Sunday, November 04, 2007

Shouldn't Every Christian be Opinionated?

Today our church had a potluck, and in discussion at our table, it became clear that I had opinions on at least four prominent people who we discussed. One of the people at the table asked me, "You're opinionated, aren't you?" I have to admit I've had that said of me before. Can't deny it, wouldn't want to. In response I exaggerated my emphasis, saying something such as, "Every Christian should be opinionated." I think my answer further exemplifies what he was talking about. Still, the issue just may be how the opinions are expressed, because at this point I lost him. He turned to talk to someone presumably less vocal in their opinions even though I was trying to be funny.
Should every Christian be opinionated? Should every Christian be vocal?
A Christian without opinions...I don't even know what that is. We can't empirically prove that God exists, that Jesus is God, that we are saved and atheists are not, that the Bible is truly God's Word. There are many things that a person could properly assume a Christian believes, but that not even the most godly Christian can prove is true. Then I would say all these things rightly fall into the realm of opinion. I think it's true, you don't, but (to my chagrin) I can't make you believe it because of any set of earthbound undeniable facts. The Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and we believe it, but if you don't believe in the Holy Spirit, (sigh) then I just have to throw my hands up and leave it at that.
How can a Christian stand firm for Christ without any opinion? Without opinion I can't say that sin is wrong, that living for God is right, that we should evangelize the lost, that Christ died for our sins, that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. I can't say that my children should follow Him, or that government shouldn't take the place of parents. I won't know how to vote on any issue.
For that matter, everyone is opinionated, even if they don't speak up. Unbelievers have opinions and no other unbeliever generally even questions them, that loving people are tolerant of all lifestyles, that abortion should be legal, that global warming is a real and urgent concern, that we should save the whales, that the spotted owl needs protection, that war is wrong, that everyone must work together to save the planet, that we should buy pink products for breast cancer funding, that we shouldn't litter. Some of these I oppose, and some I can go along with in a more casual way. I don't know what the standard of the unbeliever is except what the media promotes as the good, common-sense thing of the hour. It changes with the times.

I can only dare to take my stand on any item because I have a specific, unchanging, unapologetic, and right Standard in Christ. His Word determines my decision-making and my values and my opinions; He does not change like shifting shadows. Living by His Word has changed my life and given me peace and purpose; how can I not stand on it and against all that opposes it?
Not speaking up can be convenient for the moment, but historically, at times, the results have at times been disastrous. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.” If only more people had dared to speak up in those days!
Ephesians 4:14-16 Paul exhorts us to know our doctrine, to be able to discern against deceivers, and to speak out against them; again in 6:10-18 He tells us to be strong and stand firm. How can we do this without being opinionated? That escapes me. And so I hold to my opinions and am glad for them, because many of them (not all) come from His love-letter to me (the Bible) and they help me serve my Savior who died for me. He was of the opinion (which escapes me) that I was someone somehow worth saving.

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