Thursday, September 13, 2007

Truth and the world next door

by Ricky Alcantar @

I’m committed to a humble orthodoxy because the world next door to me desperately needs it.

A few nights each week I step back onto my college campus. Students swarm back and forth between buildings and the parking lots: Hipsters in tight jeans and American Apparel shirts. Working dads loosening their ties. Single moms on the phone with daycare. Perfect Britney with perfect makeup and perfect boyfriends. All of them broken and bleeding inside.

My college campus is a place where in nearly every classroom a different version of truth (lowercase “t” is taught passionately) and the only thing they agree on is that there is no Truth (capital “T”). And in the church today we’re struggling with how to respond to a world like that. We’ve realized that they don’t want to listen to us. So what do we do? What do I do as I relate to the students and professors around me?

Humble orthodoxy serves as a framework for representing truth to the world next door.

I have to resist my inclination to change my message just a little bit to make it more palatable. I have to remind myself the Truth that saved people 2,000 years ago still has the power to save today. If I succeed in reaching out to those around me but, in the end, change the message that can save them I’ve accomplished nothing. Only the Truth of the gospel can save. Only the Truth of God’s word can bring light into our dark work.

And if I really believe the Truth myself, then it should have a radical effect on my life. After encountering it I shouldn’t look the same. The truth that I encounter in God’s word should change everything from the way I approach my career, to the way I approach relationships, to the way I spend my free weeknights, to the way I act in a study group.

But too often when I understand a little bit of truth my tendency is is to want to beat people over the head with Truth. I want to win an argument in class. I want to be right. 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (ESV). Sinfully, I want to make that verse into a mandate to correct everyone I encounter without caring for their souls. My “defense” starts to be sinfully offensive.

I too often forget that the rest of that same passage in Peter says, “Yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16). Yes, the Bible says, hold to the Truth but do it in a way that reflects a changed life. When I proclaim the gospel message arrogantly my life and words contradict the very message I’m trying to proclaim.

It’s hard. I often fail. But my hope and confidence is not in that I can somehow will my arrogance away, but in that God is constantly at work in me, transforming me to be more and more like his Son. So by the grace of God I’ll continue to soak up Truth, continue to struggle, and continue to become more like Christ each day. With God’s help I can continue to strive to humbly represent truth to the world around me.

Ricky Alcantar is the managing editor of and an intern at Vista New Life Church in El Paso, TX. This week the blog contributors are continuing to share why they’re committed to a humble orthodoxy.

No comments: