One time I was flying on a plane to the island of Trinidad for a mission trip. I was in the aisle seat and the middle and window seat were occupied by a couple that lived there. Assuming that I wasn’t a native, they asked me where I was staying and started telling me about the best spots a tourist could visit. They seemed so excited about helping me have a good time as they told me about the best beaches and restaurants. They then asked me what I was doing on the island. This is when any Christian should be rolling with excitement because in this situation the conversation is teed up to talk about the Gospel. To my own shame, instead of excitement I felt some anxiety. Maybe it’s because the wife looked to be of Indian descent and I knew that most Indian’s on the island are Hindu. I had a sinking feeling that they wouldn’t want to talk about why I was there. Nevertheless, I told them what we were doing. In the conversation I found that the lady had grown up Hindu and the man was agnostic. They told me of some of the charitable things they had done, but their demeanor indicated that they were uncomfortable talking about this subject. I guessed they agreed that you don’t discuss religion or politics.
When I think about this story, 2 Timothy 1:7 comes to mind. It states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” If you have time, go read v. 8-12 as well. My conviction is that even though I tried to do what I was supposed to, apprehension was still present. In other words, why did my mind processing that they might be unbelievers lead me to feel uncomfortable instead of excited at the opportunity to share the news that may change their lives?
I believe that the reason we often feel fear is because identifying ourselves as Christians is polarizing and it puts us at risk, especially in a society that is trending to be more combative towards the Gospel. No one wants a target on their back and in today’s religious climate you can be characterized as unloving and hateful if you try to present your beliefs as superior to someone else’s. Boldly proclaiming Christ can be costly.
But can I say that it comes at a much greater cost to remain silent? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, famous for his Christian faith during the Nazi regime, says, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” People must be told of the consequence of sin. People must be told of the salvation that comes in Christ. People must be told of the whole counsel of God revealed in His word. The cost is too great not too. So speak out in love. Speak out according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. But please speak out. May we not shrink back, but have full confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to testify boldly of what we know to be true.
It’s a joy to serve with you all,