Contact with and exposure to controversies as youth of the covenant of God are inevitable experiences in that glorious state into which that youth has been called and placed. The surety of this encounter obtains also with respect to adults, of course, who are by no virtue of their own also placed into that relation of friendship with the Living God. We stress at this point, however, that reality as it pertains to you, the Protestant Reformed youth. In fact, because you are somewhat younger and lack much of the knowledge and understanding at this time, which your parents have received through the years, it may be said that controversy is a more difficult experience for you than for them. But this does not mean that you have not experienced controversy or that you have little knowledge of some of it characteristics. In the actual experience of your life, it involves much more than the above “contact with and exposure to controversy,” does it not? Perhaps it is more accurate and significant to say that the Protestant Reformed youth of today becomes, ipso facto, quite directly involved in such controversy.
We must assume certain premises at this time. First, you are the children of God who are then the friends of God. Secondly, therefore you know Him in your soul, and you love Him and His Word. Thirdly, then you are also desirous to witness (speak and live) in accord with His Revelation and contrary to all that may oppose it. These things must be remembered in our present considerations.
Controversy, we have said, is inevitable. But what is controversy? It may be defined, generally and for our consideration here, as a discussion of argumentive opposition to a given thought or concept, especially in the doctrines of our view of God, His revelation, and our life in this world. Or, the word and life view of the Protestant Reformed faith, if you please, comes under dispute and attack, either from within or from without, and then in a healthy and vigorous church, controversy arises.
And Scripture teaches us that such will be the case. First, the openly godless always flout the cause of Christ in the midst of the world. Secondly, there are within (the sphere of) the militant church the “fifth columnist,” the Judas, the enemy within the gate, who are, though in the church, not truly of it. In due season, of course, this element is always exposed and made manifest. Finally, there is within the hearts of each of us, according to that old nature of sin and the flesh, opposition to the very doctrines which we hold dear and of which we testify that they are the faithful interpretations of the Holy Scriptures of God.
Therefore, we can conclude that where there is no controversy concerning the principles of the faith, there also we find little or no evidence of those principles, but rather a sickly unanimity which must and does lead to spiritual ruin. (cf. John 15:18-27)
This, however, is not a plea for controversy. We do not and may not desire controversy for its own sake! Rather, we purpose to warn against the deadly spirit of apathy which oftentimes prevails in the presence of controversy. Further, we purpose to encourage Zion’s youth to be vigilant and valiant soldiers, enjoined to be witnesses of the heritage which God has committed to our trust.
Apathy is a want of feeling, a lack of passion, emotion, excitement and interest. It is an almost total indifference to what normally appeals to our interest. Apathy is the “So what?”, the “Don’t bother me!”, the “I’m not concerned!” over against the inroads of darkness into the sphere of the church on earth and its attacks on our heritage, namely the TRUTH which has been committed to our trust. Apathy is the “easy” road. Apathy is sickly. Apathy is deadly! Unchecked, apathy always destroys its proponents.
Remember: Apathy is symptomatic.
You will and must engage in controversy in this life. The “easy”, “peaceful”, and “go along with the majority” road is one which is strictly condemned in the Word. However, we may not and we cannot be engaged in such controversy fruitfully if our attitudes are basically apathetic. When the principles of the faith are controverted, it is axiomatic that you as the youth of the Protestant Reformed Churches have an interest, become excited, and become passionate in the matter, which involves your God, His revelation, His Truth, because He has so revealed those things in your souls. The converse of apathy, in addition to interest and zeal, is based on knowledge and awareness! That knowledge and awareness is given through diligent study of the Word, prayerful meditation, and devotion to the Lord, all wrought through His grace in your hearts. A glory is yours, Protestant Reformed youth! God has given the brilliance of His light. Read of that glory in Isaiah 60, beginning:
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
We believe that such is peculiarly ours, do we not? (I do not say exclusively). Then when (not if) you are attacked for your beliefs, your concepts, and your doctrines, may you take comfort and joy, and may you receive strength for the conflict from His who along is able to sustain:
“…and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” I Peter 3:14, 15.