Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What the Political Debates Taught Me About Sharing My Faith

These thoughts are not an endorsement of any Presidential candidate, party or campaign, but only convey the lessons I've learned through the dialog of the debates.

Republicans currently find themselves locked in a battle for the spot to challenge Barack Obama for President of the United States. A large portion of the battle has been contested in the televised debates. One candidate, in particular, really said something that has influenced how I think about sharing my faith.

A little background for those not following the race closely: Mitt Romney, the front-runner for most of the race, is considered by many to be a "moderate" Republican. The other candidates are seen by many to be competing for the "Anti-Romney" position. Rick Santorum, in particular, continues to present himself as the most conservative candidate.

He says that we need a bold contrast to Obama, not someone who looks similar (a moderate). He says that the party needs someone who can paint a sharp picture that clearly defines our differences so they're easy to see. He says he wants to give America a clear choice between two people whose differences are easy to spot.

What's the point? I'm currently involved in a bit of a challenge that faces me and many of my freelance colleagues. We contract for the same company, and this company has been a reliable source of income for years. The challenges we face are causing fear among many who have relied on this income.

Through this: I've learned something valuable. Do I, as a Christian, present a sharp, bold, stark contrast to the world? When is my opportunity to do that? When I face a seemingly hopeless situation. Do I sit in the seat of the scornful, lamenting, worrying, wringing my hands and looking like everybody else?

My God said "Let there be light," and there was light. He spoke the world into existence, He raised Himself from the dead, He's in total control, He's faithful, he loves me, and He's not wringing His hands in Heaven over my financial situation. Here's an opportunity to show tangible evidence to a circule of nonbelievers that "the God who Provides" is on my side and will provide for my need. Will I look like everyone else, or will I stand out by expressing my faith that my God always comes through for me?

In discussions with my colleagues, I share similar struggles. Yes, my main income is threatened and yes, I'm human. I'm nervous about them. But what sets me apart from others is that I know my God will provide, because He always does. Now's my opportunity to be that stark contrast between someone who sits there worrying, and someone who praises God no matter what, knowing He sees, knows and has already provided the solution.

Replies vary, from "I wish I had your faith," to "Jesus has never done anything for me; He's not putting food on my table," to "I used to have that kind of faith, but it never worked for me." Think there's an opportunity to present the Gospel now? Do you think that when God does provide, that the words I've spoken have come with some demonstrated power to back them up?

They already have. Why is this guy not worried, when he's going through the same seemingly hopeless situation I'm going through? Because my God is bigger than all these small things.

How does God want to use you to share the Gospel today? I've missed too many opportunities to demonstrate that sharp, clear contrast between a follower of Jesus and a follower of this broken world. Today, I'm choosing not to worry. Instead of sitting in the seat of scoffers, I choose to meditate on God's word. How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news?

The message I sent to the discussion follows, in it's entirety.

"He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him...Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?"

Isaiah 53:5-8; Acts 3:19; Matthew 6:8, 25-26; Romans 8:32 (NIV)

For those who disagree, no offense taken. But I choose not to worry.