“Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business.”
A few days ago while eating breakfast I heard a similar quote from a man that was sitting at a table next to me.
I grew up in a world where religion was viewed as a positive virtue because it helped to create a foundation of morality and truth. Times have changed! But many people assume that’s how it’s always been and lament the fact that we live in an age where things that were once viewed as wrong – are now affirmed and celebrated.
How do we react? Do we sit and be quiet, or huddle up as Christians and avoid the world? Or should we just cave and join them in their beliefs?
The reality: We are entering a period of time that will resemble the culture of the early church world like never before.
But this is also true: The church didn’t die; it didn’t huddle up and create shelters from the storms – rather they walked by faith and the church survived and even thrived.
What was the path of living in such a fallen world like for the early church? Part of the answer was the posture and belief of what Peter wrote about during a time of great persecution. Look at this passage:
I Peter 3:14-16 “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Think of the list of issues that are challenging the Christian world in terms of belief and practice. You’ll hear many people say things like:
- Why do Christians think they have a corner on truth?
- The Bible is full of errors and can’t be trusted.
- Christians throughout history have committed so much evil – what hypocrites!
- Christians and churches are so hung up on sex – who cares who you love?
- How could a loving God send people to hell?
- What kind of God would allow so much evil and suffering?
- Jesus isn’t really God, he was just a good man who lived on this earth.
- How do we know that God is really real?
- Christians and science can’t coexist.
- Christians think they are so superior and think their way is the only way – what hypocrites!
That phrase “give an answer” in I Peter 3 and the word “answer” is translated from “apologian,” from which our English word “apology” is derived. It means a defense.
The early church understood that they needed to be prepared to defend what they believe, even teach what they believe, and also practice and live out those beliefs.
We will embark on growing to give a gracious “answer” coming Sunday mornings this fall. Stay tuned for “Big Objections. I would believe but…”