Oh, Abba… I see enough of the nightly news to know there’s been a change in the overall atmosphere. I sense it in our own country and around the world, too… for many different reasons. And I’m wondering what You want me to do about it.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, defined a “tipping point” as a particular moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a theshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.
Are we nearing a “tipping point” in our culture, Lord, when it comes to openly advocating positions based on Biblical standards? Are we nearing a “tipping point” on the world stage when it comes to anti-Christian sentiment and action?
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:9-13)
The news is full these days of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling making gay-marriage legal throughout our nation. Already there is much talk about the potential ramifications of this decision for Christians who, as a matter of religious conviction, do not want to support these marriages (e.g., Christian pastors who may be called upon to officiate at ceremonies, Christian owners of businesses who may be called upon for wedding-related services, etc.)
Although the Court’s majority opinion reiterates the constitutional right of individuals to hold and advocate their deeply-held religious beliefs, activists are already advocating severe measures against those who do not embrace and/or support same-sex marriage. Potential loss of churches’ tax-exempt status is just one threat that has been raised. Business owners merely expressing their Biblically-based religious convictions on this issue have been met with the harshest of verbal abuse, economic boycotts intended to bankrupt them… even death threats.
Relentless lawsuits of various kinds, all designed to remove references to You and Your Word from the public square. Militant anti-Christian sentiment that has led to the murder of hundreds (thousands?) of Christians worldwide.
Even so, now is not the time to despair… is it, Lord?
“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes… so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-11,13b)
We’re in a time of preparation… aren’t we, Lord? A time during which You will help us grow in both LOVE and COURAGE?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
“Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
The world has changed. But You haven’t… have You, Lord? As it has been for over 2000 years, I — and others who love You — may be the only meaningful exposure some people have to You and Your Word.
It’s times like these that test the quality of our faith. And as we exercise our faith, it gets stronger. “Love” does not mean “anything goes.” Any parent knows that loving a child does not mean letting him or her do whatever he or she wants. Love sets healthy boundaries and speaks truth, even when it hurts. True Love stands against the flow of culture, if that flow is travelling away from You, Lord. Courage is not manifested in the absence of danger, but only in the very midst of danger.
No one has ever loved like You have, Lord. No one has ever displayed more courage than You. Nowhere were these demonstrated more powerfully than at Calvary over 2,000 years ago. On the Cross, where You willingly embraced the most horrific torture and execution, all so You could express most powerfully Your incomparable message — “I LOVE YOU!” — to every human being, past present and future.
“But God demonstrates HIs own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
So it is only by our faith in You, Lord, that we can love others (even enemies) like You have loved us. It is only by our faith in You that we can be courgeous enough to stand against even seemingly impossible odds.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Strengthen us with Your Love, Lord, and embolden us with Your Courage… all for such a time as this. So we can be all You have created us to be. And we can do all You have called us to do.
“… He has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on God’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19b-20)
Trusting Your power as I testify, even out of my weakness…