A few weeks ago, I had one of those “The Lord spoke to me” experiences. I know, it sounds charismatic, but the experience was thoroughly biblical.
For the past several months I’ve had a growing sense of anxiety and, yes, even fear. There is no denying that our culture is becoming increasingly aggressive in its hatred of Christ. A new religion called social justice is sweeping the land with a vigor unmatched since the Great Awakening. This new religion is impervious to reason and will not tolerate dissent. Whether the issue is LGBTQ+ or race or ‘climate justice’, you will find that those who worship at the altar of ideological social justice are not interested in debate. They are interested only in conformity and compliance. And that’s been on my mind.
History shows that when the church faces aggressive cultural opposition it takes one of three approaches:
- Conformity – The church decides to abandon biblical teaching in order to maintain the favor of the culture. This is the stance taken by current “Progressive Christianity” - an example is its embrace of homosexuality as a normal, God-given sexual practice.
- Accommodation – This usually looks like a gradual, unintentional conforming to the culture so that, over time, cultural norms erode and override biblical orthodoxy (pre-marital sex, abortion, homosexuality, etc). Compare the stance of young “Evangelical Christians” today on issues like homosexuality and pre-marital sex compared to 20 years ago. What happened?
- Resistance - the church intentionally resists being conformed to the pattern of this world by consistently renewing its mind according to God’s Word.
Resistance, of course, is the only option available to sincere believers.
“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Romans 12:2
However, resistance is costly and painful. Whether the context is 1st century Rome, 20th century Russia, or today – when God’s people hold to God’s Word as ultimate reality and the gospel as the only hope for mankind, there will be persecution. I believe that, as we stand for Christ in this Christ-opposing culture, we will taste the “trials” of our faith.
And that was making me anxious. So, when I pulled out my Bible for devotions, I remember saying, “Lord, I need something to give me courage and peace.” I’ve been reading through Matthew’s gospel, and that morning I was on chapter 10.
And the Lord spoke to me, through His word.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” Matthew 10:24–25
Conflict for the sake of Christ is par for the discipleship course. And Jesus specifically told me, “Have no fear of them” (10:26). And,
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:28–32
That’s exactly what I needed to hear. Isn’t it wonderful when the Word of Christ ministers to us in precisely the way we need? As I read, it was as if I was there, with the disciples, and Jesus was talking to them – and to me. And His words calmed my fears. He reminded me that persecution is part of the plan – His plan. He told me that not a hair could fall from my head without my Father’s permission. And that Jesus Himself would acknowledge me before His Father in heaven if I would be willing to acknowledge Him before men.
So be it, Lord. Give us the strength. Give Yourself the glory.
In His Service,
Pastor Dale Van Dyke