Sorry if I sound like Captain Obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: Christians are concerned about the Supreme Court decision in June that made same sex marriage legal in every state. Mostly, we lament that the Court’s decision gives a moral thumbs up to homosexuality and tacitly justifies society’s contempt for those who disagree.
I chose the word “concern” deliberately, because Philippians 4:6 clearly tells believers: “do not be anxious about anything” (Emphasis added.). However, in Philippians 2:20 Paul uses the same Greek word to express concern for the welfare of the Philippian church. Same word, slightly different meaning. That tells me that concern is not synonymous with anxiety. A note in the Reformation Study Bible explains that the exhortation in 4:6 refers to “anxiety that is incompatible with trust in God.”
I make that point to say – and I think you will agree – that the eternal purposes of our Supreme God have not been thwarted by our Supreme Court. We have every scriptural warrant to trust that by means that only He knows fully, the current disappointing turn of events will result in greater glory for Him. Therefore, our concern is great, but limited, and should not decline into despair.
There. I fell a lot better for getting that off my chest.
But, as I said, we are concerned. We wonder about the impact on our churches. We are not looking forward to being ostracized and losing friends, or worse yet, seeing ourselves or our children succumb to the world’s pressure to accept homosexuality as equal to heterosexuality.
Then, there are the practical questions: Will my advancement opportunities be limited when my boss finds out I’m a follower of Jesus? Will my resistance to homosexuality impact my children’s acceptance to a university? In what ways will my family and the larger Christian community be pushed to the edges of society?
Those concerns are valid, since most of us have never lived contra mundum, the Latin phrase that means “against the world.” With few, but significant exceptions, the values that have undergirded America’s institutions have largely mirrored a Christian worldview. But those values have eroded over the past half-century, and a new normal has been fully enshrined with this court ruling.
What I am suggesting is that we may find ourselves living in a society that is increasingly hostile to us. That hostility could run the gamut from mild shunning to persecution.
Not in America, you say? I wish it was so, but if history is any indication, we Christians may be in for a very bumpy ride.
I’m certainly no historian, but I do know how to Google “persecution of Christians.” And if only half of what the 20,000-word Wikipedia article says is true, making Christians suffer for their faith has been common since the time of Jesus. Romans, Muslims, Nazis, Communists, and others have all taken their shot. We are naive to assume the same cannot happen here.
So, in light of what appears to be ahead for Christians in America, the most germane question, as expressed by Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer back in 1977, is this: How should we then live?
How do followers of Jesus function in an America that will increasingly see Christianity as the problem rather than the solution? How will Christians have the courage and wisdom to stand simultaneously against the world, but for others, particularly those who have yet to know the Savior?
When the pressure comes, the answers may seem difficult and complex. But if it’s any consolation, millions of believers have been faced with similar dismal circumstances over the centuries, and found answers rooted in the same place we will – the eternal truths of God. Here are seven answers that come to mind. Feel free to add to my list in the comments below.
How should we then live?
1) We remain faithful in the ordinary disciplines of the Christian life like prayer, regularly sitting under the preaching of the Word, maintaining fellowship with other believers, participating in the Sacraments, sharing the gospel, and sacrificially serving others.
2) We look for ways to be the hands, feet, and mind of Christ wherever we live and to whomever God places in our path.
3) We live as if our next breath depends solely upon God’s grace, which it does.
4) We live in the truth that the Creator of the universe came not to fulfill our emotional needs, but to rescue us from ourselves and to make us more and more like Jesus. He will accomplish that.
5) We play our God-given role in fulfilling what we pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” That means being salt and light in a world that is decaying politically, socially, culturally, and more.
6) We recognize that although we live here now, this world is not our home. So, we avoid making an idol of any part of it.
7) We live with the sure hope that one day everything will be set right … forever.