Who would you rather have dinner with on the cruise ship? Daniel, Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, Mike Pence or Joy Behar? If you have the gift of evangelism, you probably said “Joy,” but the rest of us would likely vote for one of the others. There is a lot of verbal slander these days from the non-Christian viewpoint but Christians should find a lot of comfort in recognizing the power of the Christian influence in our world.
Joy Behar made news a couple of weeks ago for slandering the Vice President’s faith. She said Pence’s religious beliefs were “scary” and a kind of “mental illness.” Those comments were a response to an interview on The View with Omarosa Manigault. Manigault said that Americans should be worried about Pence because he thinks Jesus speaks to him. Behar said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you.”
I won’t spend my time blogging about those comments. If you read this blog, you don’t need any convincing about which side of the argument has merit. Joy Behar would consider us mentally ill and scary. Omarosa would probably be worried about all of us who believe the Bible and God’s Holy Spirit are his voice. I pray both women are given the chance to recognize and know the voice of Jesus before they stand before Him.
I think it’s important for us to consider the power of a godly witness. I’m teaching Daniel, chapter one this week. I’ve often said that two of the people I look forward to meeting in heaven are Daniel’s mom and dad. The prophet was a young man when King Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers captured and enslaved him. The first wave of captives were the best and the brightest from Israel and Daniel was in that group. Daniel and his friends were powerful influences to the pagan Babylonian culture, and to every culture since.
Tim Tebow is the only minor league ankle sprain making headlines today. He recently tripped on a sprinkler and his opening game appearance has been delayed for several weeks. Tony Dungy received a lot of criticism for his pre-game interview with the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Foles, because they discussed the confidence that his Christian faith gave him for the game. Each of these men have lived with a vocal and influential Christian witness to our culture.
What lessons do these men teach us that we should learn and help others to learn?
We should speak up for our faith. Mike Pence was quick to respond to Joy Behar saying, “It’s just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of religious intolerance.” Tim Tebow received criticism for bowing to pray, wearing John 3:16 on his football black-eye paint, and for his position on sexual abstinence until marriage. Tony Dungy has been criticized for “preaching on air.” We should all be so lucky. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11).
We should recognize the powerful impact of an enduring witness. Daniel was a prophet in Babylon for about seventy-five years. Tebow was raised in a strong Christian home and continues to live with his convictions. Tony Dungy was an undrafted player in 1977 and was fired from his head-coaching job twenty-five years later. He preaches that God has always turned his trials into blessings. Dungy was honored at the age of sixty when elected into the Football Hall of Fame. During his acceptance speech he said, “The Lord has truly led me on a wonderful journey through 31 years in the NFL—through some temporary disappointments to some incredible joys.” The goal for every Christian is to be able to reach the end of our lives saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Separate your life from the things that are ungodly. Daniel and his friends didn’t eat the food the Babylonians put in front of them. Instead, they honored their faith and only ate what was considered “clean” food. They were stronger and healthier for living in obedience to God and separating themselves from the unclean ways of the Babylonians. I don’t watch The View so Joy Behar has little, to no influence in my life. But I know the show is popular with a lot of people. I know the Christian women who have been hosts don’t stick around very long on that show. That ought to influence the Christian viewers to do the same. The word “holy” means to be set apart or dedicated to what is sacred. One of the common denominators of Daniel, Tim Tebow and Tony Dungy is the outstanding influence of their witness. They all stand out in the crowds, not for just what they say, but for their lives that give their words power. St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
If I’m ever on a cruise ship with Joy Behar, Tony Dungy or Tim Tebow I will probably just pray about where I am seated. But I can’t help but think the Baked Alaska will taste better if I get to share dessert with Tony or Tim! For today, it is a good idea just to consider the opportunities we have. Help us Lord to preach your Gospel with our lives and, when necessary, with our words. We want to, and can, lead powerful lives of Christian influence.