One of the reasons I am involved with the Colson Center and Colson Fellows program is because it is the heart of what I’ve been doing most of my life: speaking and writing on issues related to worldview….
In America, we find ourselves in a culture where the Christian worldview is no longer the default. Our culture no longer has even a modicum of biblical literacy and understanding of Christian ethics, or an appreciation of our religious history.
We are in a wasteland between two mountain ranges. One is that of religious fundamentalism; not just Muslim fundamentalism but many times Christian fundamentalism, where moralism is confused with evangelism, and where legalism replaces grace. Pointing the finger and shouting is quite an ordinary strategy.
The other mountain range is fundamentalist atheism: same tactics, different message.
And here we are in the middle, where people go from place to place, finding something they want to believe in, or maybe not. It really doesn’t matter.
To be a Christian today, to understand the person of Jesus Christ and what he has done and what it means to commit ourselves to him, takes a little bit of thought. You have to think about it because we have more information than ever.
Teenagers and preteens today are actually reading more than they have ever read. Most of it is online, but they are reading more, getting more information and more challenges to faith. This is not only in the moral sector but even in the philosophical and religious sector. And they are not sure what to do with it.
Because of this confusing social and spiritual world we live in, we actually have to think about what we believe; not just once but continually. Every day. And I think that’s a good thing. It’s taking up your cross daily.
But frankly, many young people today do not openly reject Christ; they just don’t care. They don’t even want to think about, let alone to come to conclusions about, ultimate issues in life — like origin, meaning, morality and destiny — the very foundation of a worldview, the very foundation of an individual’s life. Why bother? They just don’t care.
I would rather stand toe to toe with a radical Muslim (which I have done a number of times) or a radical atheist than somebody who doesn’t care. Because you can’t make people care.
It’s called apatheism. Bill Maher, a well-known celebrity who holds this position, has a short piece on YouTube describing how he used to be an atheist but now he just really doesn’t care.
And this group is much larger than we think. The flood of information from the Internet does not make people smarter; it has hardened their hearts. This disinclination toward God, combined with the cultural and spiritual milieu in which we find ourselves, results in a growing antagonism toward people who really believe something, who really want to follow Jesus Christ….
In this context, the writer of Hebrews 10:19-21 gives us some admonitions. The times were difficult for this readers of his letter. He spent the first nine and a half chapters describing why we have confidence in the person of Christ and in God’s work in the world, and in spite of the overwhelming persecution the readers are undergoing, he urges them to activate that confidence — confidence to enter the most holy place by a new and living way, Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.
Second, this risen Lord was also their great high priest, the one who is interceding for them to God. … These truths remain for us. We must have confidence because we have the same Jesus as our intercessor. And because these are true for us, the following instructions apply to us as well:
First, “let us draw near to God with full assurance of faith”… Serving Christ means we know Christ. It is a vision. It is hope that drives us, and it comes from a personal relationship with Christ, an intimate relationship with Christ that we renew regularly. It begins on our knees.
I think of William Wilberforce. We talk about those decades he worked in perseverance for the elimination of the slave trade and slavery. Every day, he was on his knees, and that’s where we start. And your prayers matter! When I realized that God exists beyond time, and He is not limited by our sequential time structure, that’s when I came aware that God gives me His full attention when I pray. That’s what He has promised. It doesn’t take God any time when you pray.
When you start talking to Him, He is there. Sometimes we are not aware of that and we think our words don’t mean anything. But they mean everything to our Father. We draw near to God with full assurance that He is there. He is! Try it. That’s what God says.
Second, “we hold unswervingly to the hope we profess.” Hope is the most important of the three Christian virtues. You may say, in 1 Corinthians 13, the greatest of these is love. The greatest, but not the most important. Even Peter says we are always ready to give an answer for — what? Hope (1 Peter 3:15). Why? Because hope is very visual and very visible to people when they see how you live, how you respond, how you treat people. We hold unswervingly to this hope because it is real. It’s not a maybe.
And then third, “therefore, we consider how we can spur each other, first to love and then to good works.” That’s what we do with the Colson Fellows … with the Colson Center; that’s what many of you are doing in your lives. We draw near to God. We have hope. It’s so visible, the way that we live, and then we are looking around for opportunities to serve, to care, to love.
Notice, in these instructions, written in times of severe persecution, there is not one word of animosity, vitriol or outrage. That’s not what Christians do. That’s not what Jesus did…
This approach is in the mission statement of the Colson Center…. [which] exists “to ignite hope by informing, equipping and uniting the body of Christ to live the Christian worldview in this cultural moment.” … Does that sound good? There’s no outrage in there either. We want to ignite hope. … I like the word ignite; let’s get hope burning!
We can ignite hope by informing. Listen to BreakPoint. Every day, you can hear a biblical perspective of life in the world. And you don’t hear any outrage in there either, do you?
We can ignite hope by equipping. That’s what we do in the Colson Fellows program, to equip you to serve substantively in a confusing and hopeless culture.
And we can ignite hope by uniting. Some Christians don’t like that, but we unite the body of Christ for the vision Christ laid out for us. To do what? To live the Christian worldview in this cultural moment. May God give us the strength, the favor, the power to do just that.
• William E. (Bill) Brown, Ph.D., is senior fellow of worldview and culture at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. He is an academic, filmmaker and prolific writer, with a popular Web log, Radical Life, at www.williamebrown.org. This excerpt is from his April 10, 2016 remarks at the Wilberforce Weekend in Arlington, Virginia.
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