Welcome to the Big Picture Podcast. I’m Joel Fieri and this podcast seeks to begin and hopefully sustain a conversation about current trends, ideas and issues in the Church and greater society. Today I wanted to follow up on my podcast from a couple weeks ago with the Backrow Baptist, the guy in the back pew who can’t quiet keep the rhythm or sing on-key. You’ve seen him, and he’s seen you.
On that podcast we were talking about how to respond to our rapidly secularizing culture and the moral revolution that is quickly over-taking it.
Since then we’ve had a very significant event happen, with the coming out of a major sports figure as gay. This one has a twist, though. The man claims that he’s a Christian, and that he chooses to believe that God’s okay with his homosexuality.
Some Christians have bravely spoken out on this, many are keeping pretty quiet about it, and there’s a growing number of Christians who are actually climbing on board with this new Christian morality.
Now I don’t want to get into the specifics of that story, but instead, as usual, I want to take a big picture look at what it represents. We’ve talked before about how too many of our Christian brothers and sisters today are following the path of least resistance with the world, trying hard to remain relevant in hopes that the world will eventually accept a message from them that it considers irrelevant at best. Because of the pressure to conform our views to political correctness, many fearful Christians are seeking a quiet life of acceptance and accommodation towards the world, while others are hoping that a commitment to social justice and service will be enough of a witness, and that vocally opposing such wordly agendas isn’t necessary or helpful.
The Christians that don’t want to accept or accommodate the world and do speak out in defense of Biblical morality tend to annoy and frustrate these more timid souls. So we’re at a crossroads, it would seem. So what road, or roads, should we take?
One of my favorite thinkers today is columnist Mark Steyn. He’s not a Christian commentator per se, but he says something very interesting about our culture. And that is that the culture that means it, wins. He mainly says this about Islam and it’s growing influence in the West, but it also applies to the subject of morality.
Back to my previous podcast, I used the story of Lot in Sodom trying to protect God’s messengers from gang rape as a warning against being so caught up in the approval and acceptance of the world that when the world finally turns on us, we won’t have any credibility or relevance to defend ourselves, let alone our values or what’s holy to us. Remember, Lot knew what the men of Sodom were going to do. He’d seen it before, and didn’t speak out. And because of that, the rapists weren’t about to stop when he spoke up way too late.
Such is, and will be the case with us today. As Pastor Albert Mohler put it recently:
“There is no escaping the fact that we are living in the midst of a moral revolution. And yet, it is not the world around us that is being tested, so much as the believing church. We are about to find out just how much we believe the Gospel we so eagerly preach.”
No matter how nice we are to the world, or what justice we claim to bring, when push comes to shove and Biblical morality is seen as unacceptable or maybe even criminal to our culture, the world will find out if we really DO mean what we say. And sadly, it will conclude that many Christians really DON’T.
We’ll be persecuted, the Bible promises it. And believe it or not, Christians in persecuted countries around the world have been praying for years that persecution would come to the American church, in order to purify it.
So it’s beginning. Unless we boldly, with courage and conviction, stand fast to a faithful adherence and obedience to God’s plan for marriage, family and community now, we won’t handle real trouble very well later.
Which brings me to what is becoming my biggest fear as I look at what’s happening today, which is that those among us seeking the quiet, un-troubled life will inadvertently enable and possibly even actively participate in the persecution of Christians.
As I stated earlier, people with courage tend to annoy and frustrate those who don’t possess courage. You can see it with many of the people who speak out today in defense of marriage and Biblical morality. No matter how nicely they state their case, the world get’s angry, and many of their fellow Christians distance themselves. Some even join in the criticism.
The shield of faith that Paul talks about in Ephesians is designed to extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one, but it can’t protect us from arrows fired from behind. God promises us that will bless us when we are persecuted, but I’m afraid of how He might deal with those of us who might just enable that persecution.
The believers in political correctness mean it, folks. Do we, as believers in Jesus Christ, mean it? We’re about to find out.
In closing, it’s time for the Great Cloud Of Witnesses, the segment of our podcast where we meet and hear the stories of those who have given, and some who are still giving, their lives by faith in the promises of God, and of whom the world was and is not worthy (if you don’t know that reference, please check out Hebrews chapter 11-12 in your Bible).
Today’s witness is you… and me. That’s right, I’m forgoing my usual story of a Christian martyr, and I’m going to apply Hebrews 11 and 12 to us today. Most of Hebrews 11 talks about the great success stories of Biblical men and women of faith that we know about, but then it turns anonymous and kind of gruesome towards the end. Listen from verse 35 to the end:
35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
I don’t know about you folks, but I’m not ready for that kind of persecution, but I can read that and think that if this cloud of witnesses took all that abuse for a reward they couldn’t see, I can take a little heat for standing up for God’s Word today. I’ve even been thinking of thanking God for the times we’re living in, asking for Him to give me an excitement about the privilege of possibly facing persecution, even small persecution like we face today.
I’ve been THINKING about it. I’m not there yet. And I’m certainly not there yet for my family and children. But as I say, if we REALLY believe what we say we believe, what choice do we have?
Hebrews 12 starts off this way;
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
See, really believing in God and His Son Jesus means we value His Kingdom more than anything else, especially comfort here on Earth . And if He is testing us by bringing trouble, we should trust in Him and welcome it.
Do we? We should even thank Him for it. Can we?
There’s a huge cloud of witnesses looking down on us from on high, and some even looking back at us from up front, wondering if we’re going lose heart and ignore the battle, or maybe fire at them from behind, or if we’re going to come to the front and stand with them. It’s time to find out who’s going to be part of the great cloud of witnesses, of whom the world is not worthy.
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