Stewarding God’s Truth In An Age Of Christophobia
“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
I am concerned about how we proclaim God’s truth in this age of post-truth and a rising Christophobia. The Steward’s Journey is about a life-long commitment to live as stewards and not owners, and that worldview serves us well in addressing this concern.
Owners make God’s truth their truth. When we own truth, we defend it, argue over it and even vilify brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with us. I believe 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 that we are called to steward. And truth is a big one.
As we are confronted by an increasingly hostile, Christophobic culture we must be careful to be stewards and not owners of the truth and grace of God. (John 1:14) Stewards acknowledge that all truth is God’s truth. They never speak of my religion, my beliefs or my truth. They seek only to be faithful followers of Jesus, and, with joy, to point others to Him.
As stewards of God’s truth, we understand that Biblical truth is not a teaching or a doctrine or a belief system. Truth is Jesus Christ, 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 you are 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, and let God do what God will do. When the result is hatred and rejection, then we have aligned ourselves with those whom the world hated because of Christ. But how many others may come to faith in Him in the process?
According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 24 (found also 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, share His words, His gospel, His love and His truth. If they hate Him and all He said and did – and they will – then that hatred will be passed on to us when we proclaim Him faithfully and live lives that consistently point to him. (John 7:7, 15:8)
Christophobia may seem to be directed at Christians, but it is ultimately a fear and hatred of 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, to salvation and 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. To a global culture that deifies wealth and pursues happiness without regard to any moral boundaries, the idea of repentance, surrender and obedience are anathema. 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, instead, 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.