Have you ever asked: “What is the right thing to do in this situation?” Or, “What is the loving thing to do in this situation?” Have you ever wondered, “Does God have a reason for this?” or, “Did God plan this meeting?” or, “Am I allowing something that should be resisted?” or what about, “Am I resisting something that should be encouraged?” Even simpler than that, have you ever wondered, “Should I send this email?” or, “Should I post that on Facebook?”
These questions are all very reasonable as we strive to be good people. But what if its bigger than that?
To me, Christianity is not what we do for an hour on Sunday, it’s the context of all that we do and don’t do. It’s hope. It’s Truth with a capital “T.” It’s the language of love. And it answers all of our questions, whether we like the answers or not. For example, when you ask if you should send that email, Christianity would compel you to ask, “Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”
To me, real Christianity is hard. First, it requires a lot of the individual in relation to him or herself. To admit that what we’re doing isn’t working and to look to God for answers takes integrity. To confess our regret for what we have done, to be honest and vulnerable in heartfelt repentance, takes guts. To look to God with tears, when you’ve reached the end of yourself, and to admit your sins, your failures, your fears, and your hopes is very real and for some, too real. To trust Christ with your past as you look to the future, to take that deep cleansing breath as you shrug off the load you have been carrying in the belief that He will help you carry it takes real faith. And all of this happens before we even leave our houses and engage the world around us. Seriously, if you want to do it right, and there is only one way to do it right, you have to put on your big-boy pants. Real Christianity takes courage.
Not only do we need Jesus Christ in our own lives, to help us come to terms with our past so that we can live in the future, but the world needs Jesus as well. Have you looked around lately? This world is lost!
With all my heart, I believe that this world needs Christianity to light the darkness, to guide and to comfort, to warm the cold, and to give meaning to what is otherwise a very difficult existence on this earth. Could you imagine life without Christ? If He lifted you up, and dusted you off so that you now have hope and a sense of purpose, don’t you want to share Him with those who are where you were not too long ago?
As you can probably tell, I think a lot about the intersection of our faith and the world. In his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy,” A.W. Tozer said, “True religion confronts earth with heaven and brings eternity to bear on time.” That’s what I mean by “the intersection of our faith and the world.” I mean the place where we, as Christians – people striving to be genuine followers of Christ and His Word as written in the Bible – meet the world; on the road, at the store, at work, in school, on the sports field as an athlete, in the stands as a spectator, as a doctor or the patient, as a teacher or the student, in person, by phone, by text, or on social media, when you have the answers and when you don’t.
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This intersection is a seriously messy place. I think it’s so messy because Christians are spiritual beings who live in the flesh. Our home is in heaven, and we are aliens here on earth. We value what is unseen over what is seen. Each day, we live with the pull of those dualities. If we’re not careful, if we aren’t aware and resolved at this intersection, we can end up renouncing our eternal, heavenly citizenship for temporary earthly comfort.
At the same time, for Christians, this intersection is an amazing place with incredible potential. Think of it. In all these engagements, millions of times each day, lessons can be learned, insults can be forgiven, people can be comforted and confronted, and eyes and hearts can be opened to the beauty of life transformed by the love of Christ.
As a Marine who looks at faith through the lens of spiritual warfare, I admit, my experience in combat might give me a totally different perspective of this intersection. I see it as a hard and dangerous place, and like all battlefields, as the only place that really matters. Believe me, when you’re in a fight, you’re not thinking about anything other than that fight. It’s life and death and for me, so is this intersection. The Bible says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)
At the intersection of our faith and the secular world, someone will be changed. The stakes are life and death. Either we will shine light which the Holy Spirit will use to begin a transformation for abundant life, or we will be changed by the world to be more like the world, which only offers death. As I said, it’s a dangerous place.
Despite the risk, I see this intersection as an amazing place of beautiful opportunity. Through Christians, the world meets God. Other than to gaze into the face of God, could anything be more awe-inspiring? You and I get to be a part of that!
And that’s why awareness, preparation, and resolve are so critical. Who we are will determine whether this intersection is a good meeting and a positive experience which leads to heavenly transformation or a missed opportunity which causes someone to say, “If this guy is a Christian, then I want no part of Christ.” This opportunity rests on our perspective of our faith, on our preparation for these meetings, and on the choices that we make.
Courageous Christianity is about these choices and millions more, made with intention each day on a spiritual battlefield, according to God’s Truth and the Bible. It’s about showing our forgiving, righteous, and loving God to a struggling world in hopes of leading them to Jesus and the peace that can only be found in Him. It’s about living in and speaking truth to a world that would rather hear lies. And there’s nothing I would rather do.
Here are three critical points about courageous Christianity. First, we can’t serve two masters. It’s either the world or Jesus. James 4:4 goes so far as to say, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” The more of the world that we push out of our lives, the more we make room for Jesus. We live on a spiritual battlefield. The enemy has a plan to rob us of our godly potential and we must have a plan to hold onto it and to bring it to bear on the world around us. That plan is first and foremost, to seek God’s truth as stated in the Bible, to live it, and to speak it. To do this, we must read it, study it, memorize verses from it, allow it to shape all our perspectives. It will answer all our questions. Thirdly, “fighting” on the spiritual battlefield is defensive and offensive in nature.
Defending our relationship with God comes first because everything we can do comes from that. A good guide in this effort is to practice the spiritual disciplines of bible reading, bible study, bible memorization, prayer, generosity, fellowship, fasting, silence, simplicity, and celebration. We must also expect hardship. Satan will not give up ground easily. He will attack and counterattack. Neither will the world love us for shining light into the darkness which hides their evil deeds. So, we must be resolved and prepared. Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
As we gain spiritual strength, we can conduct more and more offensive operations in the world. Our faith compels this because if we love God, when we see people struggling, it must hurt us. If His children are in turmoil, as His children, our brothers and sisters are in turmoil. (John 1: 12) The Bible tells us how Jesus felt about it; “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
It’s with that perspective, in that heart, that we can strive to bring our faith to bear on the people around us; first by living it with integrity and when the opportunity presents itself, by talking about it, knowing that as courageous Christians, we can be those shepherds.
Courageous Christianity answers all the difficult questions life poses. It’s easy to go to church on Sunday and to think of ourselves as Christians, but we have been entrusted with so much more than that. Good people are struggling. And they’re watching what we, as Christians, do. We must do more than call ourselves Christians, we must be Christians under difficult circumstances.
Finally, and importantly, courageous Christianity is not about religion. Beneath it all is love. Real love. Selfless love which wants the best for others. With resolve, integrity, faith, and trust, courageous Christianity is love which seeks the truth of God to engage and prepare people for the very real conflict between heaven and the world in hopes that they too may have eternal and abundant life.
And that’s Courageous Christianity.
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Colonel Richard Mendelow (Ret) is the host of “Courageous Christianity with Richard Mendelow,” a radio show on 100.7 FM in Houston, Texas, live streamed at KKHT.com, and podcasted on any podcast app. When he’s not flying Boeing 777s for a major airline, he leads the Courageous Christianity Ministry which equips Christian warriors for the spiritual battlefield; helping men stand firm at the intersection of their faith and the secular world.