Ready or Not; Everything Just Changed
Friday, June 26th, was a defining moment for our country. Ignoring 6000 years of historical tradition and understanding, the Supreme Court redefined marriage. Rather than interpreting the law, which is their constitutional mandate, they chose to create law in order to affect this. But this hasn’t been the first time, and we can be certain it won’t be the last. I’m not a big fan of politics, but the political fallout of this seems to be escaping most… For all intents and purposes now, SCOTUS is THE principle policy and law making arm of government. And in his rebuttal, of this decision Justice Scalia made a most astounding and, I believe, accurate statements: “A system of government that makes the people subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”
As I was thinking on this impending decision over the past few weeks, something I heard years ago kept coming to mind in my prayer time. Jimmy Draper, when he was then president of Lifeway, shared what he had heard from a leader in the Chinese house church movement. He had been asked how American Churches could pray for the house churches in China. This Chinese Christian’s reply: “Stop praying for persecution in China to end, for it is through persecution that the church has grown.” Draper then recounted what the man said next, “We, in fact, are praying that the American church might taste the same persecution, so revival would come to the American church like we have seen in China.” Much could be said about this man’s statement, for he saw in us something most American Christians have missed (or ignored). Suffice it to say, it is now years later, and I am thinking that the prayers of these Chinese believers is being answered; albeit not necessarily in a way that makes us comfortable. But I must ask, do we really believe God is all that concerned about our comfort?
I do not know what the future holds for biblical Christian ministries and churches in the wake of Friday’s ruling. I am not a prophet, or a son of a prophet, but I do not believe our road will be an easy one, or anything like that which we have enjoyed since we became a nation. In the Patriot New’s cover story on this ruling, they quoted activists as saying there “is still much to be done”. They were using phrases like “anti-discrimination” and “hate crimes”. And given that the Supreme Court turned 6000 years of legal understanding on its head regarding marriage, I am not placing bets they’re going to play nice with 200+ year old legal concepts like the First Amendment.
Al Mohler in his blogged response to the ruling wrote: “The threat to religious liberty represented by this decision is clear, present, and inevitable. Assurances to the contrary, the majority in this decision has placed every religious institution in legal jeopardy if that institution intends to uphold its theological convictions limiting marriage to the union of a man and a woman. This threat is extended to every religious citizen or congregation that would uphold the convictions held by believers for millennia. Justice Clarence Thomas warned in his dissent of ‘ruinous consequences for religious liberty.’”
But we need to keep a little perspective. As I shared Sunday, the vast number of people celebrating this decision are not the “bad guys”; they’re not the militant, radical types that have dedicated themselves to seeing this through. For the most part they’re much like us; longing to experience love, joy, peace, and hope. And I really can’t identify anyone who is acting worse or more evil than a guy who was named Saul of Tarsus; and look what God did with him! With this in mind, we need to remind ourselves that while our world seems to have changed, our mission has not. People still need Christ! And we still need to be a people of prayer!
Now is not the time for fear or panic. Nor is it a time for anger, bitterness, or vitriolic, unkind, even hateful words. We may well lose many of the religious liberties our founding fathers fought and sacrificed for. But let us also put that in perspective. When Jesus walked this earth, and when the NT writers compiled their Gospels and letters, the religious liberty we have enjoyed as Americans would have been unthinkable. In fact, there is no biblical promise of religious liberty… only freedom in Christ.
As your pastor, and as your leaders, we are and will be on our knees before God, not so much seeking avoidance of persecution, but God’s wisdom, grace, courage, power, and guidance as we seek to lead our church through the ever changing landscape of our culture. Would you please pray with us and for us? It may also help to know that many of your friends and family, even those who have professed a faith in Christ, will question, challenge, and perhaps even condemn you - and break your heart, if you persist in holding to the Bible as your standard of truth, faith, and practice. Some will abandon our church. For that I am sorry. But… Please know that as your pastor, I will not and cannot abandon or compromise on God’s Word, and neither will your church. That is my both my promise to you, and my conviction before God.
I will close now with these verses: Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:32 & 36 NLT)
No one without saving faith in Christ can be truly free, no matter how much liberty is given to them by their government.