As Christians living in 2018, it sure seems that things are being turned upside down. What I mean by that is the things that used to be looked upon as right and normal are now looked upon as being wrong, out of step, and not at all normal. Political correctness and the ability to intimidate those who believe differently than you seems to be everywhere in our society.
As a pastor trying to stand for righteousness, I have recently been involved in a battle with our county leaders. Many others in our congregation have taken a stand as well! The County Council is set to vote on an ordinance that will establish a Human Rights Commission in our county. The ordinance specifically adds sexual orientation and gender identity as a protected class.
We have seen this played out in other areas of our country. A Christian business owner is asked to use his skill or talent to celebrate a lifestyle that he, in good conscience, can’t accommodate. His refusal is based on his firmly held religious convictions. When the business owner states that he can’t accommodate the individual’s request, the individual then files a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. The business owner is investigated and, in most cases, cited for discrimination with fines being levied. The business owner is then forced to make a decision to pay the fine and do what is asked, or close his business, and in some cases, fight this unjust violation of his First Amendment right by filing a law suit.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is designed to protect people of faith from having to violate their religious convictions as they go about their life in this nation. Here is how the Amendment is worded:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Our government isn’t supposed to establish laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. They aren’t supposed to be able to control our speech. They aren’t supposed to make us violate our firmly held biblical convictions. Yet with the establishment of these kinds of ordinances, that is exactly what they are doing.
What is the answer? How is a Christian supposed to live in this complicated world? The answer is to do it the same way the people of God have always done it.
1. We live our lives to be pleasing to God. We should strive to live in obedience to the laws of man, but when man’s laws conflict with God’s laws, we must live our lives to please God.
2. We show respect to every person. We may not agree with a person’s lifestyle choices, but that doesn’t give us the right to be mean, rude, or disrespectful; however, being respectful doesn’t mean we must do whatever they request of us if we truly believe that by doing so we are violating God’s Law. It simply means we do our best to show kindness and grace to each individual, just like Christ did.
3. We must prepare to suffer for righteousness’ sake. I know no one wants to hear this, but it is true. If things continue to move in the direction they are moving, life is going to become more difficult for us as believers. We might have to suffer for righteousness’ sake.
4. We must learn to encourage each other in our faith. As believers we need each other, and as we face the harsh reality of a world that hates us, we must learn to love and encourage each other.
5. Finally, it means we should be looking toward heaven with a spirit of expectation. The Bible states: “…as it was in the days of [Noah], so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man…Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot…Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:26–30).