Powerfully Bold or Just Obnoxious?


The woman at the table beside me was loud in her slam. “No thank you, I’m a Christian!” The waiter looked a little stunned by her intensity and mumbled something indiscernible as he backed away from the table. I felt embarrassed.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not embarrassed to share my faith, to identify myself as a Christian, or to explain the gospel to people. But I am embarrassed when “Christianity” leaves a blow like a bully-club, or it sends out shockwaves leaving an awkward wake of silence in the aftermath. The gospel can bring conviction (and that can include silence), but the gospel is never obnoxious.

The gospel is offensive enough without us adding rude behavior to its message.

The message of the gospel requires conveying the truth that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. You can’t have a gospel message without including that truth. Who needs a Savior to redeem from sin, if there is no such thing as sin?

And who determines or can classify an act as “sin”? 

We all live under some kind of authority structure. We recognize something as a “standard of truth” and attempt to live by that. For those who believe there is no such thing as absolute truth, and find classifications like “sin” distasteful, they have placed themselves in the position as arbiter.

Arbiter: a person who has the sole or absolute power of judging or determining.

By stating that there is no such thing as absolute truth, they place themselves in the position of “determining or judging” that truth is relative rather than absolute. By placing themselves in the position of arbiter, they’ve actually set themselves up as “the standard of truth.” (Just like Eve did.) They operate as their own god whether they acknowledge that or not.

The self-determining arbiter makes moral judgments—even if they don’t use terms like “sin.” They use the word “choice” a lot, and focus on whether a choice is “best.” They exalt the word “choice” as the highest morality and see “personal rights” as superior to moral obligation. They frown on those who narrow the parameters of “choice” by living under what they consider to be an archaic and restrictive standard: Scripture.

If Scripture does not serve as your ultimate authority something else will.

God is my authority, but He has revealed Himself and His ways through this inspired document—Scripture. Scripture provides me with clear access to understand God’s standard of truth and morality. I can choose to reject that, choose to place something else in the position of authority over my life.

I can choose to be my own “god” (or arbiter). That’s what Eve did.

Now, let’s return to the lady who stunned the waiter with her intense “proclamation of faith.”

What is her standard of authority?

She claims that it is Christ . . . which would imply that His Word is her authority.

She may have the right authority or standard, but how is she using that standard?

If God’s Word is her authority, her treatment of others should be shaped by Scripture:

[box]Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Eph. 4:15)[/box]

[box]Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. (Col. 4:5–6)[/box]

[box]Words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious . . . (Eccl. 10:12)[/box]

If you have the opportunity to see the general public today, please be winsome, gracious, and kind. Let your words be salty with truth but also be gentle because of the grace you’ve received.

How you are interacting with others and the choices you are making reflects who sits in the position of “arbiter” in your life.

Who is the arbiter of your life?

Image courtesy of stockimages/

One Comment

  • Julie Musil

    I used to be my own arbiter, and I wasn’t very good at it. I’m learning to look to Him for answers in all things. It’s definitely a learning process.