“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
There’s a clarifying moment in Acts 4 when Peter and John are ordered by leaders of the Holy City Regime that they must stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ. This is more than a command that they must cease and desist from using the name Jesus. Rather, they must stop teaching his ideas; quit acting under his authority. Our guys reply, “You can judge for yourselves whether it right for us to obey you rather than God. But as for us, we cannot possibly stop talking about what we’ve seen and heard.” (4:20-21) As soon as the dynamic duo are together again with their friends at church, they share the warnings from the powers that be, and then pray that God will grant them all boldness to continue. Scripture reports that the room is shaken.
Twenty-one centuries later, if we don’t hear about prayer chapels being rocked anymore, maybe it’s because it’s been such a long time since we prayed for boldness. Rather than digging deep for determination to turn the tide of evil and asking God to sustain us, we have apparently decided to pray for public relations strategies to improve our image. Somewhere along the way to the Big Tent Church, many of us decided that Jesus is probably still relevant, but his message is so 1980’s! Nobody is a fan of political correctness or thought police, but who really wants to buck the system? Not us! So we have packed away hot button words like holiness, judgment, sin, chastity, integrity, sacrifice, and moral purity because we can’t go around making other people feel bad. And that “One Way Jesus” routine has to go, in exchange a smiling god with a California tan; a gentle guide who embraces all serious practitioners of any religion. “In fact, let’s stop talking about faith all together except when we go to church. Nobody at work wants to hear this stuff anyway!”
In a culture that teaches “No Limits,” the Gospel is a line in the sand that drives trendy people crazy. There’s only one way: it’s Jesus or a wasted life followed by condemnation. There is never more than one choice: holiness or ultimate ruin. There are responsibilities and roles: an affront to all those anything-goes individualists who want only to do their own thing. There are demands to be met: will we worship the Almighty or will we simply run after our whims and impulses? The Gospel is too black and white for a colorful generation like this one! At least, that’s what we’ve been told.
C.S. Lewis once recommended “resistance thinking.” But long, long before that Jesus Christ taught that we must persevere in the face of opposition. He forecast that even family members would turn against us and that persecution and even arrest would follow. “But whoever remains faithful to the end will be saved.” (John 10:23) Now there’s an ancient concept: faithful. It’s so demanding! It’s so…so Jesus, isn’t it?
There are some other powerful words Christians need to reclaim, and I’m not just talking about chastity, integrity, moral purity, self control, and sacrifice. We also need to discover the meaning of some Old School words like defiance, subversive, and bold. Our race for respectability has gained us nothing. When we finally surrender one “offensive idea,” the intelligentsia always seem to discover another ugly doctrine that must be abandoned next. What would happen if we stopped apologizing for the Gospel, and began to live it unashamedly? Few seem to know at this PC moment, but it seems like an idea whose time has come… again!
Lift up the Cross!