Paul D. Miller:
Free speech is a hotly debated topic in America right now. There are growing concerns that appreciation for it is in decline. Would you say there is a biblical defense of free speech that should motivate Christians to defend such a principle? Second, why would you argue for the legitimacy of free speech against concerns that free speech may harm the dignity of individuals in society?
Joni Eareckson Tada:
The vast majority of suicides of elderly or terminally ill people or those with disabilities occur quietly within homes and institutions, far from the media, the courts, and the public eye. These are hurting, despondent people who never make the news and only rarely appear on your Facebook feed. These are the ones living a quiet desperation: The woman with cancer, seesawing in and out of remission. The young boy in a semi-comatose condition, making eye contact, half smiling, and then drifting away again. The carpenter who broke his neck falling from a second-story window and now, abandoned by his wife, lives in a nursing home.
It reminds me of the words of Jim Elliott, the missionary to Ecuador who was martyred in his late 20s: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
What you cannot keep is your life. But what you cannot lose is whatever you have staked in God’s eternal kingdom. The one thing you can be certain will happen is that you will stand before God and answer as to whether or not you have lived out his purposes and leveraged your life and resources for his kingdom.
When Jude wrote his New Testament letter to one of the early Christian churches, he urged the members to fight to protect and defend the faith—or, to use his language, he called them to contend earnestly for it. “Certain persons” who claimed to be believers, had “crept” into the church. They looked like ordinary Christians, and they settled into the body like ordinary Christians did, but they had joined the group for shady reasons. We don’t know the details, but it seems that both their actions, which were immoral, and their teachings, which were false, attacked “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
Jesus’ point here is one of allegiance. When we are following Him, then everything else not only takes a back seat; everything else is irrevocably changed. All our priorities. All our expenditures. And, yes, all our relationships. Our allegiance to Jesus is of the highest order so much so that everything else revolves around it.
What, then, does it look like to “hate” our families in this sense, especially when we love our families? Let me offer three suggestions.
Here’s where we so easily take a wrong turn. Wherever did we get the notion that the call to repentance is opposed to the championing of grace? When did truth and grace get separated? Or repentance and faith?
A favorite from the archives:
It’s easy (and tempting at times) to look at the world and consider a “hunker down in the bunker” mentality. The world, after all, is a pretty messed up place. Western nations seem to be racing back to the decadence and depravity of 1st century Rome. Terrorists are destroying cultural artifacts and murdering people throughout the Middle East. It’s no surprise that there are some who are fully expecting God to rain down fire any moment—and even more who are surprised that he hasn’t already!