According to a Barna research study, the impression Christians
are making on the 16 to 29-year-old demographic isn’t a very good one. Of those
non-believers surveyed, only 16 percent reported a favorable attitude toward
Christianity. The research also found that 87 percent believe Christians to be
judgmental, 85 percent view Christians as hypocritical and 70 percent describe
Christians as insensitive to others.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological
Seminary, began his message during the recent 20/20 “Conversing with the
culture” collegiate conference by referring to these statistics and noting that
sometimes Christians present a distortion of the faith instead of giving a
defense for the faith.
“Christians are often their own worst enemy,” he said.
In order to overcome these negative perceptions, and speak
the truth in love, Christians must be ready to make a case for their faith.
“We must know what we believe and why we believe it if we’re
going to profess well the faith we believe,” Akin said.
Speaking from 1 Peter 3:8-18, Akin outlined a three-fold
strategy to help believers understand what it looks like to be a person ready
to make a case for the faith. First, believers must be ready for action, which
begins with being united in love as believers in Jesus Christ. Christians must
guard their tongue, for “the Lord knows what’s going on in our lives. Who you
are must precede what you say,” Akin said.
Being ready for action requires a person to be zealous for
doing what is right. “Hold the truth with conviction and humility,” Akin said,
“with firmness and grace.”
The Christian life is not defined as a life free from
suffering and sorrow. In fact, scripture teaches that Christians can expect to
suffer for the cause of Christ. “You may suffer for righteousness’ sake,” Akin
Yet, “suffering provides a glorious opportunity to learn what it truly
means to be a disciple of Christ.”
Suffering will not be considered from this perspective until
Christians understand their life is about pleasing God — not man. “Make sure
you fear the right one,” Akin said.
The second part of the strategy, being prepared with a
defense, requires believers to “slay the idols” of the heart and to consider
Christ as preeminent over everything in life. “Nothing displeases Jesus more
than disbelief. You trust Him no matter what comes your way,” Akin said.
One of the most poignant moments during Akin’s address came
as he talked about the need for believers to not just give a well-defended case
for the faith, but to give a well-defended hope. A defense for the faith can’t
come if believers are not personally experiencing the hope they are trying to
The gospel is about hope in Christ. If the defense is weak,
perhaps the way to make it strong is to go back and remember the hope that
comes when trusting in Christ. “What is it that makes you hope in Christ above
all else?” Akin said. “Why do you treasure Him above all else? Do you know
Him as the lover of your soul?”
Akin then challenged the audience to be active in doing
good. To do good requires the action to be done in the right time in the right
way. “Doing the right thing in the wrong way at the wrong time leads to
resistance,” Akin warned.
Believers must seek to do good by seeking to always be
gracious in attitude. While a gracious spirit does not mean compromising on the
truths of the gospel, it does not mean speaking truth in way that is rude or
evokes an “inferiority complex,” Akin said.
Believers must seek to cultivate a clear conscience and to
become known for good, godly behavior. Being ready to give a defense is not
passive; it is an active, constant process.
When Christians are committed to always being ready to tell
about the hope they have in Christ they will in turn learn to trust in the will
of God no matter what.
God’s will may not be safe — many Christians have given the
ultimate cost, their very lives, to advance the gospel. Yet, God’s will is
acceptable and perfect. The Christian trusting in Christ is one who is
unashamed to tell of God’s great love for sinners.
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