Today, I met with my cousins for tea, and the conversation soon took a turn towards the spiritual scene of religion. They were all non-Christians and one of them started commenting about how ‘People get touched in the forehead and suddenly speak in tongues. They probably fake it cos everyone around them are doing it’.
I was stumped. I sat there, frozen with a stiff, faint smile. And I thought ‘What do I say? What do I do?’
Another cousin ‘Ya… My parents come back from the Buddhist temple and I hear stories about how they do similar things like that.’
When I got back home, I shared this with my mother and she asked ‘Why didn’t you defend your faith and beliefs?’
So I stood there and reflected. There were many thoughts running through my mind? Did my silence indicate fear? Was I supposed to defend my faith in every situation and every argument? I analysed the situation that I had been faced with earlier on that day – I was a Christian surrounded by non-Christians, a few of whom had Tibetan Buddhist parents who claimed that they underwent similar spiritual experiences. Was I supposed to assert the truth of Christianity and reveal the falseness and darkness of another religion? Was it the right time and place?
To answer these questions, I was brought back to the time when a lawyer (and pastor) in a law firm talked Gideon of the bible:
25 That same night the Lord said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. 26 Then build a proper kind of altar to the Lord your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.”
27 So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord told him. But because he was afraid of his family and the townspeople, he did it at night rather than in the daytime.
28 In the morning when the people of the town got up, there was Baal’s altar, demolished, with the Asherah pole beside it cut down and the second bull sacrificed on the newly built altar!
At first glance, it looked like Gideon was a coward. God commanded Gideon to destroy his father’s statue of Baal. Although He knew that the Lord was with him, he chose to tear it down in the middle of the night when no one was watching.
Yet, was that really cowardice? In analysing the situation that Gideon was in, it would have been very dangerous to tear the altar down in broad daylight. This was his own father’s altar. His father’s heart was not ready. His tribe was not ready. Gideon was young. Was it really safe for him to do so in broad daylight?
The lawyer offered another perspective – wisdom.
Sometimes, being wise means that you do not do the things that the world values as courage. Wisdom does not mean you doggedly and blindly go running into the areas of contention, darkness and sin in the name of Christianity and evangelism. Running straight to the streets and holding placards about God and judgment is seldom wise or courageous. Frequently participating in an LGBT debate is also not wise. And sometimes, sharing the gospel with a colleague at the wrong place and wrong time is not a wise thing do to either.
When you do things that you think is brave, but have no conviction or calling to do, you cannot call it bravery or valiance. Impulse without preparation or calling is not courage.
Therefore, I urge us to remind ourselves that it is not necessary to enter ourselves into every controversial debate and issue. Indeed, the world is becoming more confusing, and the world is moving away from Christian values and steering towards limitless liberalism, and it seems like we can only be good Christians by defending our faith all the time. However, our input may sometimes aggravate the tense atmosphere, hardening more hearts and debasing our less-than-prepared arguments, especially when we have not clearly been led by God to do those things.
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless. Proverbs 14:16