People probably know you attend church each Sunday, so it is quite possible someone will ask you if you are nervous or scared to do that this week. If it isn’t safe to go to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, is it safe to go to church anywhere? The real question behind those thoughts is even more difficult. Why didn’t God send angels to protect those people during their Sunday morning worship hour? Shouldn’t Sunday morning worship be the place God is most careful to guard and protect? What do we tell people when they ask us those hard questions?
God created us to live on planet earth during these exact days. We have a God-given purpose for our witness today, and we should consider that our calling. There are answers to the questions people will ask us about God. Scripture teaches that we need to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
I’m teaching Jeremiah 31 this week. The prophet was probably writing while in prison for his faith. He wrote to the people of Israel who “hadn’t died by the sword” during their captivity. Life was dark for all of them and seemed hopeless. But, through the prophet, God said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3 ESV).
God’s love for the people in FBC Sutherland Springs never faltered. God was faithful to keep his promise to each of them. God’s love is everlasting. God was faithful to honor his promise to save every believer in that building. Jesus faithfully gathered each of the believers who died that morning in loving arms, and he carried them to their home in heaven. God’s love never faltered and neither did his promises.
But what has God promised to those of us who remain? How do we explain God’s love for his people to a world that doesn’t hope in heaven? It is getting difficult to convince people that God is good when the world increasingly is not. What is our Christian witness in this darkening culture?
The same witness Paul had and taught others to have is our witness today.
Thessalonica was a seaport city, with all the same sins as our world today. It was difficult and dangerous to be a Christian in that ancient culture. People were persecuted and put to death for their Christian faith. Paul wrote to them and said, “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3).
Jesus will return, and he will come like a thief in the night. Until then, our witness to this culture is the same witness Paul taught the Thessalonians to live. Paul said, “You are all children of the light” (v. 5). “Be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (v. 8). “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (v. 10). Paul said, “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (v. 11).
We read the passages in our Bibles that describe the great faith of God’s people during ancient times. But, somehow, we don’t feel like faith should come at that same cost today. It does. All around the world, people die each day simply because they believe in Jesus. It will probably become costlier for Americans to live as Christians now as well.
The question to ask ourselves, before answering the questions others ask, is this: What price are you willing to pay for your Christian witness? “You are children of the light.” Jesus taught his disciples, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, emphasis added). You were born to this culture; therefore, this is the culture God sent you to and equipped you for as his witness.
This is the day you were reborn to live as his light to this culture.