By Kevin Cauley
It seems that on every side we turn now a days, we find a nation that is increasingly hostile toward Christianity. From Rosie O’Donnel’s comments that fundamentalists Christians are worse than radical Islamists to Bill Maher’s mocking the Lord’s supper by comparing it to a homosexual affair, we find in popular culture that hostile and offensive comments toward Christians are becoming the norm. Moreover, the ACLU intimidated bureaucracy also continues to hammer away at Christian liberties: denying prayer, refusing some the right to publicly demonstrate, removing “in God we trust” from public view and countless other injustices that are too numerous to include here. So what is a Christian to do in such a society?
First, there is the prayer and fasting. When we look at the example of the early church in seemingly impossible situations, we find them employing these means. Acts 12 records for us that Herod had just put James to death with the sword. He had Peter in prison and was waiting for the Passover to end so that he could then kill him as well. The church was praying, fasting, that somehow such would not occur. And in these days of the miraculous, God intervenes and rescues Peter from Herod’s death grip. Did fasting and prayer make a difference? Absolutely. It made a difference when nothing else could have made a difference. And while God doesn’t work miraculously today, he can work in ways that are beyond our comprehension to answer the saint’s supplication ( Ephesians 3:20). Such is the privilege of the Christian that when we have nowhere else to turn, we can turn to God.
Second, we can continue to teach the doctrine of Christ and move individuals to become disciples. Some attribute Abraham Lincoln to saying “I destroy all of my enemies by making them my friends.” We need to adopt this attitude as well. This doesn’t mean that we become milquetoasts, caving and cowering to avoid offense. No. To the contrary, Christians of the first century were quite bold when faced with opposition. Paul told Elymas the Sorcerer, “O full of all guile and all villany, thou son of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?” He wielded the sword of the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:17) to condemn and convict. His boldness swayed Sergius Paulus, the one honest of heart, to become a believer ( Acts 13:4-13).
Third, we can take advantage of our political opportunities to stand up for the truth. When Paul was faced with jail or death, he would often resort to such an option. He told the authorities in Philippi after his unlawful imprisonment that he was a Roman citizen ( Acts 16:37) and as such he had certain rights that could not be violated. He repeated the same right to a centurion that was about to flog him in Acts 22:25. Paul stood before proconsuls, kings, and emperors to defend his faith often times waiting in prison for months, years on end to get his opportunity to speak. Many, perhaps, would criticize Paul for being such a sparkplug; they may say that much of this could have been avoided. What was Paul’s attitude? He said, “woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” ( 1 Corinthians 9:16) and “I die daily” ( 1 Corinthians 15:31). He was zealous with a godly zealousy ( 2 Corinthians 11:2).
Today these political opportunities take the form of participation in polls, petitions, peaceful protest and yes, even demanding our rights when the opportunity arises. Participating in online forums, polls, and petitions provides us with a way to speak on the issues of the day. Would to God that we had more individuals willing to stand in the gap and brave the gauntlet of a hostile culture to stand up for what is right!
Consider the lesson that Martin Niemoeller teaches us. The Nazis imprisoned him at the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps beginning in 1937. He wrote:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
Will Christians be overrun because we failed to speak out? I pray that the future will be otherwise, but I’m not staying on my knees to find out. I’ll be out there seeking to counter the cultural melee against Christianity. Like David, I’ll not be content to sit back with the defied and silent multitudes. Instead, I’ll be going down to the brook, taking action where others will not ( 1 Samuel 17:40).