Christians fancy themselves as loving people who model their behavior after the compassionate God-man, Jesus of Nazareth. Society, on the other hand, believes differently. Christians are allegedly bigoted, anti-science, judgmental, and backward-thinking. While society “progresses,” we’re allegedly stuck in the past, trying to hold back morality, science, and sexual ethics. That apparently makes us hateful.
I know because I’ve been out there, talking to people, and getting a lot of solicited and unsolicited feedback. In fact, I gave 158 presentations to more than 26,000 people in 2017 (that’s the most I’ve reached in a single year). As in the past, I was often invited to teach on controversial topics that Christians are eager to better understand: abortion, homosexuality, and Islam. Many times, non-Christians (especially Muslims, the LGBT community, or abortion-choice advocates) attended these events, leading to lively and spirited discussions. Even when I responded in a kind, calm, and gracious tone, people still interpreted the content of what I was saying as hateful. What all this engagement taught me is that it has become harder to convince the world that the hallmark characteristic of Christians is love. You’ve probably noticed this, too.
Although that can be discouraging, it reminds me why Stand to Reason’s mission and vision is so critical for our time. STR’s mission is to train Christians to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for Christianity. By doing that, we hope our vision will become a reality for you:
Confidence for every Christian
Clear thinking for every challenge
Courage and grace for every encounter
I’m sure you, like I, have made it a goal to be gracious and loving when sharing your faith or communicating your worldview. I’ll admit, though, I have room for improvement. But sometimes it doesn’t matter how kind or gracious you are. Sometimes God’s message—whether it’s the Gospel, or Jesus’ view on sexuality, or something else—gets people upset. In those times, it’s critical to remember Stand to Reason’s mission and vision. The goal is to have confidence, to think clearly, and to be courageous and gracious in every encounter with non-believers.
Notice the focus of our mission and vision is on you, the believer. We’re trying to train a certain kind of person: an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). It’s your job to be faithful to that identity. You’re supposed to proclaim the truth in a clear and persuasive yet winsome and gracious way. Then, leave the results up to God. Don’t be committed to the end result—that’s in God’s hands—but be responsible for your part.
Unfortunately, I predict it will be more difficult for ambassadors for Christ to share their convictions in 2018. That’s why at STR we’re more committed than ever to train you to make a difference for Christ wherever your sphere of influence is.