, Muskogee, OK

November 1, 2012

Fort Faith: Christians must send a clear message

By Barrett Vanlandingham

— We all know that the phrase “Trick or treat!” really means “May I have some candy?”  But most kids (wisely, in this case) just stick with tradition so nobody will think they’re strange, right?  Besides, that’s what their parents told them to say.  

And while this way of thinking is fine when it comes to filling our bags with candy, this is not such a good way to carry out our spiritual walk.  Christians need to be clear about what we believe and why we believe it.  After all, we may only get one shot at saving a soul.

We live in a culture in which many believe anything goes just as long as their personal rights are not immediately invaded.  The problem is that most everyone is connected in some way with others. And so how we act on our beliefs not only affects us, but other people, too.

A survey just released by Pew Forum says that nearly one out of five people has no religious affiliation.  That is 19-percent of Americans, up from 15 percent in 2008, and up from six percent in 1990.  Oddly enough, two-thirds of the 19 percent say they believe in God.

To me, what is scary is the influence the devil has over our culture even though four out of five Americans actually claim to be people of faith.  Maybe it’s because only 58 percent of Americans say religion is very important in their lives.  By the way, that number is reportedly double that of many European nations.

As this trend continues, opposition to Christian beliefs in the coming years will be much greater than anything we’ve seen in our lifetime.  It will become increasingly important for Christians to know and understand their Bibles, and how to clearly defend their faith.

In the first century, Christians knew a lot about persecution.  The ruling leaders refused to believe the apostles’ teachings about Jesus even after witnessing firsthand supernatural miracles!  

In Acts 4, Peter and John told about the resurrected Christ. They also healed a man who was known by everyone in Jerusalem to be crippled.  Peter gave credit to Jesus, and said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  Hope is found only in Jesus.

Now that is an unmistakably clear message.  May God bless each of us with opportunities this week to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and be a witness for Christ to someone who is in a lost condition.  That will be the greatest treat of all. Have a great week!

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or