Thursday, May 9, 2013

Defending Your Faith

Several years ago, the movie Taken was an unexpected hit.  In the film, a teenaged girl is kidnapped while traveling in Europe.  Fortunately, her father (played by Liam Neeson) is an ex-CIA operative who has "a special set of skills" that make rescuing his daughter possible.  I think the movie's success is in part due to the fact that many men (who often drive movie-going decisions) feel a tremendous responsibility to protect their loved ones.  As we watch Brian, the father, kill seemingly half of Eastern Europe with his bare hands in pursuit of his child, we feel a vicarious thrill. Along with that responsibility, many of us men feel a nagging insecurity.  Most of us don't have "a special set of skills."  As I told my daughter once in an attempt to encourage her to be careful around strangers, "I'm not the Dad from Taken.  I'm the Dad who gets killed trying to save you."

We as Christians have a responsibility to defend our faith.  But most of us feel highly unqualified to do that, especially in a culture where it is more and more popular to attack Christian beliefs.  Now I want to make something clear: I have a friend who is an atheist.  We’ve had lunch together, and we send each other messages from time to time.  I pray for his salvation.  He’s a little older than me, and very committed to his atheism, but he respects my beliefs and my right to do what I do.  He just doesn’t want any of his tax dollars going to support or promote my beliefs.  There are plenty of people out there like my friend.  But today, increasing numbers of atheists, agnostics and other irreligious people feel that the world needs to rid itself of religion entirely.  Inspired by several best-selling authors, they have an evangelistic zeal to disparage, discourage, and utterly defeat faith wherever they see it.  I suspect most of you know what I’m talking about; you’ve experienced it.  Someone has tried to make you feel ridiculous for your beliefs: a neighbor, a boss, a co-worker, a relative, a professor, a classmate.  The question I want us to explore is, how do we respond to these kinds of attacks?  I’ve been preaching for several weeks now on boldness, and I want to end the series this Sunday by talking about how to boldly represent Christ in the presence of those who mock our faith.  We'll be looking at 1 Peter 3:15-16, written to a group of Christians who lived in a culture far more hostile to their faith than ours. 

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