I was sitting outside in my garden a week or so ago taking on Weed-fest 2014, when I saw it, a car filled with two couples, dressed to the nines. They got out, separated, and headed toward two homes directly across the street from my own. From the moment they stepped out of their car, I was fairly certain I knew why they had come, and I remembered this section from Peter.
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:14-16
Always be prepared to give an answer, to make a defense.
But, wait a minute. I don’t actually have to be prepared to give my answer. American religion says any answer will do. We are each welcome and encouraged to worship a god in whatever form we feel him/her/it/them to be. It makes no difference whatsoever what my neighbor believes to be true. It makes no difference what I believe to be true. We are both right.
Can’t we all just get along?
The answer is yes…and no.
I’ve seen the stickers and I understand the meaning of the movement. It speaks out for peace in the midst of a chaotic society. It speaks tolerance in the midst of hatred. I do get it. It cheers for religious freedom, and I do love religious freedom. Without it, the likelihood that I would have even heard the name of Jesus is next to non-existent. I love the diversity with which God has masterfully created each one of us, body, mind, and soul. We are remarkable. I just think, no, I know, that if I truly believe, TRULY BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, I should daily grieve that you do not. If I know that by believing this we all might have life in His name, I should talk till I’m proverbially blue in the face, till I know that you know it too. I should lose sleep over the thought that my neighbor may not be with me in eternity. I should hate whatever has kept you from the truth. I don’t want to just coexist. I want to love you and I want you to know of a greater love from a God, THE God, the one and only Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who doesn’t screw that love up, ever, even though His people often do.
I want to coexist, but I want to do it with you in eternity, through the blood of Christ which was shed for all humanity. Believe it. There is no other way.