Summary: Why is it that Christians who are so eager to tell non-Christians “Merry Christmas” are generally unenthusiastic about sharing their faith with others?
Series Title: The Line in the Sand
Message Title: The Chalk Line
Scripture: Romans 1:16
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Why is it that Christians who are so eager to tell non-Christians “Merry Christmas” are generally unenthusiastic about sharing their faith with others? Let’s begin with a self-imposed character flaw that many good Christian people have that is probably at the root of the problem, and that flaw is cowardice.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines cowardice as a lack of courage to face danger.
First, let me just say that many times people mistakenly confuse the word cowardice with meekness.
Jesus did say…
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
And, Jesus said…
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Jesus is not advocating a spineless doctrine. He’s advocating a meek, humble and patient attitude in dealing with others.
There are numerous cases in scripture where Jesus stood up for His beliefs. As an example, He drove out the vendors and money changers from the temple area (Matt. 21:12; John 2:15). He didn’t sit by the side and wait for a committee to be formed that would address the problem of sheep and cattle in the temple courtyards. He formed a committee of one and took care of the problem. Jesus was meek and had a passion for the Lord, but He was not a coward.
Paul did say…
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
And, Paul said…
1 Corinthians 5:13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
There are numerous cases in scripture where Paul adamantly stood up for His beliefs. Like you, Paul knew what was right and what was wrong through discernment. He knew through the Holy Spirit which causes he was to stand behind. He knew through the Holy Spirit when he needed to take a firm position and not run away, but he also knew when he needed to sit meekly and patiently on the sidelines and let other Christians take the reigns. Paul knew the difference between meekness and cowardice.
We see lot’s of examples of fear, cowardice, and bravery in the Bible. When you read 1st and 2nd Peter you see a resolute strength expressed in words that is tempered with meekness.
Peter said meekly…
2 Peter 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
And, Peter said with power…
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
Yet, this is the same Peter who ashamedly (not meekly) hid in the shadows and followed Jesus’ arrest from a distance (Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27). He later came into the courtyard of the house where Jesus was being held, and, when asked, strongly denied that he knew the Savior. Instead, he went over and joined the Roman soldiers warming themselves at a fire. Let this be a lesson to us, we need to take care where and with whose fire we warm ourselves!
Peter was noticed and identified as being from the company and association of Jesus Christ, yet he became ashamed…he became a coward.
When we lay this under scrutiny, when we lay this under the microscope, we see that there is in the heart of sinful man a carnal tendency to be ashamed of that which is good and true, of that which is pure and beautiful. Quite the contrary to espousing the good and true there is a tendency to mock and make fun of that which is decent and right.
In this modern day and age, men and women, both young and old, who have reserved themselves until after they are married, or who are content with remaining unmarried and pure, are made fun of by the world. They’re ridiculed in the media, especially on TV and in the movies. They’re seen as prudish, old-fashioned, ugly and even stupid, rather than as a person that is firmly holding themselves to a higher moral standard. The ridicule, contempt, and disrespect expressed to these thoughtful people is so intense that many are made to feel ashamed of their high moral standards. Again, we succumb to their name-calling and false accusations and follow the ways of the world. We become ashamed of that which is good and true, of that which is pure and beautiful. Rather than calling upon the strength and power of the Lord, we allow our ashamedness to reach a saturation level, and we give in to the immoral pressures and practices of the world. We rationalize our behavior by telling ourselves that it is easier to live in a world where we are accepted outwardly, while experiencing the small pain of the Lord’s conviction.