This Sunday we are beginning a new sermon series called, ENCOUNTERS. Messages in this series will focus on powerful encounters people of faith have had with others who opposed their faith or who were indifferent to their faith. Obviously, this has a modern ring to it. Biblical people experienced many such encounters, and contemporary followers of Jesus will face many as well.
Sometimes the encounters come with a family member who chooses to embrace atheism or a religion other than Christianity. Other times it is at the workplace or in an environment where any talk of spiritual realities is unwelcome. Still more occasions for faith encounters come in school settings or governmental environments.
How are we to negotiate such encounters? The three words that come to my mind are with wisdom, boldness, and sensitivity.
Just for instance, the recent release from jail of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for her stand against gay marriage can certainly qualify as bold, but I think it falls short in the realm of wisdom and sensitivity. I don’t have time to go into all the specifics here, but I highly recommend an opinion by Michael Gearson, the author of Historic Conservatism. Published in the Washington Post, his piece is entitled, “Kim Davis is no Rosa Parks.” In it, he shows that this particular “encounter” lacks the wisdom and sensitivity that comes with seeing the big picture of faith and secular culture conflicts in America. The historic and faith perspective Gearson offers is refreshing and informative as we evaluate this particular encounter.
We will kick off the series with a message called “Who is the Lord?” This is the question asked by Pharaoh to Moses. The encounter between the two of them is epic. Out of that encounter came salvation and freedom. May it be so with us! When we are willing to wisely, boldly, and with sensitivity encounter our increasingly secular culture with the gospel, our hope and prayer is that salvation and freedom will be the result.
Whenever there are faith encounters, the crucial tipping point is always the question of identity. “Who is the Lord?” The answer to that question will give us the wisdom, boldness, and sensitivity we need to turn encounters into opportunities for faith.