If I Only Had A Heart
How to Defend the Faith with Truth, In Love
Paul wrote, "If I am the greatest defender of the faith the world has known, but I don’t have love, I am like a noisy gong or clanging symbol." Well, those aren’t exactly the words he wrote, but the point is the same: What if I can defend the faith against the forces of hell itself?
If it’s a loveless defense, one without a heart, it is noise.
Two big "unloving" problems I have to deal with when I share with others are these:
1) Am I just being a smarty-pants parrot, blasting people with my canned answers, impressing them with my masterful logic and intelligence? Am I arguing just to win? Do I even care about them at all?
2) Am I being selective about with whom I speak? Am I just choosing the worthy, appropriately dressed, well-spoken people to share the faith with?
Neither of these attitudes is a reflection of the Incarnate God. Both betray a pride and shallowness that the Lord deplores. The following mallot-on-the-head list contains things I must periodically go through to remind myself to "knock it off!" and start being like Jesus when I defend the faith to others. See if it helps you be a more well-rounded, loving Christian and a better defender of our beautiful faith.
- I will not rely on my memorization of Scripture or any pat, impersonal, formatted delivery when telling someone of the beauty of the Christian faith.
- I will try to approach each person as Jesus did, as an individual with his/her own doubts, pain, and questions.
- I will not half-listen to them while trying to remember what "I’m supposed to say here."
- I will look them straight in the eye when they talk to me as if I’m the only person they know who will listen – because I might be – and I will rely on the prompting of the Spirit as to when and what I should say.
- I will not rely on tired Christian clichés in my conversation.
- I will try to express myself with original and honest answers as expected from a child of the Creator of the Universe.
- I will not be perky and smiley and happy when I am not.
- I will be honest, yet loving, whether I am happy or sad, uplifted or downhearted.
- I will not pray without expecting.
- I will learn to take prayer seriously, as a real call for the Healer to infiltrate and repair a broken situation in me or in those loved ones with whom He’s chosen to surround me.
- I will not exalt the tradition of the Church to the level of the unchanging Law and Love and Grace of God.
- I will learn the difference between the two and then reject tradition if necessary, but hold fast to God’s clear will at all costs.
- I will not allow politics or party platforms or rightwing/leftwing rhetoric or national polls to influence how I share or defend my faith.I will learn, as in everything, to be open to the wisdom of the Father, clinging to what is right and true and godly, and rejecting that which is wrong and false and contradictory to the Spirit of the Christ.
- I will not dismiss the talents I have because "expressing my gifts would be, you know, showing off."
- I will become the more complete Child of God, and thus a more effective witness, in recognizing the gifts that I have been blessed with, and then I will use those Gifts to His Glory and in blessing others. If singing, I will sing; if dancing, I will dance; if drawing, I will draw; if playing music, I will play; if writing, I will write – all to His Glory.
- I will not abhor the gifts of others just because those people may not be believers or may not recognize them as gifts.
- I will recognize that I can be blessed through the gifts of those unbelievers. I will enjoy their works as in the case of Mozart or Picasso, and I will learn about them through their gifts, thus becoming a more compelling defender. However, I will avoid their work if they blatantly use their gifts to profane my God.
- I will not cloister myself in some Christian subculture at every moment, hiding away in fear of the World. Without compromise, and seeking the Lord’s direction every day,
- I will work with, speak to, pray for, and befriend those unbelievers around me without condemnation. And with God’s strength, they will not pull me down; I will lift them out of the mire.
- I will not think less of anyone because they have pierced body parts or tattoos or they wear clothes that don’t match or they have a skin color different from mine.
- I will see them with my Father’s eyes – period.
By being what Jesus wants me to be, by saying what the Spirit has me to say, and by relying on the Father to give me strength, I will demonstrate to my brothers and sisters in the Lord that we are not mindless puppets on strings, incapable of independent thought – we are free to be the whole, consummate individuals in Him we were created to be, each a vital, unique part of a living, breathing Body. The world will see in me a fellow human, susceptible to falling and hurt and doubt, but a fellow human both changed and being changed, filled and being filled, imperfect but being perfected, saved and being saved.
And the World will see this and say, What must I do to be saved?
And I will show them the Answer.
- I will not try to save the world. But, as a living image of the Holy God, I will try to save the world around me.