by Mark Mittelberg
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” (2 Tim. 1:7, all Scripture quotations NLT)
God did not give us a spirit of timidity—but we sure seem to have picked it up somewhere along the way! Many of us have become tentative in our faith, and especially in our willingness to share it with others. Perhaps we’ve bought into the cultural value that religious convictions are best kept to ourselves; that what we believe is a private matter; that it would be presumptuous to tell someone else that they should believe what we believe.
A key value of society today is tolerance, which has come to mean not only accepting the person with a different point of view, but also accepting that point of view as being equally valid to our own. We’re told we must avoid imposing our viewpoints on somebody else and that we should never try to proselytize another person into our religion.
We’ve been affected by the seething, spreading disease of relativism—one that tells us we’ve got our truth and others have their truth. What matters most is that we’re all sincere, and that we find a way simply to coexist.
Further, we’re made to feel that it would be arrogant to suppose that we’re right and someone else is wrong. And we should not even hint at the idea that God would ever hold people accountable for disobeying His commands. The idea of hell went out with a previous century, didn’t it?
It’s no wonder, given these cultural realities, that many of our churches have let the value of “reaching our world for Christ” quietly be replaced with “serving our world in the name of Christ.” Both are important, but the pendulum has swung and many churches have…