No Retreat


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That’s the first “R” that Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in Michigan, wrote in his “The Three R’s of Christian Engagement in the Culture War.” [1] 
In the face of controversy and opposition, it’s always tempting to withdraw into friendlier confines. But working for the public good is part of loving our neighbors as ourselves. The pietistic impulse to simply focus on winning hearts and minds does not sufficiently appreciate the role of institutions and the importance of giving voice to truth in the public square. Conversely, the progressive impulse to stay quiet for fear that we’ll invalidate our witness is a misguided strategy to win over the world by letting them win. [2] 
If we love our neighbor, we will give “voice to truth in the public square”. If we keep silent, the world wins and we have let them win. It’s like losing a game by default because we did not even bother to show up.

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The prophet Jeremiah almost gave up. People mocked him and his message. Time and again, he got tempted to shut up.
I have become a joke; everyone makes fun of me all day long. Every time I speak, I shout. I am always shouting about violence and destruction. I tell the people about the message I received from the Lord, but this only brings me insults. The people make fun of me all day long. Sometimes I say to myself, “I will forget about the Lord. I will not speak anymore in his name.” But then his message becomes like a burning fire inside me, deep within my bones. I get tired of trying to hold it inside of me, and finally, I cannot hold it in. (Jeremiah 20:7b-9, New Century Version. Emphasis added.)
According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “To feel something in one’s bones meant to feel it intensely”. [3] The prophet felt the message intensely and he cannot remain silent. He spoke up.

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Mockery is a tactic employed against us online and offline. I myself have been called narrow-minded and even a bigot. The world wants us to go with the flow. To just nod in agreement. Or else, we would be labeled intolerant. As one Christian apologist lamented, “Why is it that when I say I’m right you call me ‘intolerant,’ but when you say you’re right you’re just right?”

But we cannot retreat. We have to swim against the flow. We cannot remain silent. It is because we love our neighbor so much we have to speak the truth.

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“Engage” Step
Think of the time when you dared to tell a friend the truth about himself or herself at the risk of your friendship with him or her. What did you learn from it? If you were in your friend’s place, would you rather that he or she remained silent? Why? Reflect on Proverbs 27:5-6.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Would you rather be wounded by a friend or kissed by an enemy? 

[1] Kevin DeYoung (3 August 2012), “The Three R’s of Christian Engagement in the Culture War,” The Gospel Coalition, retrieved from http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/.

[2] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[3] Charles H. Dyer, “Jeremiah” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, Eds. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, 1985), 1154.

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