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No Better Time to Be a Witness for Christ

The United States is becoming increasingly hostile to those who hold orthodox and historic Christian beliefs, at least that’s my impression. Christians in 2021, if they seek to follow Jesus honestly, sincerely, consistently, coherently, and faithfully, will be very different from the world around them. Very. If they blend in too much, they are not Christians, they are the world.

It is easy for believers today to forget that Christians should be very different from the world. Perhaps one reason we forget is our carnal and insatiable desire to fit in and be well-liked. The Doctrine of Tolerance has, I think, twisted our arm to the point of fearful or comfort-seeking compromise and theological passivity. What we think, say, and do as Christians should, without self-importance, self-righteousness, or ill will, communicate to the world that we serve the Lord Jesus Christ alone and that we are certainly different for his sake. The way we think, talk, work, play, rest, shop, spend, read, listen, look, taste, and schedule should noticeably communicate that we joyfully serve the Lord Jesus Christ and are greatly different from the world because of our union with Christ.

As we repent of sanctimoniousness, conceit, and argumentativeness, and as we seek to love and serve even our worst enemies, we must remember that God does indeed intend for us (His children) to be different and separate from the world. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Are we ignoring God at this point? Have we forgotten that as believers we are not to be essentially indistinguishable from unbelievers? The implied answer to each of Paul’s questions in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 is the same: none at all. Think about that.

Brothers and sisters, the Triune God is our God, and we are His covenant people. The unbelieving world is under a Covenant of Works and therefore under the condemnation of the law and the wrath of God Almighty. As believers united to Christ by faith, we are under a Covenant of Grace in Christ and therefore living in the warmth of God’s favor and love, and our heavenly Father calls us to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them . . . touch no unclean thing.” So we are to think and live much differently, not in some creepy commune in the hills, rather in the places God puts us in the world, but we are to be noticeably different from the world as we live as strangers and exiles among them (Heb. 11:13). We are not to touch the same unclean things (sinful activities that displease our God) the world touches. We are to experience life enjoying God’s good gifts in a distinctly different way than the world experiences and enjoys things (e.g. food, nature, sex, work, athletics, etc.).

This brings me to a thought from the Reformer, John Calvin. Calvin wrote:

But there is no believer whom the Son of God does not require to be his witness. In what place, at what time, with what degree of frequency, in what manner, and to what extent, we ought to profess our faith, cannot easily be determined by a fixed rule: but we must consider the occasion, that not one of us may fail to discharge his duty at the proper time. We must also ask from the Lord the spirit of wisdom and courage, that under his direction we may know what is proper, and may boldly follow whatever we shall have ascertained that he commands us. [1]

Let that sink in. There is no believer who the Son of God does not require to be his witness. What does a witness do? They testify or attest or declare the truth they experienced. A witness gives evidence and bears testimony. All Christians are to witness, to bear testimony to the truth, goodness, and glory of God in the person and work of Christ Jesus. Being a Christian is a public thing. People around you should know you follow Jesus because of your faithful witness. Calvin said, “we ought to profess our faith.” We certainly must be careful to do this prudently at the proper times, but Calvin is clear that “not one of us may fail to discharge his duty at the proper time.” It is our duty, as beloved children of God, to bear witness to the goodness and glory of our heavenly Father. Hasn’t our Father been candid with us that we are a people for his own possession in order to proclaim His excellencies precisely because He graciously called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9)?

Do people at least know you’re a Christian, that you identify yourself with Christ? Have you talked about Jesus with unbelievers? Are you discharging your duty with joy? And how do you hear these questions? With fear? With apathy? With disappointment? Ask the Lord to change your heart. Ask him for grace, courage, love, and the Spirit. Trust the Lord to help you be different as the United States grows increasingly hostile to Christians. Begin to live out your love for God in more faithful obedience to all His commands, and be different, not in an offensive or combative way, neither in a snooty or condescending way, but in a loving way through which people see the light of Christ and the glory of your heavenly Father in your good works (Mt. 5:16).

[1] John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 467.

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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