Much is changing in the world and culture. Government leaders scoff at American
exceptionalism. Marriage is being
redefined against the will of the people by activist judges. Sexuality has left the realm of decency and
privacy and now parades unabashedly in public and before our children led by
the homosexual activists. School
teachers and administrators threaten and humiliate children who would dare
speak the name of Jesus or bring a Bible to class. Hollywood runs anyone who proclaims their
Christian faith out of town while the military pays for operations to make men
become women. Professional football
players are sent to get “reeducated” if they publicly say that a televised kiss
between two men is “horrible.” The
“American Dream” of success based on opportunity and hard work has been
replaced by the American Entitlement where millions of people think they are
owed something for doing nothing. All
the while the Church seems unsure what its role is supposed to be in this
monumental shift of values and mores.
So I’ve done some soul searching and decided to look back on
what made me become a Christian and think, believe, and live the way I do. Is it still valid? With the seismic cultural shift(s) going on,
should I rethink my faith (like so many others seem to be doing) or keep
fighting the current heading upstream?
My Christian life has always been founded on the Word of
God. Three particular passages in the
Bible grabbed my attention early on and provided a foundation while setting a
tone for my life in Christ. Maybe they
have lost their relevance in my soul. If
they have there seems to be no reason to continue the fight and risk
persecution. So here we go…
I wasn’t born into a Christian family so my upbringing was
very hedonistic. As a young man in my
late teens I began to consider things that weren’t being covered by the feel
good generation I was a part of.
Somehow, it seemed obvious to me that I should begin to investigate the
realm of faith and religion. So I began
reading the New Testament. Never will I
forget the day I read these words in Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is
against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” If that isn’t a call to take sides I don’t
know what is. There is no fence to sit
on or any middle ground. Choose Christ
or you have chosen against Him. Serve
Him or oppose Him. I made my choice for
Him and I’ve never regretted it.
Rereading that verse reminds me just how important it is to take a stand
for Him in the midst of this culture war.
There can be no gathering of the harvest with Christ if I decide to lay
low in my church. As a matter of fact
laying low in the culture war is actually scattering the harvest which would
put me right back in the untenable place of being “against” Jesus. Choosing Jesus Christ means choosing the work
that goes along with that choice. There
is no choosing Christ while remaining neutral in the culture war.
It wasn’t long after choosing to be “with” Christ that I
read another passage in the New Testament that guided me in a specific
direction. It was Romans 1:16, “For I am
not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone
who believes…” Aligning myself with
Jesus Christ was not to be or remain a strictly personal and private matter. It wasn’t long after becoming a Christian
that I began to feel the pressure to keep my new found faith to myself. Apparently, my change of heart, mind, and
direction was a bit unseemly to the crowd I was with. And I began to succumb to their lectures and
admonitions that faith and religion are private matters best kept within the
confines of the church property. Until I
read Romans 1:16. I will not be either
ashamed or intimidated into remaining silent about my faith in Christ. While I will not tell anyone else how they
should be living their life neither will I sit passively by being told what I
should believe and accept as normative.
No, I won’t beat people over the head with the Bible but I won’t hide it
from their view either. Since the gospel
is the power of God to salvation I will not be afraid or ashamed to tell what
it is that it saves people from. Therein
lies the rub. There is no good news to
share without there being some bad news to be saved from. Not ashamed.
It won’t take long as you shamelessly stand for the gospel
of Christ to find out there is a price to pay for doing so. It was during my time of trial that I read
Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together
for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This passage taught me that the troubles that
come from being called and deployed as a soldier for Christ are both manageable
and malleable. God will take the pain
and hardship associated with faithfulness to Him and reform and shape it into
something good. Something to be proud
of. But take note. That promise is made only to the called whose
love for God outweighs their urge to settle down and fit in to culture and
society. I am reminded of something
James said in the New Testament: “Do you not know that friendship with the
world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world
makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
You see, there is not supposed to be a desire to get along
with the ways of society and the world.
I am not supposed to get in the canoe and float wherever the current
takes me. I am a Christian and every
fiber of my being is supposed to be resisting the urge to sit down, shut up,
and get on board with a culture that is celebrating rebellion against God. Those things that formed and shaped me into a
Christian will not permit me to turn a blind eye and simply shrug and walk
quietly away. I chose a side. I unreservedly and unashamedly committed
myself to declare Him and His will for humanity. I accepted the promise that He would take the
unsavory things in life that came as a result of being faithful and make them
good. So I cannot and will not
go-along-to-get-along with the seismic shift going on in our culture. I will continue to be committed to the choice
I made, demonstrating it without shame, and trust God to make something good
out of the insults and vitriol that come my way because of it.
I think its time for all Christians to ask themselves why
they became followers of Christ and whether or not what was true then remains
true now. We were all told it would be
this way. Revival starts not when a
good sermon is preached but when the chords to a key memory are struck. “Oh yeah, that’s why I got on board in the
first place!” And that’s why I will walk
in faithful obedience today. Even and
especially if it is at odds with today’s culture.
Ray Rooney, Jr.