“… and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
– Acts 5:40-42
The frequency and intensity of attacks against Christians publicly stating that Jesus is the only way to salvation is increasing. This should not surprise us. Our society has for some time now become more and more secular, holding that any claims to absolute truth are arrogant, bigoted and hateful. This trend requires followers of Christ to exhibit Kingdom courage and endure.
Just last month the Southern Poverty Law Center, a so-called civil rights organization that espouses a philosophy closer to Karl Marx than to our Founding Fathers, made the outrageous declaration that organizations like Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council are “hate groups,” worthy of ridicule and perhaps prosecution. More recently Apple, the maker of the popular iPhone and computers, refused to include an iPhone application of the pro-family, pro-life, pro-religious liberty Manhattan Declaration because it deemed it offensive to homosexuals. You got that? You speak out against homosexuality and you will be punished by companies like Apple and perhaps even more disturbing is that Apple views the teachings of the Bible to be offensive, even dangerous. Think about that the next time you consider buying an Apple product.
None of this should surprise us. It has been this way from the beginning. There was no greater persecution than with the crucifixion of Jesus. Acts 5:40-42 tells us about the persecution the disciples faced. John Hus burned at the stake in the 15th century because he would not deny the Truth. Just this week Christian southern Sudan is holding a secession referendum that would free it from Arab-controlled northern Sudan, ending years of civil war that saw Christians crucified and enslaved by Muslims.
Theologian T. M. Moore of the Charles Colson Center for Christian Worldview has written brilliantly on the subject of kingdom courage. “For the better part of a generation now, Christians have been trying to navigate a careful course of non-confrontation with the secular elite, trying to avoid conflict and strife in an honest attempt to show respect and practice humility before our neighbors. But things have gotten out of hand, and our efforts to accommodate the demands of our unbelieving age have made us subservient to the secular agenda and captive to the spirit of the age.”
The Kingdom of God, Moore stresses, is like a growing stone, as Daniel foresaw (Dan. 2:44-45), and it will not be “contained or circumscribed by unbelievers” or by careless believers. Moore reminds us that Jesus said He did not come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword, and He promised that the sword of the Kingdom, which is the Word of God, would divide men and nations, even as it pierced the souls of many to bring them to salvation and everlasting life.
“Kingdom courage requires that Christians be prepared, in an increasingly secular age, to stand for Christ and His truth at every opportunity, in every situation, and by every means,” Moore says. “We must object when the unbelieving world transgresses truth; oppose false worldviews and the culture they support; attempt by every means to advance the Kingdom in all aspects of life; intervene against those who promote the Lie when their bluster threatens to obstruct the progress of truth; condemn sin wherever we find it and call sinners to repent; and defy every effort to stifle Kingdom speech and to contain our faith within the limits defined by the secular elite.”
Some will welcome our effort, some will ignore it and others will hate it. We must present ourselves graciously, forthrightly and considerately toward others as we engage. Those faithful to Christ should expect resistance (2 Tim. 3:12). So let us be obedient to God and endure as we strive to live under the Kingship of Jesus in an age in flight from God.
Don Hinkle / Editor