“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 NIV)
How purposefully do we live when we don’t know or understand the love, grace, joy, and hope of Jesus Christ?
When I hear others explain that they think people need to mind their own business, respectively, and not talk about faith or Jesus, I hear the calmness in their voice—their composure in choosing to walk through life in question and agnosticism. I lived as an agnostic and as an unbeliever for most of my life, so I understand this philosophy all too well.
Even while an atheist, I claimed myself to be a “good man” because I did “good things”. But, good things according to who? How did I know whether or not anything I did was actually “good”? How would I connect what I thought of as good to the concept of living a purposeful life if I was the one defining ‘good’ and ‘purposeful’? When we define these terms for ourselves, we live half-heartedly. Why? How else can we live when we don’t know who we serve?
We all serve someone or something, whether we admit to it or not. We serve idols when we become addicted to drugs, sex/pornography, alcohol, or even technology (spending hours on end looking through social media or texting, even when we’re in the presence of close friends), among others. How do we serve idols? By prioritizing them ahead of ourselves and others. We put our health in jeopardy when we spend hours on our phone when we could be sleeping. We jeopardize our minds when we watch lifeless TV shows that exploit promiscuous sex, gratuitous violence, and profane language. We jeopardize relationships when we’re so busy giving our time to our idols that we lose time to spend with loved ones. Ultimately, what does all of this have to do with Jesus? —When we don’t have Jesus, we fill ourselves up to the brim with the world.
The world is as close to Heaven as Heaven gets for an unbeliever because for the unbeliever, there is no Heaven. It doesn’t exist. When that is the case, not only is there no need for Jesus, there’s a deeper need to fulfill all the areas of our lives left unfulfilled and unattended to without faith in a Lord who provides for all of our needs. People under the illusion that a life of worldly pleasures is a fulfilled life have never met pure joy face-to-face. Joy in Christ feels radiant; permanent as it extends beyond mood or situation. Joy is a mentality and it is as ubiquitous as oxygen. Faithlessness gives us something to choke on like second-hand smoke: Not knowing the answers to anything we want to understand but refuse to question will only lead us to suffocate on the lies and manipulations of a world huffing and puffing the pollution of idols and addictions until these lies are met with the unconditional love found in faith in Jesus Christ. When we find unconditional love, there is no need to turn back. Faith in Jesus Christ paves the road to relationship, community, fulfillment, joy, hope, and teamwork; all the opposite characteristics of a life of idolatry, addiction, and the trap of indulgence: Isolation, shame, loneliness, solidarity, a lack of joy, and the assumption that the hope of today is found in the transience of self-pleasure.
Truly, how would others know about Jesus if His name was never mentioned? How viable is the argument for keeping silent the name of Jesus around those who don’t believe out of “respect for their choices”? I genuinely believe the people who attempt to stay away from Jesus’s name have had traumatic experiences with people who claim to be Christian but who never declared Jesus as Lord in their heart. For these people, Christianity carries a connotative, nearly indelible sting—regardless of whether or not they are okay with others believing in Christ as Lord. For those in this category who grew up with adults claiming the faith without any visible, noticeable life changes, Christianity has become the bruised image of something meant to be miraculous, but ultimately appearing to be damaged, ambiguous, and questionably detrimental. Christianity without joy and hope is not Christianity.
Claiming Christ as Lord and then having a temper tantrum over menial things proves a lack of control, and a lack of surrender to God. When we authentically surrender ourselves to Jesus, we are able to release the weight of our worries and stresses from our shoulders because we believe it is not us who has control over the solutions to our problems, but Jesus. Do you question whether or not your mom or dad—who fed you every day during childhood—had your best in mind? Like this, we don’t question God’s capabilities when we acknowledge His power in creating the universe and our planets, especially Earth, since it is the one planet capable of sustaining intelligent life. Because of this, our faith trains us to understand that if we can trust in God, we won’t need to be afraid of not having control over everything. This fearless response enables us to release our worries to Him, and in turn, this trust matures us spiritually as we stop depending on ourselves and start living in the hope of a caring, loving, trustworthy God named Jesus.
For those who did not experience any peer/parent/role model with an authentic life-altering change through faith, this may damage the picture of what faith looks like, but it does not change what Jesus is actually capable of doing. Remember, Jesus works in a softened, contrite heart, desiring His invitation to be loved and remade. Jesus cannot work in a hardened heart because we are given free will. A hardened heart says “No, I don’t need you, Jesus—You’re not my Lord,” and Jesus will not force us. He sends disciples (Matthew 28:19) to spread the word of His testimony, but He never forces us to believe.
From this, what we can take is that when no one speaks about Jesus, there is so little chance to find hope and joy in His perfect love for us. Additionally, there is hardly a means of changing our perspective that worldly, transient pleasures are life’s only purpose. And what a sad, disappointing culmination to life that would be with the atrocities that occur every day; like terrorism, sex trafficking, and homelessness. How do we look at life with these realities and think that self-indulgence is the purpose?
Readers, I want to urge you to consider what these words mean for you and for others you know. Most of you who read this may not be unbelievers, but I’m sure you know several people who are. Let this be a reminder of the power of Jesus’s name, and that keeping quiet about Him is not “respecting others’ privacy”; being quiet is taking away others’ chance to know that there is a God who lives, and He came in the flesh to bless us with eternal life through Jesus, and Jesus wants us to experience life to the full (John 10:10). If we keep quiet, how can we make disciples of nations? How can we change others’ lives if we only point to ourselves, or to idols? How can we be a role model when our best impression is rooted in narcissism? How can we live purposefully when we only serve the world, and the world is only looking in the mirror and not to the hope of tomorrow?
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