Our world is one awash in opinions. Many in our culture seem to have a nearly allergic reaction to certainty, especially when it concerns things of a moral or religious nature. Our culture applauds diversity and eschews exclusivity. It is also a place where certainty and commitment are both scarce and unwanted. Declarations of uncertainty—and even ignorance—are not merely commonplace; they are celebrated.
Sadly, the manner in which some Christians live their lives today share many points of similarity with the non-committal attitude prized by our culture. Rather than being willing to share the
reason for their hope with confidence (1 Peter 3:15), they offer their view as nothing more than one opinion among others. In some situations they may even feign ignorance, in order to escape
whatever derision or scorn that surely awaits them should they present biblical truth with any degree of certainty.
Commitment is the key difference between Christian and Christianesque. Our society is full of people who believe that Christianity is good and that the Bible is true, generally speaking. Yet they are wary of seeming intolerant or insensitive to the opinions of others. The apostle Paul takes a much stronger stand in his letter to the Romans, where he flatly states that Christians cannot conform to the world but must have their thinking utterly transformed (Romans 12:2). The genuine believer cannot have any part of our culture’s apprehension toward truth.
A story is told of the German poet Heinrich Heine. He was standing with a friend in front of a beautiful Gothic cathedral in France. As they stood admiring the building his friend asked, “Tell me, Heinrich, why can’t people build buildings like this anymore?” Heine replied, “People in those old times had convictions; we moderns only have opinions. And it needs more than an opinion to erect a Gothic cathedral.”
In order to accomplish anything truly great, we must be committed. We might think of the craftsmen who constructed the great cathedrals of Europe. They could work for the rest of their lives and never see the finished product. More importantly, they would painstakingly finish areas, like the backsides of beams and statues, that no human eye would ever see. Why? They had a total commitment to excellence. Offering a polished veneer was not enough.
Some people today will see strong Christian commitment as some kind of oddity, but the very strangeness of it invites their curiosity! David Hume was an 18th century philosopher in England, well-known for his writings against Christianity. A story is told that one day he happened to run into a friend who was hurrying along the London streets. He asked the fellow where he was going. Hume’s friend said he was off to hear George Whitfield preach. As a skeptic of all things Christian, he asked the man, “But surely you don’t believe what Whitfield preaches, do you?” The fellow responded, “No, I don’t, but he does!”
Living a life of commitment to Christ will naturally generate the interest of others around us. People will want to know why we act they way we do, why we speak the way we speak, and why it is that our lives demonstrate such noticeable distinctiveness. This is all to achieve the most important end in the Christian faith: to help us in our task of showing other paupers where to find the greatest treasure in the world.