Last week I went to see the new movie God’s Not Dead. The movie is made for Christians. The movie’s intent is to encourage believers to be bold witnesses for faith. I pray that it will inspire many Christians to explore the rational foundation of our faith and be courageous in sharing the truth. I also pray that we will remember to do so with genuine love and respect for those who disagree with us.
One scripture reference that is used to encourage believers to share their beliefs openly is Matthew 10:32-33. In these verses, Jesus says, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (NIV). This is a powerful statement indicating that Jesus expects us to openly declare our faith to the world.
But I want you also to remember that denying Jesus is not only a matter of what you say. It also matters how we act. We can acknowledge Jesus with our lips (or Facebook banners) and still “deny” Him with our actions. Jesus Himself quoted Isaiah when talking about some “religious” people around Him. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Matt. 15:8 NIV). In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says “Not everyone who says to me,’Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (NIV).
When we claim to be a Christian, but live our lives devoted to ourselves and not to the works that Jesus called us to do, we deny Him just as much as if we were to hide our faith. Jesus sought out the weak and poor and commanded us to do so as well. Jesus healed the sick and welcomed the outcast. He commands us to do so too. Jesus confronted religious hypocrisy and self-satisfaction.
We do need to admit that we are believers and not be ashamed of that. But many of those who are criticizing the church are not complaining about Jesus. They are calling us out because we say we believe in Him, but we deny Him with how we live. Let us shout gladly that we believe in Jesus. Let’s show that we mean it by how we love others.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC