Sometimes I tend to get frustrated with myself in that I’m quiet when I should speak and I speak when I should be quiet. I’ve often wondered why and I realized the two things which keeps me from the proper response the most often are fear and insecurity.
It is strange that there is such a common misconception which makes standing for what you believe in appear too difficult to even try. We are often-times too afraid to disagree, to contradict, to face rejection, to work hard. I just wonder sometimes why we feel like we need to treat the Gospel, morality, ethics, and whatever else as topics to be brushed under the rug when we’re around people we don’t want to disagree with. We have no problem talking to our Christian friend about the topics, but when we’re around strangers, or professors, or friends that believe differently than we do, suddenly we try to avoid the topic because we’re scared it will be too difficult. We let our fear keep us silent and hinder us from reaching out to people.
I think back to a conversation I had with a good friend inside a local Monument coffee shop. He asked me what made me so different, why I was telling him what he needed to hear, why I tried so hard to live like Jesus. He told me he had never met anyone that lived the way I do. Despite the encouragement of those words, I still felt overwhelming heart-break. This is a guy who grew up in a Christian household, had Christian friends, and had fallen away. I was astounded to hear him say that he had never seen true Christians.
It really is nothing exceptional about me that made him say such things. God may have been at work in and through me, but I am sure that I am not the only Christian around that has God working in his life. I know plenty of people like me. There are plenty of people around me that believe what I believe, think the way I think, and live the way I live. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t seeing it. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the problem: silence.
The reason I think he was so surprised to see a genuine Christian is not that we’re extraordinarily rare, it’s that we’re extraordinarily quiet. Quite frankly, if God hadn’t obviously placed me in that situation to talk to that guy, I highly doubt I would have made an effort to speak out and show him Who Jesus is. Christians are there, I know a good deal of them. But I think one of the reasons people like my friend don’t know that real Christians still exist is that we’re silent. My friend had so many negative sterio types of what Christians are because the true Christians hadn’t reached out to him and shown him what Christianity really is and refuted the sterio types with their lives.
It seems we’re too intimidated to speak. Now, I don’t mean we need to go door to door and ram theology down people’s throats. That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying is that maybe it’s time we get out of our comfortable Christian bubble, make ourselves vulnerable, and show people that we exist, that we are not ashamed of who we are, and that we are not afraid to talk to them. To be completely honest, I think we feel frightened by certain types of people, so we just avoid too much communication with them. Sometimes speaking out looks like helping out at homeless shelters, or witnessing to strangers, but sometimes it’s as simple as meeting with a friend in a coffee shop, asking the professor a question in class, resolving conflicts, or being willing to really listen to some one’s problems and address them.
Truly, showing who we are is not that difficult. When we swollow our fear and actually reach out to some one, a lot of times we find out that the most difficult part was the fear of difficulty. God has placed me in positions to talk with atheists, agnostics, Taoists, homosexuals, Buddhists, New Agers, relativists, existentialists, etc, etc, etc. You know something I have learned from talking with them? They are people. They are not just some problem that will go away if I ignore them, they are not arguments to be won, they are not numbers to try to add to our church. They are people and they need to be addressed and loved as such. If we do not treat them like people, and love them as beings created in God’s image, and actually try and get to know them, and to show them the Gospel by serving them; then, regardless of how much shouting we do, we are silent.
It boils down to this: people have misconceptions of Christianity because they don’t know any true Christians, they don’t know true Christians because we don’t reach out to them, we don’t reach out to them because we are frightened and insecure. Quite simply, we need to kill our fear, find our identity in Christ, and live.
Do not be afraid to disagree with people, do not be afraid to be rejected by them, do not be afraid to love them. Conflict and love are found together far more often than we realize. Do not be afraid to love people enough to tell them that they are wrong. But always be sure to love the person and not the argument.
The more we act on what we believe and the more we read Scripture and carry it out, the more we realize who we are and the less insecure we become. I think one of the reasons that Christians have a bad name in the Western world is because people don’t know who we really are. Quite frankly, they don’t know who we are because we don’t know who we are. James 1:23-24: “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” We need to hear the Word and do it so that we can remember who we are. We are to be “little Christs” and when we don’t live that way, we are living in silence and insecurity.
I’m not sure if this blog made sense to you, but I hope it did. Really all I want to say is this: live life loud. We need to speak, we need to show people who we are. We need to speak with our words, but also with our lives. We only have so much time given to us, use it well. I’m sure you’ve all heard this cliche, but very true quote from Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel every day. If necessary, use words.”