'm not sorry my heart was broken and that I saw my true need for salvation through Christ alone, on that spring evening in 1994. Once my eyes were opened to my true sinful state, all I wanted was Christ's forgiveness like a thirsty man in the desert wants a cool drink of water.

I'm not sorry I've been a member/attender of several different fellowships over the years. While none were perfect, each was a genuine gathering of the saints and I learned a great deal from them all.

I'm not sorry I go to church every Sunday (weather and other things permitting). I love my church, I need my church, and without it my growth in Christ would stagnate and wither and I might begin to be decieved into think I'm a Spirtitual Lone Ranger and do not need that constant fellowship or accountability. The longer I am a Christian the more I see my need for this very thing. He designed us to be social beings and we can pretend that's not true all day long but the fact remains we do need one other.

I'm not sorry I've raised my kids (since 1994) in the faith of Christ. I know it to be true, and to do any less would be to cause untold damage to their souls. What the Holy Spirit does with the truths they've heard over the years is between Him and them. I only pray He does the same with them that He did with me, and eventually they might all be drawn to the foot of the cross and see their own need for reconciliation with God through Christ.

I'm not sorry I pray this way for my entire family. Some of them have already entered eternity and some of them did it without knowing God's mercy. I don't like to think about that but it's the truth all the same. Some of them entered eternity at peace with God and trusting in Christ's atonement on the cross for them, and I look forward to seeing them there. I want to see them all there.

I'm not sorry the Holy Spirit continues each and every day to convict my heart of my own sin. I know what a rotten person I am, and I know I need this conviction and this guidance to have the right thoughts, right attitudes and right speech. Without it I would be just as self-centered and self-serving as the next person walking through this life rejecting God's wisdom. Sometimes I am still like that, which tells me I need this conviction all the more.

I'm not sorry I blog about the things of God. If just one person ever read anything I've ever written and it causes them to either fall to their knees in repentance or draw closer to our Lord through prayer or meditation or service, then this blog has been used for His glory and I am content with that.

I'm not sorry I'm a Christian. I am humbled beyond words for the grace of God in my life. I can look back over the 45 years I've been alive and see His hand at work so many times, that it is without question in my mind that He has orchestrated events, spared my very life (several times) and been an active presence in my life all along. I don't know why He chose to do this for me, but I know He didn't have to. I love Him for it and I am not ashamed to proclaim His name.

I know that annoys certain people, and there is nothing I can do about that. I know Christians sometimes do and say really stupid things (myself included) and that is often used to say "see, Christians are so fake, they preach all this holiness stuff then do this or that just like anyone else". Those people want us to shut up, go away and stop being who we are because it annoys them. Being a Christian doesn't mean you're floating around on a cloud with angelic choruses of alleluias surrounding you wherever you go. It means (in part) you're a person who still says and does stupid things, but you're trusting in God's grace to help you do it less as time goes by.

No, I'm not sorry I'm a Christian and I'm not sorry I live and speak and write and think like one. This is who I am, by God's grace alone. If I live another 50 years or another 5 minutes, I will continue to live and speak and think and write the way I do now, because this is who I am. To do any other I would be a fraud and the shame would be on me.

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