John Dickson continues his practical and sensible discussion of the various ways Christians are to be involved in ‘promoting the gospel’ with a focus on two texts – each talking of the responsibility Christians have to explain their faith.
‘give the reason for the hope you have’ [1 Peter 3:13-16].
‘let your conversation be seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone’ [Colossians 4:2-6]
These are the two clearest NT texts urging Christians to explain their faith. Dickson’s discussion highlights these points:
– ALL believers have a responsibility to answer for the faith
– Just as Paul says he ‘ought’ to proclaim the gospel clearly, so ordinary believers ‘ought’ to be involved in everyday mission by explaining the gospel as opportunity allows.
– Sometimes this will be taking the initiative to turn conversation naturally towards spiritual issues.
– Other times it will be more apologetic [Paul’s words have this sense] – to explain and defend what Christians believe in the face of misunderstanding or hostility.
– Peter’s words explicitly link the Lordship of Jesus to not being fearful. [Linking back to the last post on Michael Bird’s book, there is another Christological grenade here in how Isaiah 8:12-13 talking of Yahweh is fulfilled in Jesus as Lord (1 Peter 3:14-15)].
– Dickson makes good points here. Often Christians fear evangelism. Fear of being labelled a fundamentalist. Fear of being seen as arrogant. Fear of rejection. Fear of messing up. Fear of not knowing what to say. Fear of being seen as weird. Rather, Dickson says, let’s trust in the Lord and allow our faith simply to be natural part of who we are, whoever we are with.
– Christians’ replies are to be seasoned with salt – wisdom and grace. They are to BE good news as well as talking Good News. As Dickson puts it, Christians are to have ‘Lives worth questioning’ Simply winning points is self-defeating if it is not done with gentleness and respect.
[And linking back to the last post on the Christian Right – what does a mission focused on attacking enemies, concerned with winning power and conceived so enforce our values on others say about the nature of our ‘gospel’?]
Dickson puts it this way
The life out of which we are to speak is not simply a moralistic life. It is a life of humility, compassion, nonretaliation and so on: in other words, a life of love.
Being personal here, I remember turning to faith in Jesus as a teenager, primarily after being impacted by the life and words of a Christian friend.
If you are a Christian, what were the key factors in your coming to faith? Is Dickson right to say that many Christians are fearful or too coy to say what they believe?