By Olen Holderby
Will anyone seriously question the presence of frustration in our society today? In the time of heightened prosperity such as we live in, it seems that something better should be expected. A portion of our local paper was recently headlined “Americans are Wealthier but not Happier.” Some have much, but are seeking more; and it doesn’t appear to make any difference how they get it. Corruption runs rampant, not only in politics, but in all levels of our society. Dishonesty is commonplace and disrespect for the law of our land can be seen on almost every street corner. The goal of many seems to be the satisfying of their every lust, even if it ruins a few lives in doing so. And, this is only a partial picture.
Indeed, there are those who strive to live above this; they are in the minority and many of these have lost heart — they just do not have the “grit” to continue their resistance. Yet, there remains many who continue and strive to improve the situation. These are known as “Christians.” Perhaps we should narrow this a bit, and say that we make reference to the “real conservative Christian” — the ones who are not satisfied with anything more or less than what God’s Word teaches.
What Is Wrong with Me?
I believe in the God of the Bible (Gen. 1:1). I believe Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). I believe the Gospel of Christ is the one and only standard of morality (Phil. 1:27). I believe that abortion violates the command “You shall not murder.” I believe that homosexuality is immoral and sinful (Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:27). I believe that the Gospel is the absolute standard that is to regulate all activities which God has given man to do (2 John 9). I have never tried to force my convictions upon others; but I am always willing and anxious to share my convictions with others and to offer reasons as to why I believe what I do (1 Pet. 3:15).
A while back a man was criticizing an article which I had written for the local paper. I was told that believing and teaching what I did made me a part of the “religious right.” I never did find out just what he meant by “religious right,” but somehow I was to be a danger to this country. Since then, I have found out that this was not an isolated case, but such is being voiced by many today. True Christians have a lot of enemies in this land, and some of them are quite vicious. “Christian-bashing” is rather common, often in news programs, where Christian principles are rejected and abhorred. Like unto ancient Rome, true Christians today are blamed with just about everything — we are the real troublers of the land and need to be squelched.
Even sadder is the fact that many Americans, perhaps unintentionally, have accepted this idea of the “religious right.” Many today, especially our enemies, are “willingly ignorant” of what the Bible teaches (2 Pet. 3:5), and they “speak evil of those things that they understand not” (2 Pet. 2:12). Christians are being reviled, slandered, lied against, accused of being narrow-minded, fanatical, bigots, cranks; yes, even “religious righters.” This is, of course, a form of religious persecution, and I do not believe that the persecution will stop with just verbal abuse.
But, why are true Christians being thus persecuted? There may be several reasons, but I shall mention only a couple. First, Christians are different. We are to be a peculiar people (Tit. 2:14) who teach and practice purity (Eph. 5:25-27; 1 John 3:3). Just the presence of such examples in morality is deeply resented by many. Secondly, Christians are to refrain from and rebuke evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22; Eph. 5:11). In the last of these two passages, the Christian is told to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Obeying these instructions of the Lord will interfere in the lives of those in sin, and all who wish to continue in sin are going to deeply resent such interfering. The world has a standard, but the Christian cannot be guided thereby (Rom. 12:2).
Our enemies “think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot”; therefore, “they speak evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:4). They want no part of that which demands self-control, restraint, or common decency; they must be able to set their own standard without anyone telling them that they are wrong. When we Christians try to share God’s Word with such, we are utterly condemned. They have no respect for our standard, though they demand that we respect theirs. All of this is nothing short of bigotry.
I have been accused of being allied with Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson. This charge I would strongly deny; for, neither of these gentlemen respect the Gospel as I try to do.
A Serious Mistake
Everybody or everything referred to as Christian just may not be Christian. Claiming to be a Christian is quite different from actually possessing the marks of the Christian. Therefore, it is a mistake to “lump” together all who claim to be Christian and call it true Christianity. The true Christian recognizes the Bible, and only the Bible, as his standard. Human creeds, whether Catholic or Protestant, are unacceptable to the true Christian. The Gospel would have the Christian to treat even his enemies with due respect. True Christians respect the laws of the land in which they live (Rom. 13:1-7); and the only time they are not to do so is when that law conflicts with the higher law of God (Acts 5:29). True Christianity has never endangered any country at any time. But, our enemies either have not recognized this distinction, or they have ignored it.
First, it is likely to get worse! So, how does the Christian react to all this? What solutions are available? Perhaps we could just ignore such and refuse to become involved one way or the other. Such reaction would not cause the problem to go away. It would, in fact, allow it to become worse more quickly. But, can we still claim to be a Christian and react in this way?
It may be that we can find a way to compromise with our enemies. We could sit down at the conference table with the abortion clinics, homosexuals, smut peddlers, movie makers and all their supporters and reach some sort of an agreement. It could, perhaps, be just a “gentlemen’s agree- ment” to let each other alone. Again, we must ask that troubling question — Can we accurately claim to be a Christian and do such?
The Christian is taught to teach (Matt. 28:18-20; 2 Tim. 2:2). He is to teach the Gospel (Mark 16:15), and he is to do so whether it is liked or not (2 Tim. 4:2). He is to teach “all the counsel of God” on any subject under consideration (Acts 20:27). I know of nothing else that we could do that would stand a chance of making the situation better. So, let us resolve to continue to preach God’s Word in its purity, and conform our own lives thereto, that our example, along with our words might be pleasing to him who shall judge all — both us and our enemies. Since the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), man can be saved only by following that Gospel, God’s Truth (John 17:17; 1 Pet. 1:22).
Of course, no one really knows for certain. However, if we are permitted to judge on the basis of the way things have gone the past three decades, it will be getting worse and worse. Christians will be limited more and more as to what they can do or what they can teach, yes, and even where they can teach it. According to papers which I have read, some such restrictions are already under way in some places. Are you ready for this? When we are ordered to do differently from what our God has ordered, how shall we react? Where shall we stand? May God help each of us to build the strength which we shall need. We may need it sooner than you think!
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