In a recent blog post, I briefly touched on the subject of fear.
It is easy for Christians in America to be afraid today. Maybe we fear government retribution because of stories like this one, or this. Maybe you heard something about this, or this. It is not difficult to take the next step and say that ministers and congregations may soon face penalties for refusing to take part in homosexual weddings. This conclusion does not seem so far-fetched in light of recent developments in Houston, Texas.
So…. why are Christians afraid?
I know, this sounds like a stupid question, but it is one that needs to be asked.
And here is why I ask it: I would humbly submit that never before in the history of the world have so many done so little with so much for the sake of Christ.
If you take a step back and look at the history of our country, you see that God has entrusted us with an embarrassing amount of resources! And what have we done with them? Have we been good stewards? Have we truly sought His will? Many will claim the name and title of Christian, when in reality they belong to a cult, hold to a social gospel (which is no gospel at all,) or contrive a civil religion based upon an un-Scriptural belief that to be American equates to being a Christian.
What have we done? We have perverted The Word to conform to the comforts of our lifestyle. We live in such luxury that we are afraid of losing that which God has entrusted to us because we somehow believe that we deserve it and it is ours and, by golly, no one can take that from us.
But what would happen if we were to set aside fear and diminish the importance of comfort in our lives?
We have fooled ourselves into thinking that culture wants to coexist amicably with Christ. As time goes on, we are starting to see the folly of that reasoning. I believe that our fear is of a few things:
1–Fear of losing friends/influence/standing within our community and social networks.
2–Fear of losing our possessions.
3–Fear of violence.
Please understand that I am not saying, “You poor fools! I am far above you!” No… I admit… I’m right there with you. Also, I’m not saying that we will have a brand new car and great house if we were just to preach the Gospel. In fact, if we were to set aside comfort for the sake of Christ, I have a feeling it would look something like this:
We would take our shots, one after another. I know that there are many who will say, “But if we stand up for Christ, don’t we win something?” Look at Scripture. Throughout the history of God’s people, we see that standing up for Christ does NOT result in earthly comfort. I confess that when I would read passages about believers who were excited to suffer for Christ, or read modern day examples of those who were honored to suffer for Jesus, I would think to myself, “WHAT?? I don’t want to face that!”
I think I’m beginning to understand, though. I admit that I am still not brave, but I am beginning to see what Scripture is teaching us. Our hope is not an earthly hope. As the great hymn says:
And take they my life/Goods, fame, child, and wife/Though these all be gone/Our vict’ry has been won/The Kingdom ours remaineth (LSB, 656)
We will face SOME form of discomfort and opposition. Perhaps we lose friendships. Maybe we lose business. We might be ridiculed online or in public. But we do not have to let fear drive us! We can look to the future in fear for our children… or we can look forward thinking, “I cannot wait to see what the Lord will do through my children.” We can be afraid of subpoenas and jail time… or we can respond by saying, “God can use me to share the Gospel within the government!” We can be afraid of culture turning against the church… or we can respond by saying, “The fields are ripe for the harvest!”