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.