The responsibility that Christians have to stake out a claim for the cause of Christ in today’s culture is critical. We are witnessing a moment in history when Christianity—that was once respected, then tolerated—is now under suspicion and even attacked.
Important biblical issues have split the populace of values of life and love, on one side, and values of justice and compassion, on the other. In his latest book, Impossible People, Oz Guinness describes it like this:
“It is surely undeniable that only rarely in Christian history has the lordship of Jesus in the West been treated as more pliable or has Christian revisionism been more brazen, Christian interpretations of the Bible more self-serving, Christian preaching more soft, Christian behavior more lax, Christian compromise more common, Christian defections from the faith more casual, and Christian rationales for such slippage more spurious and shameless.”
If you’re like me, you’re finding yourself wrestling today—trying to develop biblical conviction and courage while continuing to demonstrate biblical compassion.
Our Lord also lived during tumultuous times. He was courageous to stand convicted, never compromising truth, but incredibly compassionate toward those who just didn’t yet understand. His life teaches us to do the same—to have the courage to take a stand with the conviction of Scriptures, and the courage to develop a heart of compassion.
In Acts 17 we find Paul, in Athens, provoked in his spirit as he watches the city and its culture under idols. Like Christ, he remained true to Scripture and ever available to be used by God in whatever way God might choose to use him in that culture.
I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scriptures, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God.
At the Diet, or church council, of Worms, Martin Luther was called to give an account of his faith. Willing to debate and ready to proclaim the truth, he stood before the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire along with representatives of the Pope. Refusing to hear anything, the leaders asked Luther to recant. Luther gave this response:
“Unless I am convicted by Scriptures and plain reason—I do not accept the authority of Popes and Councils, for they have contradicted each other. I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scriptures, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot, and I will not, recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.”
Like Christ and the spiritual giants who came before us, we need biblical courage to stand and hold on to biblical conviction and not bow. We need to stay compassionate and not harden our hearts. Let’s commit ourselves to be a faithful generation of Christians who have the willingness to engage a conflicted culture with the proclamation of God’s grace and biblical truth in spite of the range of responses that we will see.