HOPE BEYOND APOLOGY
1 Peter 3:14-16 But even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Never be afraid of their threats, and never get upset. Instead, exalt Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.
The Kingdom’s Gospel does not put forth an alternate view of reality. Rather, it bestows meaning and dignity upon the reality that often seems meaningless and not worthy of our efforts. The Gospel is forgiveness that graciously provides an opening to a real and genuine new future. Our presentation of Jesus the Christ must always resist the “let’s pretend” syndrome – let’s pretend that our time is collapsed into the first century, or let’s pretend that Jesus is among us as a twentieth-century man. The first “let’s pretend” is a regression that denies historical responsibility for this moment; the second ‘let’s pretend’ reduces the Lord to mythological figure who is put in service to our goals and ideals. Our message is never let’s pretend; it is rather: Here is what is reported, here is the evidence for it, here are the reasons for acknowledging its truth, and here are the consequences for ourselves and the world of which we are a part.
As Scripture scholars persistently tell us, it is noteworthy that the gospel accounts are not simply biographies of Jesus. Unlike the heroic literature about the Maximum Leaders of the world, the New Testament does not present Jesus as a moral model on which our lives are to be fashioned. Especially is this apparent in the writings of Paul, where scarcely a reference to the personality and character of Jesus is to be found. The purpose of the New Testament, as of our ministries, is to assert the good news that in this Jesus, who remains emphatically distanced from us by two thousand years, God was fully present and acting on our behalf in victory over his enemies and ours. The victory was manifest in his being raised from the dead, in which event alone is the justification for calling him Lord. On that basis we assert his sovereignty over all things – a sovereignty that is now disputed but will finally, we believe, be vindicated in his coming again in glory….
Freedom For Ministry by Richard John Neuhaus, pg.28-29