Hide It Under a Bushel? No!
We are living in some strange days, are we not? The news saying one thing our friends saying another. One’s individual conscience may be saying one thing, the social conscience might be saying something very different. What are we to do? What voice ought we to obey especially when there are so many voices?
In the mid-1980’s, famous Christian philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, wrote an article entitled, Advice to Christian Philosophers that I believe applies to us all today. In this article he noted that philosophy students in general seek to be like their mentors, like those they look up to. They care about the things their colleagues care about and write about those same things. So much of these student’s lives revolves around the next big philosophically interesting problem. But is this the case for the Christian?
For Christians, are we simply concerned with how to be fathers or mothers? No. We are concerned with how to be Christian fathers and mothers, and the same goes for being students and teachers and employers and employees and friends and the list goes on and on. How then are we to be Christian fill-in-the-blank wherever we are in our lives at this time?
I believe Plantinga offers a course of action in three parts which speaks to us all: “First, [we] must display more autonomy-more independence of the rest of the philosophical world. Second, [we] must display more integrity - integrity in the sense of integral wholeness, or oneness, or unity, being all of one piece…And necessary to these two is a third: Christian courage, or boldness, or strength, or perhaps Christian self-confidence.”  So let’s unpack this a bit.
How are we to be Christian in our world? First, it is time we displayed a bit more autonomy. As Christians this world is not our home. We are first and primarily citizens of a heavenly kingdom, where the King of the cosmos rules. This is to say then that we view the world differently, think about the world differently, and behave differently and we do this by looking into the perfect law of liberty, the Scriptures. Treat the Scripture as a set of glasses and begin to look at the world through those glasses.
Second, Christians must live the perfect life, the complete life. Christianity is not just church on Sunday though it includes church on Sunday. Christianity is not just giving a few bucks to the beggar, though it includes such charity. Christianity is a new life, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. How do you think? Is every thought brought into captivity to Christ? How do you act? When you eat or drink do you do so to the glory of God? Do you love God and your neighbor? Who is your neighbor? How we answer these questions and others like them speaks to whether or not you and I lead an integrated Christian lives.
Third, and finally, we are called to a Christian boldness. The psalmist reminds us in Psalm 27:1, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life’ of whom shall I be afraid?” I was told by an Airborne chaplain that when the team jumps the chaplain jumps first. I mean, if the guy who says he has God on his side won’t jump, why should I? In similar manner, if the Christian cannot be bold, then why should the godless? If the Christian cannot have peace and safety in the face of fear then why expect that of those who lean on themselves alone for peace and safety?
These are strange and in many ways difficult times. Now is not the time light your candle and put it under a bushel. Rather, it is time to put it on a candlestick so that it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let the light of Christian autonomy, integrity, and boldness shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
Peter Van Kleeck Jr. Ph.D.
Informative. Provocative. Compelling.