Today we are beginning a new sermon series on how to live a life of uncommon courage. To start off this series we’re going to look at cultivating the courage to stand for truth. A lot of Christians have a hard time standing up for what they believe. This isn’t a new problem for believers. In fact, it’s a problem that goes all the way back to when Jesus first started preaching and teaching. The Bible says, “No one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public.” (John 7:13) They froze up instead of speaking up. Even the apostle Paul struggled with having the courage to speak openly about Jesus. The Bible says, “One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid; keep on speaking; do not be silent.’” (Acts 18:9) He was ready to give up, but God wasn’t about to let that happen. He needed Paul to be his mouthpiece in the world, to keep telling others about Jesus. So he came to Paul in a vision to encouraged him.
We all need to hear God saying to us: “Don’t be afraid; keep on speaking; do not be silent!” We cannot let others silence us. There is too much at stake. Jesus said, “If you stand up for me against world opinion, I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32) Jesus is saying you stand up for me on earth and I’ll stand up for you in heaven. I want that to happen for you and I want that to happen for me. What I don’t want to happen for you or me is what Jesus says in the next verse, “But if anyone denies me here on earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 We’ve got to learn to stand up for truth.
We hear the phrase “politically correct” used a lot these days. Political correctness is a way of thinking about life and the world that is often in direct conflict with the truths we are given in God’s Word. You may consider yourself a Christian, but you may not be living with a Christian life and world view. As Christians we can be profoundly influenced by the worldviews of those around us. It’s almost hypnotic the influence these competing worldviews have on us. If we are going to have courage to stand for truth, then we need to have a Biblically informed life and worldview. We need to understand the ways that a Christian worldview differs from an anti-Christian worldview. So what I want us to do this morning is to look at THE MOST POPULAR ANTI-CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEWS that dominate our culture.
THE FIRST IS MATERIALISM. Materialism is the worldview that says what matters most is money. For people who hold this worldview, life is all about making money and accumulating money. Their highest priorities are living a comfortable lifestyle, having a high-paying job, traveling for pleasure and owning a large home. They measure success by how much they are worth financially. It’s really a very foolish way to live because we come into the world with nothing and we will leave this world with nothing. One thing you will never see is a hearse pulling a U-Haul. You can’t take it with you. To spend your life trying to make more money and buy more stuff is really a waste of time.
Jesus teaches a very different worldview than materialism. In Luke, chapter 12, he says, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15) He’s saying: your worth is not determined by your wealth. The greatest things in life are not things. A lot of people don’t understand that. They live their whole life chasing after more money only to find that it never is enough. They’re never satisfied. All their striving and chasing after the “good life” is not helping them to find satisfaction and contentment.
The Bible has a lot to say about finding contentment and happiness but getting a materialist to hear that message is a real challenge. J. D. Rockefeller was at one point the world's richest man and first ever American billionaire. When a reporter asked him, “How much money is enough?” He responded, “Just a little bit more.” That’s a materialist. Money is his god.
THE SECOND popular anti-Christian worldview IS HEDONISM. Hedonism has pleasure as it’s god. Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure. For the hedonist, seeking pleasure is what life is all about. If it feels good they do it. Drugs, alcohol, sex, food, travel, sports, whatever brings pleasure. In 1972 Luther Ingram released a song titled “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right.” It rose to the top of the R&B chart and stayed there for four weeks. It spoke for a whole generation of young hedonists. They didn’t care what was right, they just cared about what felt good. Seven years earlier, in 1965 the Rolling Stones released a song titled “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” I guess Ingram and most of my generation weren’t listening. The end result of hedonism is an inability to be satisfied. Solomon tried to warn us three thousand years ago when he wrote, “Are you addicted to thrills? What an empty life! The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.” (Proverbs 21:17) Why? Because, just like the materialist, it’s never enough.
The Biblical life and worldview is very different from hedonism. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews we read, “Moses chose to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” (Hebrews 11:25) If sin wasn’t fun nobody would do it. Is it fun to eat things that are bad for you? Yep. Is it fun to stay up really late even though you’ve got to get up early the next morning? Yep. There are a lot of things in life that aren’t good for you, but they’re a whole lot of fun at the time. The Bible acknowledges that there is pleasure in sin, but it warns: sinful pleasure is temporary. Sinful pleasure is fleeting and then there is the price to pay. The Bible says, “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:8) We can’t have it both ways. The Bible says, “Do not follow the crowd in doing [what is] wrong.” (Exodus 23:2)
THE THIRD anti-Christian worldview IS INDIVIDUALISM. Individualism says, “What I want is most important. What I want comes first.” Individualism has self as its god. It is a self-absorbed and self-centered life; a “me first” mentality. Those who hold this worldview have as their motto: “I’ll do what I want when I want and the way I want.” Individualism creates a culture of narcissism: “It’s all about me.” They think the world revolves around them. They are completely self-absorbed. No one else really matters but them.
Here’s the thing: God didn’t create you for you. God didn’t create you so you could waste your life completely focused on yourself. God created you for himself, to be in a relationship with him, putting him first. The Bible says, “It is selfish and stupid to think only of yourself.” (Proverbs 18:1) You were created to glorify God, not yourself. You were created to live in community and care for others, not just yourself. The Bible says, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:4-5) We are to strive to become like Christ in our attitude, in the way we think, in our life and worldview. And his attitude is one of service and sacrifice on behalf of others.
THE FOURTH anti-Christian worldview IS COLLECTIVISM, which is also called SOCIALISM. Those who hold this worldview see the government as their god. They turn to the government to take care of them and provide their every need from the cradle to the grave. But God did not create governments to be our god. The Bible says, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) So pay your taxes, but remember you belong first to God. When you become overly dependent on the government, you lose your freedom to stand in opposition to the government when it tries to prohibit us from doing what God commands us to do. The Bible tells us of just such a situation in Acts, chapter 5. It says, “’We [the government] gave you strict orders not to teach in this name…[meaning the name of Jesus].’ Then Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” (Acts 5:28-29) Suppose our government passed a law prohibiting us from attending church or from sharing our faith with others. Then the government would be in violation of God’s law and we would have to disobey the government in order to stand up for our faith.
People who don’t know God try to make government their god. Why? Because they don’t have any higher authority to turn to for help to meet their needs. So they make government their god. It becomes the highest thing they can think of to make the world a better place. Politics is the religion of people who don’t know God. They treat it as everything. But governments are not to be our all in all. God has instituted governments to do three things: to protect freedom, insure justice, and preserve peace. That’s it.
A Christians worldview is supported and informed by the Bible. It is a Biblical worldview. All of Scripture is to inform and shape a Christian’s worldview. It takes courage to live by a Christian worldview. It takes courage to stand for truth. So let’s look at three of the most controversial parts of a Christian worldview. These are the truths we need courage to speak up about because they are UNPOPULAR CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEWS.
THE FIRST controversial Christian worldview IS THE SANCTITY OF LIFE. All of human life is sacred, from the womb to the grave. The Bible teaches us that God has a purpose for every unborn child. God has a purpose for every human life. We are created in his image and therefore we are sacred even in the womb. The Psalmist declared, “You, Lord, made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb… You workmanship is marvelous… You watched over me as I was being formed in utter seclusion… in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book and every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:13-16) A developing child in the womb is not a fetus. It is not a blob of tissue. It is a person, made by God for God. As Christians we are commanded to protect those who cannot protect themselves. We are to speak on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.
The sanctity of human life is not a popular worldview, but it is the truth and we are to have the courage to stand for this truth. Every life is precious. If this is not part of your understanding of life, then you are not living with a Christian worldview.
The SECOND is even more controversial. It is THE SANCTITY OF SEX. And it’s real simple. SEX IS ONLY FOR MARRIAGE. The God who created us, also established the parameters for sex. Remember, it is God who created sex. He could have created reproduction with no pleasure attached to it. God created those nerve endings. It was God’s idea. And it is God’s gift for those who are married to one another. It is designed to increase the bond between those who are married to one another. Sex is sacred. It is designed for the creation of all of us, and to bring husband and wife together, and to be a model of the union between Christ and the church. The Bible says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4) What’s immoral? Premarital sex is immoral. Extramarital sex is immoral. Same-sex sex is immoral. Attraction is not immoral. It just means you’re still alive. It’s taking action that is a sin. Like any sin, we need to confess it, seek God’s forgiveness and rely upon God for strength to live as he would have us live.
THE THIRD and most controversial Christian worldview IS THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE. The Bible tells us that God intends marriage to be between one woman and one man for life. He even made the body parts to fit together and they have a purpose in fitting together. One man and one woman for life—that’s God’s design for marriage. The Bible says, “From the beginning, the Creator made male and female. This is the reason a man is to leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two become one flesh. They are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6) This is the Christian worldview and it has been for two thousand years. It is the Biblical worldview that those who follow Jesus are to follow. And yet you will need courage to stand for this truth today. Just ask Steve and Bridgett Tennes who run the Country Mill Farm in East Lancing Michigan. Last year they were asked by someone on the farm’s Facebook page about their view of marriage. They replied that they believed in traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Not long afterward they received a letter from the city of East Lancing asking them to voluntarily stop coming to the East Lancing Farmers Market because of their offensive view of marriage. The next year when they applied for a permit to participate in the farmer’s market, they were denied one. They never imagined they would be penalized for their Christian faith. The Alliance Defense Fund is now representing them in court and it is taking great courage for them to stand up for their faith.
How do we get the kind of courage that can stand up to anti-Christian worldviews? How do we get the kind of courage to speak up for what we believe? HOW CAN WE LIVE WITH UNCOMMON COURAGE?
FIRST, we need to ACCEPT GOD’S WORD AS OUR HIGHEST AUTHORITY. It is the only source of truth that will never lie to us. It will always tell us the truth. It will never change. If we are going to be people of uncommon courage we need to build our life and worldview on the solid rock of God’s Word that never changes. In the Bible it says, “God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence.” (Heb. 6:18) (NLT) Courage comes from believing, from holding on to the promises of God.
SECOND, we need to PERSONALLY SPEND TIME WITH JESUS. The more time you spend with Jesus the more courage you’re going to have. He will fill you with wisdom and strength. In Acts, chapter 4, it says, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and could see that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) The more time you spend with Jesus, the more courage you’re going to have. He fills you with courage. It says, “After they had prayed...they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke God's word without fear.” (Acts 4:31) (NCV)
There are great rewards, great benefits to being a person of courage, not just for this life, but for the life to come. The Bible says, “Do not lose your courage, because it brings with it a great reward.” (Hebrews 10:35) (TEV)