Stewarding God’s Truth in an Age of Christophobia
November 15, 2023
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Matthew 24:9
How do we proclaim God’s truth in this post-truth age and rising Christophobia? The Center for Steward Leader Studies (CSLS) has dedicated itself to helping followers of Jesus embark on a life-long journey to live as stewards and reject the temptation to play the owner. The CSLS understands this is a battle over truth. Understanding that battle provides us with a worldview that can help us navigate the chaos raging around us.
At the heart of the battle is this owner-steward divide. Owners make God’s truth their truth. The truth we own is the truth we defend. We argue over it and even vilify brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with our version of it. The loss of our ability for civil dialogue in the body of Christ stems from this age-old sin of claiming ownership over those things we are called to steward. And God’s truth is a big one.
As an increasingly Christophobic culture confronts us, we must commit to be stewards and now owners of the truth and grace of God. (John 1:14) Stewards acknowledge that all truth is God’s truth. Stewards never speak of my religion, my beliefs, or my truth. They seek only to be faithful followers of Jesus and, with joy, point others to Him.
As stewards, we understand that Biblical truth is not a teaching, a doctrine, or a belief system. Truth is the person of Jesus Christ. Truth is the Word of God made flesh, revealing the heart of the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. And that is what the world hates. You can try to argue away a teaching, dismiss a doctrine, or malign a belief system. But when confronted with God’s truth, you encounter the living God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. And that encounter will either cause you to recoil in fear or fall to your knees in repentance.
Our calling as stewards is to introduce people to that encounter. Then, we are free to let God do what God will do. When the result is hatred and rejection, we take joy in aligning ourselves with those the world hated because of Christ. And how many others may come to faith in Him in the process?
According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 (also found in Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17, and John 15:18-25), the persecution and hatred of followers of Jesus will not come because of what we say or do, but solely because we are identified as having been with Christ. Stewards point to Christ and are persecuted because of Him. Our calling is to lift Him up and share His words, gospel, love, and truth. If they hate Him and what He said and did – and they will – then that hatred will be passed on to us. What else should we expect when we proclaim Him faithfully and live lives that consistently point the world to Him? (John 7:7, 15:8)
Christophobia may seem to be directed at Christians, but it is ultimately a fear and hatred of Jesus Christ. Because we bear the sweet-smelling aroma of Him, we will be the stench of death to the world. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)
How, then, do we steward God’s truth in an age of Christophobia? I believe we start by faithfully pointing the world to the One who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Nothing could be simpler, and nothing could be more explosive. Why would the world hate such a statement?
By claiming He is the Way, Jesus affirms that He is the only way to God, salvation, and full reconciliation with our Creator. (John 14:5-14, Acts 4:12) To our spiritually vacuous culture, this is seen as intolerant, Islamophobic, bigoted, narrow-minded, and judgmental. Yet this is the heart of the good news of the gospel. How do we steward this good news in this age?
By claiming He is the Truth, Jesus subsumes all human knowledge and understanding under the metanarrative of the coming of the kingdom of God. God’s truth is the reality of the world. Jesus came to earth full of grace and truth. Standing before Pilate, he proclaimed, “The reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37). To our morally relativistic culture, this is nothing more than forcing our beliefs on everyone, intolerance for other ‘truths,’ and religious arrogance. How do we steward God’s redemptive truth in this age?
Finally, by claiming to be the Life, Jesus reveals to us that our heart’s desires are only found in a relationship with Him. That is how we were created. Such a life requires repentance and a passionate pursuit of Christ. The fruit is the abundant life. (John 10:10) God then calls those who have experienced this life through God’s love and forgiveness to go and tell His story to all nations. (Matthew 28:19) And in turn, those nations will hate us because they hate the One who sent us. The ideas of repentance, surrender, and obedience are anathema to a global culture that deifies wealth and pursues happiness without regard for any moral boundaries. How do we steward God’s command and calling in this age?
I believe these are the questions with which the body of Christ should be struggling. The answers will most certainly require us to refuse the temptation to play the owner and take on the mantle of the faithful steward. Only then can we engage the great issues of our day with the sole desire to point others to Christ and steward His truth in our time.
Dr. Rodin is the founder / content expert for the Center for Steward Leader Studies. He also serves as President of Kingdom Life Publishing and Rodin Consulting Inc.