Thursday, January 7, 2010

Defending God

Must we defend God? Must we defend the things of God: the Bible, the church, or the family? We are commanded in Scripture to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3; Titus 1:9). But, as in many things, a lot depends on what we mean by what we say.

Sometimes we get the picture of the truth as a helpless heroine attacked by ninjas with AK-47s. It is our place to charge in and save her before she is hurt by these ruffians. Rather, the truth of God is a Sherman tank being attacked by frogs with firecrackers. Our goal is not to save Sherman tanks but to rescue frogs before they get hurt. And ultimately to get them to come aboard the tank where they are truly safe. To do this, we may need to "defend" the tank. We may need to explain how it is real steel and not plywood. How their firecrackers are useless against it. How, if they are not careful, they will be crushed by its treads.

God is the supreme ruler of the universe (Isaiah 42:5-9; 43:10-13; 44:6-8). He does not need us or what we can provide Him (Psalm 50:7-15), and nothing we do can spite Him (Jeremiah 7:19). Our attempts at rebellion are insignificant to Him (Psalms 2:1-6; Isaiah 40:22-24). He has promised He will build His church (Matthew 16:18; Colossians 2:19). And ultimately He will be victorious, no matter who opposes Him (Psalms 46:8-11; Isaiah 2:2-4).

Our problem is we can believe the propaganda of those who disagree with us. They are utterly convinced that they are going to win and traditional Christianity is going to vanish from the earth. This is not new. The Roman emperors, the Neoplatonists, the Deists and the Communists all believed the same thing. Most of them have become footnotes in history. The Communists are still around, but have not been doing so well since 1989. Their coliseums have crumbled, their walls have fallen, their houses been taken over by the Geneva Bible Society. And we are still here. Traditional Christianity has been around 2000 years. In that time we have been outlawed, put to death, argued against and vilified, and we are still around. Neither we nor our opponents should be too quick to assume our demise is eminent. God has brought us through it before and will again.

What difference does this make? In terms of our attitude, a considerable difference. If we consider that the preservation of God's truth depends on us, we become defensive. We can panic. We can act angry and hostile. But if we trust that God is in control of the world and will win in the end, we can go forth with confidence. And we can demonstrate the kindness God requires us to show to those without (2 Timothy 2:24, 25; Colossians 4:5, 6). Let us therefore consider how best to rescue frogs. For the tank was never in danger and never will be.

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