You can’t have Christmas without the classic, plastic, old school nativity scene.
This is an assumption that I make, informed mostly by my 70’s and 80’s childhood, which also included those large, multi-colored Christmas lights that were known to overheat and burn down homes.
Assumptions are a part of life, aren’t they? Along the way, we pick up a few facts, interact with them, gain some experience, and voila, we begin making connections that turn into assumptions about the way things are, and ought to be.
Most of the time, our assumptions turn out pretty well---but not always.
As people who’ve heard the call of Christ to make disciples where ever we may be, we ought to always be immersed in God’s word, ingesting the full counsel of God so that what comes out in our lives is a public display of the transformation of the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 12:2).
Part of living a “sent” life involves having a grasp not only on what you believe, but why you believe it. Providing a sound, biblical defense of our faith is something that the Apostle Peter calls us to as we fulfill the Great Commission. Here’s what he had to say [emphasis mine]:
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
(1 Peter 3:15 ESV)
When we fail to engage God’s word in any meaningful way, when we leave our spiritual formation to the pastor’s Sunday sermon alone, we disregard Peter’s direction, and put ourselves in the position of making assumptions about our faith when witnessing opportunities come.
Unfortunately, our assumptions are not always biblical, and we may find ourselves answering questions based upon what we hope the Bible says, or upon what we think the Bible says. This is an unwise, and quite frankly, lazy approach to our life’s mission.
Without question, faithful theologians have spent their entire lives pouring over the Scriptures, and yet have recognized that they’ve just scratched the surface of God’s revelation of Himself. The word is complex, and should be approached with humility, and a clear understanding of who we are, and who God is.
Yet, the word is clear, accessible, and able to be understood by the simplest of readers. Protestant theologians call this the perspicuity of Scripture. The Bible affirms this about itself, in fact, in Phil. 3:15-16.
Not all faith traditions hold this view, though. Roman Catholicism, for example, holds to a view that finds the Bible to be imperspicuous, meaning that individual believers must be informed by the interpretative work of the church and its traditions in order to rightly divide the word of truth.
I certainly don’t agree with the RCC on this issue, but I think we can all agree that every able-bodied disciple of Christ has a responsibility to be prepared to give a defense (Gk. apologian), with grace and mercy, for the hope that’s within them. This is part of the missionary process, and no one can accomplish this mission without engaging God’s word.
One of the most common excuses given for not sharing the Good News with unbelievers is a lack of knowledge---a lack of understanding how to share the Gospel. Fortunately, we live in an age that puts everything we need for missions and evangelism at our fingertips. For example:
· If you don’t have a print copy of the Bible, click here.
· If you’re not sure how to share the Gospel, click here.
· If you’re wondering what some words in the Bible mean, click here.
· If you want to know how to answer some common objections, click here.
These are but a sampling of the resources that are available to us all, and you don’t have to be a seminarian to access and make good use of them. With just a little bit of effort, we can all be good missionaries by preparing ourselves to share the greatest story ever told with confidence.
[A word of warning: There are excellent resources available through the Internet, and there are wolves and charlatans prowling the information super-highway. Be very discerning as to where you turn for help.]
Remember, it’s ok to make assumptions about plastic nativity scenes at Christmas. No one ever got hurt by a crazy shepherd with a plastic cane (that I know of). But, you should probably retire those old Christmas lights that your grandparents gave you. They're just not safe.
As you’re walking:
· How are you preparing yourself today to give a defense of the hope that’s within you?
· In what areas of witnessing and evangelism would you like to grow most?