“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
Jesus has called us to step up and to stand out in a world that is falling to pieces. Like that city on a hill that He referenced in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, we are to be a beacon of hope and shine the light of truth in the midst of a dark world that has lost its way. In a society awash with moral ambivalence, we are to walk in the unchanging truth of God’s Word that we might demonstrate His goodness and righteousness to a world under the sway of the wicked one (see 1 John 5:19). The Kingdom of Heaven has always been intended to serve as a counter-culture, a sharp contrast to the ego-centric kingdoms of this world, which are built to serve the gods of pleasure, profit, and human pride.
However, with the turning of America’s cultural tide away from the biblical worldview toward one that is more secular, many Christians are feeling the pressure to blend in, so as not to attract the attention of those whose tolerance only extends to others who share the same politically correct and socially sanctioned narrative. It’s difficult to stand out and be distinct in a culture that is doing all it can to enforce conformity to a morally neutral agenda. Some fear losing their friends or even their employer’s good favor, which is a genuine concern in the light of those who have had to surrender high-profile corporate positions because of their traditional, biblical beliefs. Others fear being viewed as intolerant themselves, since they cannot agree with the dominant cultural opinions on a number of social topics, ranging from abortion to same-sex marriage.
However, what is becoming a reality to us in the smallest degree here in North America has been a stark reality for faithful believers in many lands for many centuries, from the three Hebrew children who refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image to modern day martyrs who have paid the ultimate price for their unwavering testimony. The Church of Jesus Christ has always gone upstream, against the grain, and contrary to the prevailing culture. In the first century, the Church thrived and grew in the heat of persecution, both political and religious. We stand witness in this very hour to what has been rightly labeled by other nations, though not our own, as a Christian genocide in the middle east, as many believers are harassed, harried, and brutally killed for their faith. Nevertheless, there is good news, for even in nations where one might think that little gospel light shines, multitudes are coming to Christ as the gospel passes through gates, climbs over walls, and crosses oceans to find a home in the hearts of the humble.
Satan knows his time is short, and we see him pulling out all the stops to try to silence the voices of those who are called to proclaim the liberating truth of the gospel to every nation. America has been the banner carrier for religious liberty for so many years, we simply took it for granted that we would never truly see an erosion of those founding principles we held so dear. Yet, from college campuses to the halls of power, we see a renewed movement to redefine not only America, but the faith handed down to us from the pages of Holy Scripture. The ranks of those who want to modify, temper, and “adjust” the gospel to their liking is seen, not only in those who have a clear intent to advance their progressive agenda, but even by certain members of the Church, who have advocated a “kinder,” less “judgmental” message, as though it was in our power to change the immutable and alter the eternal.
It is time to blow a trumpet in the Church of Jesus Christ. It is time for the faithful to rally to the Lord’s banner and reaffirm our devotion to the truth, for only in doing so can we TRULY love the lost. If we ourselves lose the roadmap back to the tree of life, who will lead us safely to that celestial city? If we forfeit the truth of which God has made us stewards, who will recover us? The gospel is not some will-o’-the-wisp, forever moving and inconstant, but a fixed mark, a true north star by which the lost can find safe harbor. For us to abandon the objective truth of scripture to accommodate a fickle society, who have have thought they could ascend to God’s throne and relieve Him of the responsibility of being the arbiter of right and wrong that they might redefine it to fit their fancy, is not love but cowardice. We mustn’t be like Aaron, the Lord’s priest, who succumbed to the coercion of the crowd and helped fashion the golden calf – an alternative to the One True God – that the people might have a god created in their own image to worship. Yet, we do so when we soften our message and “modify” the God of the Bible to make Him more palatable to a self-indulgent society, resolved on bending reality to suit their purposes.
Those who have thought we should seek reconciliation with the world by tempering the sharp edge of truth have themselves been deceived, for they have believed the lie that even God Himself is negotiable. No, it is not God or His Word that are askew. Though all the world be bent, God’s Word reveals the sole, straight path to life and peace. True love does not ask how we can be reconciled with the world, but rather how we can best help the world become reconciled to God. It is only through Christ that peace with God is found and true reconciliation among men made possible. The good news is that there IS a way. It is our job as believers to represent that ONE WAY honestly, genuinely, compassionately, but also courageously and uncompromisingly. We must step out from the shadows, take a stand, and answer the call to be distinct. We are not to blend, but to shine. We are not to conform, but demonstrate the transformative power of the gospel, for in that gospel is the only hope for this world.