By Pastor Rob Bloss
Without even so much as tripping over a Bible, I would wager that the average person could tick off a litany of issues and actions they are sure Jesus opposes. The assessment may be inaccurate, but as I observe our culture, including the Church, it seems people have an easier time making the lists of what “religious people and institutions” stand against rather than for.
Is it like that for you? Is it easier to define yourself by what you are against, or what has a negative impression or influence on your life, rather than by what you stand for?
Peter Marshall said that “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Training in identifying counterfeit currency begins with studying genuine money. Isn’t that also true of our faith? Isn’t the quickest way to know our faith is real is to know what real faith is, rather than what it isn’t?
This is why one of the things that drew me to Covenant was the intentional approach to standing on and living out a core set of values and beliefs. We’re not in competition with other churches or comparing ourselves to other belief systems. We’re not reacting to something or standing against something. We’re seeking and learning how to live for something. That something is Jesus Christ!
I’m saying that our best defense or stance against culture or sin in general is to focus on what we are for. It is simply keeping first things first. Jesus, and nothing else, must be our “main thing”. Our main emphasis must always be on the person and work of Christ. Even the Apostle Paul decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
The closer we draw to Jesus, the more we are molded into His likeness, the less culture will be afforded space in our heads and hearts to impair or impede our relationship with Him.
In the 24 hours surrounding Jesus’ execution, Judas, one of His disciples, betrayed Him, Peter denied even knowing Him. The religious elite were determined to find a reason to kill Him. The Romans carried out the execution and those who passed by mocked Him. But in that moment, Jesus showed humanity what it means to be for something. He had a hill that He believed was worth dying on!
For those who see Christians as intolerant, as people who stand against so much,
here’s what I suggest:
- Let’s focus on what we stand for, not what we stand against.
- Let’s focus on what we have in common, not our differences.
- Let’s focus on what we can agree on, not our disagreements.
- Let’s focus on the real enemy, not one another.
This is not to say we roll over on doctrinal beliefs or moral issues. Notice that I wrote, “Let’s FOCUS on” what we have in common and can agree on. “Let’s FOCUS on” what we stand FOR, not what we stand against. When we FOCUS on something, that gets most of our attention, but it does not mean we ignore everything else.
We can’t turn a blind eye to those things that fly in the face of the absolutes of the Christian faith. We are “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth” I Tim. 3:15 God exhorts us to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” Eph. 6:14.
Know what you stand FOR and then stand for it in ways that respect others as God’s Word clearly instructs us.
- Speak the truth in love. Eph. 4:15
- Always pursue peace not the need to be right. Eph. 4:3, James 3:17, I Peter 3:8-12
- Be ready to defend & give an account of what you believe to anyone who asks, yet with gentleness and respect. I Peter 3:15
- Correct an erring sister or brother with gentleness and respect. Gal. 6:1-5
- Be kind, as the Lord’s servant, not quarrelsome. 2 Tim. 2:24
- Show care for one another rather than divide. I Cor. 12:26
What if instead of avoiding culture and labeling people we focused on drawing closer to Jesus? What if we focused on lifting high the cross of Christ and trusting Him to draw people to Himself? What if people knew us, and through us knew Jesus, based primarily on what we stood for rather than against? What if those around us knew we were Christians by our love?!