Monday, September 11, 2006

Defending The Lion
Two weeks ago, while burning a couple of hours at Barnes & Noble, I overheard a tense conversation between a mother and her adult son about whether or not God should be defended. The mother, speaking in a thick southern accent, was vehemently opposed to her son's idea that God doesn't need to be defended. I pretended to read the back jacket of the latest best-seller, while intently listening to every muffled word of this awkward interaction. The quote that caught my attention was when the mother quietly shouted, "He died for me, you better believe I'll defend Him!"

I can remember a time when I felt the same way. People in school would talk about abortion and how a woman has the right to choose, and I'd take it as a personal shot at God. Others would bad mouth certain conservative politicians and I'd get all huffy because to me, those politicians were upholding the kinds of things God would want us to uphold. I got to the point where I'd read books about defending God from the evils of a society that was out to push God further and further to the fringes of culture (the same culture, by the way, that was founded by God-fearing men). After all, somebody had to defend God or else we'd lose Him for good, and then what would we do?

I'm not sure when it happened, but at some point I came to realize that God is big enough to defend himself. There was freedom in that thought for me, I guess because it made me feel secure, like God could handle it. Stuart Briscoe tells the story of a Royal Marine in the British army who demonstrated his faith by kneeling on the floor of his barrack to pray. The other men in the room, seeing that he was in prayer, threw their boots at him. The man, instead of defending God and scolding his bunkmates, cleaned their boots and returned them. What a beautiful picture of the way Jesus himself defended his character.

Charles Spurgeon, the great British preacher, once said, when asked if we should defend God, "Defend God?! Do you need to defend a lion? You don't defend God, you turn him loose!!" Turning God loose doesn't mean that we treat people like adversaries because they don't believe as we do. It means that we live lives of powerful impact that can't help but be noticed and respected. It means that we stop "doing" ministry and start "being" ministers. It means that we are moved and led by God, and that we rally around the revolutionary idea that we were made for a purpose and there is no greater cause than to live according to that purpose. We no more need to defend that than we need to defend our need to eat, for this purpose is as gnawing and natural to man as hunger.


Todd In China said...

I'm with you on this one, Steve. I think that was a leeson I had to learn before He felt I was ready to be brought here to Asia. Defend my faith, sure, but not against flesh and blood. They can't take it away. Defend God? He's MY defense! He's MY Strong Tower? ME defend HIM?

And Spurgeon's great remark reminds me of Lewis' about Aslan. "Dangerous? OF COURSE, He's dangerous... but He's GOOD." I wish I could more clearly and easily see how I can 'wash the boots' of those around me.

Jay said...

I was reading the story of Gideon in Judges today. It's interesting that Joash understood this about his deity, even though he was worshipping the pagan god Baal, but we have lost sight of this truth.

Denny Burk said...

I think you have a knack for writing, bro. I've thought that since you gave me that poem to read when we were still working at the Landry Center.

Yep, that's what I think.

Much luf,

Keato said...

wow. awesome post!
This reminds me of one of my favorite things about Jesus. He never responded to criticism like you would expect and always turned people upside-down with his response.
I don't feel like it is my responsibility to argue with people about God, I just hope that I can make them think about things that they don't normally think about.