“But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him [God] or speak anymore in His name,’ Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in and I cannot endure it.” ~Jeremiah 20:9
This blog is an admonition for Christians worldwide to band together and stand for the truth! The fear of persecution, name-calling, imprisonment, or even death should not silence us. We must have a strong enough relationship with God that our backbone is as strong as reinforced steel. Where there is a casual relationship with God, you will also find a weak backbone. In these tumultuous times, we cannot afford to give up or to give in. Although it seems the whole world is against us and our convictions, we must never back down or be intimidated.
I was also inspired to write this article as a result of a lifetime of seeing so many people misunderstand the motives of true Christians. Granted, some call themselves “Christian” but are very far from it; but, for the genuine child of God, it seems that the world has us all wrong (which is to be expected). We get accused of hate speech, of being intolerant, old-fashioned, close-minded, homophobic… you name it. Personally, I have lost “friends” and gained enemies for standing up for God’s Word. I’ve also been called names, publically demeaned among my peers, misunderstood, and shunned. Although this is such a light form of persecution, I am willing to take it for the sake of Jesus and His truths. Preacher, A.W. Tozer, once said: “Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather, he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over.”
May 2, 2013 was America’s National Day of Prayer. The chairman for this event, Greg Laurie, stated: “They do not want me to pray. They describe me as ‘homophobic’ and so forth. How can you deal with such a situation? We’re in a time in our country now where I’m attacked because I believe what the Bible teaches…If people want to make it all about that I’m not going to back down. In the immortal words of the great theologian Tom Petty, ‘I won’t back down,’ I won’t. I’m not going to apologize.” We must never back down or apologize for following scripture. Persecution in any form comes as no surprise, taking into consideration the moral depravity of this world in which we live. If you are enduring persecution, please take comfort in Jesus’ words. He said:
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scripture: ‘They hated me without cause.’” (John 15:18-25)
It is true; Christians are often hated without cause. If you had a room filled with Christians and one lone sinner, the sinner would likely feel very awkward and uncomfortable. There is a spiritual clashing. There may also be a feeling of guilt on the part of the sinner – since light exposes darkness. Even though the Christians in the room may be very warm and welcoming, the sinner will still feel ill at ease around them and all of their “God-talk”. The sinner may construct thoughts in his/her head such as, “They think they are perfect” or “They think they are better than me.” In actuality, the Christians are not thinking that at all. They are more likely to be thinking, “How can I show God’s love and help this person” or “I want to be sure to make him/her feel welcomed” or even, “I mean him/her no harm, but I need to share the truth so that they can be set free.” Even though the Christians in the room will strongly disagree with the sinner on most moral topics, it is not the Christians’ plot to harm or hate the sinner; none whatsoever. I can say this is the case with genuine Christians because I am a Christian. We all know that we were just as lost as the sinner before Jesus saved us; and that none of us are worthy because of our own doings. Ephesians 2:8-9 states: “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Now that we have been enlightened with truth, we love to share it with others; it’s in our nature, now. I like how one fellow blogger put it. She said, “Remember, you are just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”
Don’t Be Influenced by the World
As time marches on, morals have declined. In years past, homosexuality was a shameful and rare thing; now it is praised. Killing the unborn for the sake of convenience would have been an evil thing to have even thought about; nowadays, politicians fight for this and call it “freedom of choice”. Everything has been renamed and so neatly packaged as to be politically-correct and as non-offensive as possible.
Sadly, this is not only the case in the world, but the world has influenced some churches! I am not suggesting that we name-call and close off our compassion toward the sinner – no way, that would be awful; but, we must speak the truth and not sugar-coat it or avoid teaching/preaching on relevant topics. It is foreseeable that people will not want to hear the truth; however, it is only the truth of God’s Word that will set them free!
Revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, once said, “When there is something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it legalism.” Unfortunately, so many churches only want to teach the light, fluffy, feel-good stuff in order to avoid dips in attendance or offending people. However, the truth is bound to offend those believing lies. Scripture even refers to Christ as a “rock of offence”. 1st Peter 2:7-8 states: “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” We don’t purposely try to be offensive; but in the event we are, it is only because evil is being exposed and it makes the evil uncomfortable.
As Christians, we must not be lax in our responsibility to reach the lost. Pastor Carter Conlon of Times Square Church said it so well when he said, “One of the deepest problems we face is we have an absolutely lazy generation of Christianity. People coming to church so lazy that all they want to do is be given a piece of cake and a cup of coffee so they can put their feet on the altar rail and just continue to be lazy…even in the house of God. No reverence, no fear of God, no sense of understanding of what this is all about, no armor, no battle, no prayer life, no prayer meeting… nothing!”
A Backwards World
On April 29, 2013, NBA player Jason Collins announced that he was gay. President Barack Obama said, “I couldn’t be prouder of him” and gave him a personal phone call telling him how brave he was. Many other celebrities and dignitaries offered their support to Collins for “coming out of the closet.” His followers on Twitter grew by roughly 81,500 people or more. Plus, he and his family were immediately scheduled for an interview with Oprah. A backwards world, indeed.
No matter who congratulates sin and endorses going against scripture, we must stand firm and not waver on topics the Bible is very clear about. In the book of 1st Corinthians 6, the Bible plainly states that people in sin (including homosexuality) will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, scripture says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” This is exactly what is happening, and it is a woeful thing.
I heard a group of fellow Christians conversing over gay rights. Someone said, “It is ironic that the group screaming tolerance the loudest, is the most intolerant of Christians.” Someone else said, “People also need to learn the root word “phobia” as in “homophobia”. Phobia means fear. Most Christians do not FEAR homosexuals, and most of us don’t HATE them either, but apparently at some point disagreeing with someone began to mean you hate them.” The Bible is God’s final answer – He won’t change His mind and accept sinful lifestyles.
I have also noticed another trend lately… Worldly people (sinners) who try to act as experts on scripture and judge Christians by a standard of perfection and/or by old covenant laws. When they find them eating pork or wearing mixed linens, for example, they claim that we are hypocritical to the teachings of the Bible. They condemn and judge us, claiming that we endorse violence and slavery (which is entirely untrue). Yet, if we take a stand against sin (such as homosexuality or drunkenness, for example) the sinners get up in arms and cry, “Don’t judge us!” Then, they accuse us of hate speech. But, let me make this crystal clear; when we teach against sin, we are only trying to show love and help the sinner so that he/she will not go to Hell. However, 99.9% of the time, they cry, “Don’t judge! You’re supposed to show love!” However, wouldn’t you agree that warning sinners of their trajectory toward Hell and trying to point them toward Heaven is quite a loving thing we could do? Granted, there is a way to approach such things with love – but never confuse boldness for lack of love.
We’re Only Trying to Help
The reason we cry out against sin is because we know sin leads to heartache, death, and Hell. It’s not like we are getting paid under the table to further our own agenda. In fact, many Christians are killed for their beliefs. I most assuredly can say that there have been way more Christians die for their beliefs than atheists. Christians are not like radical Islamist who die as a badge of honor to a false religion; the Christian martyr dies for the truth. Jesus even laid down His life for us! “Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). It is God’s agenda that we care about. We put ourselves aside to further God’s agenda. However, when sinners try to push their agendas, it is selfishly to drag others down to their level so they don’t feel as guilty about their sin or to try and get a “jab” at our Savior. Do you see the difference? Not all sinful people try to make “converts” out of others and bring them into sin; nonetheless, the sinner (no matter how moral) is still in need of a Savior. Just like Pastor Mark Driscoll once said: “Sin is not just your deeds and misdeeds; it is whether or not you live in loving relationship with the God who made you. Any of life that is lived apart from God is sinful – whether moral or immoral.”
Christians are often accused of judging; but this “judging” word is highly misunderstood. (Please see my blog on Judgment Vs. Correction) Allow me to give an example:
Suppose you are driving through a neighborhood and you see a house engulfed in flames. Through the front window, you can scarcely see what appears to be a person inside. No one is around to help, so you get out of your car and rush toward the house, putting your own welfare in danger for someone you don’t even know. You don’t know how the fire got started, if the person inside set it themselves, or any details about them personally; you simply value life and don’t want to see anyone perish when you can help lead them away from danger. So, you shout urgently through the flames, “Get out of there, any way you can! The house is about to collapse!” But the person inside stands with his arms folded and looks away. You keep shouting, “Get out of there! There is a path to the window – jump through the window so I can help you!” Then you notice the back of his shirt catches fire. You exclaim, “You’re on fire!! Get out of there, quick!!” But the man inside hatefully shouts back, “Stop judging me and shouting at me – I thought you were a Christian and supposed to show love. Plus, I like it here.” Do you see the parallel? I hope you see the point. Just because a Christian is bold and urgent with his/her warnings and adamant about helping a stubborn person certainly does not show lack of love; in fact, quite the opposite is true.
Hot Button Issues
Recently, it seems the most talked about hot button issues are:
~ Gay rights
This makes the acronym, “G.A.G.” A “gag order” is a term used in a court of law. It is a judge’s order prohibiting the court case to be discussed in public. It seems that society places a proverbial gag order on Christians when it comes to these particular issues. They don’t want us to be a part of the conversation about gays, abortion, or guns. Nonetheless, what we have to say is very important.
Please, do not fall into the trap of believing that Christian beliefs are just our opinion or interpretation. How much plainer can scripture be? It paints it out very concisely. When I, as a Christian, say that “I believe” something – that does not mean that “I think” or that “this is my opinion”. I say the words, “I believe” because I fully believe the Bible is true even if no one believes it is; much like the law of gravity holds true on earth, even if no one believes in it. We, as Christians, hold the truth and we needn’t feel excluded from the discussion on these issues.
True Christians who take a loving yet bold stand for the truth will be persecuted in various forms. But we must remember that we will be hated because we look like Jesus. The world hates the Jesus inside of us. But, we must never cower down, for God is on our side and we are only trying to help. We are fighting the good fight of faith and it will be worth it after all. Be encouraged, weary pilgrim; your labor is not in vain!
Topical Video Links
Don’t Get Down on Jesus: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=09JF1MNU
“Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties. When the wind blows hard on a tree, the roots stretch and grow the stronger. Let it be so with us. Let us not be weaklings, yielding to every wind that blows, but strong in spirit to resist.” ~Amy Carmichael
“Man has suddenly become alarmed and worried about his environment, and the things that threaten his body, but he spends little or no time worrying about spiritual pollution, and the things that threaten his eternal soul.” ~David Wilkerson
“The world will not be destroyed by evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” ~Albert Einstein
“Proof we are in the last days! Wisdom is down, good is bad, right is wrong. Love is tolerance for sin while the ministers give in. Marriage no longer binds a man with a woman and the elder has no respect but called the old fool. Men with morals are considered as the weak while evil men are considered as the strong.Criminals are protected while the good men are punished. Pagan gods are accepted while truth is rejected and the dragon is considered the coolest of all.” ~Timothy M. Youngblood
“Christian chameleons will not be persecuted.” ~Zac Poonen
“A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ’s service.” ~C.T. Studd
“When we are in hand-to-hand conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil himself, neat little Biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter; God needs a man who will let go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, in the power of the Holy Ghost. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count.” ~C.T. Studd
“Our faces will not be found in the hog trough of immorality. We’re not going there. We’re not living there. We’re not staying there. God is going to give us all the power to walk through this filthy generation with the glory of God in our heart and in our soul.” ~Carter Conlon
“Tolerance is the virtue of those who don’t believe anything.” ~Gilbert Keith G. K. Chesterton
“I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.” ~Gilbert Keith G. K. Chesterton
“We should note this curious mark of our own age: the only absolute allowed is the absolute insistence that there is no absolute.” ~Francis A. Schaeffer
“Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation, regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong. A false spirit of accommodation is sweeping the world as well as the Church, including those who claim the label of evangelical.” ~Francis A. Schaeffer
“It is no fault of Christianity that a hypocrite falls into sin.” ~St. Jerome
“Without absolutes revealed by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers.” ~John Owen
“Out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” ~John 7.38