Show, don’t tell

Your children badly need to see your faith making your life unpleasant.

You see, real things make demands upon us. A puppy is not the same as a stuffed animal, and even a little child can feel the difference when a play date is cut short to go home and take Fido out for a walk. When my wife was a little girl she had a paper cutout “husband” with whom she played at times, and then at other times she would pack him away in a drawer. That’s not an option with her real husband–I may need to talk, or need dinner, or need a hug, even when she’s tired and out of sorts. Even something as basic as gravity tells us it’s there by restricting what we can do. Real things disrupt your life.

In some parts of the world, Christian children hear their parents telling them God is real by hand-writing copies of the one village Bible, or gathering in hidden rooms to worship, or being carted off to prison or death because they will not deny their Lord. In America, we tell our children God is real by having an Easter egg hunt.

Keep reading…

‘The way is narrow’: Thinking about exclusivism

When sharing the gospel, Christians are guided by Jesus’ words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). It doesn’t matter if you’re a good person; it doesn’t matter if you follow the Quran better than I’ve ever followed the Bible; it doesn’t matter if you are a devout Hindu or Buddhist or Jew: the only way to be saved is through belief in Jesus Christ. When Jesus said “the way is narrow that leads to life,” He was putting into words what most of us have felt at one time or another when witnessing.

For anyone who has really challenged an unbeliever with the truth that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), it’s hard not to feel intolerant, especially in a culture where “religious exclusivist” is an epithet practically on level with “racist.” Worse, it’s hard not to feel that God Himself might be a little–dare we say it?–closed-minded. If He wants to save people, why be so restrictive? Why not throw open the gates all the way?

Keep reading…

So you’re talking to your gay friend

One of the things I love about teaching is the opportunity for unexpected conversations. Earlier this week, my apologetics class ended up taking a lengthy detour to discuss biblical teachings about homosexuality. Such classroom digressions are hardly unusual, but this one stuck with me afterward because the conversation vividly illustrated a tension and a struggle which I’ve felt myself when I get the opportunity to witness to a homosexual. My students believe the Bible. They recognize the reality of sin and the need for a savior. And they really, really don’t want to have to tell the nice gay guy with the friendly smile that he’s not allowed to pursue true love. I don’t want to either.

It really doesn’t matter whether you are born gay or choose to be gay, or a little of both. The fact is, right now, I’m talking to someone who is gay. And maybe he’s in love with another fellow, and feeling all the butterflies I remember from when I first looked at my wife and hoped I’d never have to stop. Or maybe he’s just hoping, waiting to find the right one. I remember that feeling too, and how the anticipation was almost fun at times, and terribly hard at others; but always the encouragement that maybe today would be the day I’d meet her. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to want another man, but I know very well what it’s like to want Someone–and that’s exactly who I’m telling my gay friend is off limits, forever.

Keep reading…