The Best Book You've Never Read
I hear all the time from Christians how hard it is to be a believer in the times we now find ourselves. I am not disagreeing, but I am also wanting to keep perspective.
Even when I was growing up (just a few short years ago since I am so very young), being a Christian was culturally normal. In fact, in most churches and ministries where I served, we had to fight something called 'cultural Christianity'. Cultural Christianity is exactly what it sounds like: someone who wants to live a decent moral life and fit in in the culture declares themselves a Christian. They can learn the lingo and what to do/not do to pass as a "Christian".
A lot has changed since then:
Wednesday nights used to be sacred church nights and sports teams and schools did not schedule anything on that day, because those in the community were unavailable.
A Christian view of sex being reserved for the confines of the covenant bond of marriage used to be celebrated where now it is ridiculed.
We used to be very comfortable speaking our minds and standing for our faith. In fact, many times it would have been harder to oppose the Christian faith than to endorse it publicly.
My how times have changed.
I get it, that we are a bit ‘oppressed’ in that sense. Times have changed. But we need to be careful.
Do you live with the fear, as Christians in some countries do today, that if you get baptized to profess faith in Christ you could literally be murdered for your belief?
Do we need to move Rockland underground for fear that the government will imprison us for teaching about Jesus?
Do you think you will lose your job and be excommunicated from society if you have a Bible at the office?
Do you realistically fear that we will not be able to open the Bible and preach it in all its Truth this Sunday morning?
As appalling as some of the new norms in our culture are (and believe me, they are) I still don't want to get into an "I'm-Oppressed-For-My-Faith" contest with the early Christians. I would lose.
The early Christians were martyred for their beliefs in Jesus. They stood in front of emperors and boldly proclaimed that there was a greater King that had come and was coming back. They were fed to lions, burned at the stake, and ostracized from their families, communities, and countries.
I know things are worse right now then they were 20 years ago, but let's be honest - none of us is getting fed to lions.
Wouldn't it be nice to know how to stand strong and persevere well in these times from some who have had to endure so much more?
The next several weeks we will be studying 2 Timothy (pronounced, "Second Timothy" rather than "Two Timothy", and fully named "Paul's Second Letter to Timothy").
Timothy was a pastor at a large church in Ephesus and was Paul's protege. Paul sent him some godly counsel about how to stand strong in the midst of heresy, an unfriendly government, and other enemies from inside and outside of the church.
They did it in much worse conditions than you and I face today, so we can, too.
See you on Sundays for a great look at a beautiful letter from Paul to Timothy. We will see how to stand strong and be unshakable in the storms of our times.