In his famous Harvard commencement address, Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, "A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West in our days."
We as Christians must turn that criticism on its head. It is imperative that fear of rejection, criticism, or loss does not cower us into hiding our light. To live worthy of the gospel is to stand for God's truth without bending. As Paul urged the Corinthians, we are to "watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
Two men who recently followed Paul's admonition are the twin brothers David and Jason Benham. The Benhams are successful real estate entrepreneurs who were contracted to host a series on HGTV called "Flip It Forward." After filming a few episodes, activists discovered that the brothers were Christians and that David had made controversial comments about abortion and gay marriage in the past. Although the brothers' beliefs on these subjects had nothing to do with the content of their show, the activists pressured HGTV into canceling the program.
Afterward David Benham said, "I believe that God looks down from heaven and he sees men and women that will stand in the gap on behalf of the land and will rebuild the wall and get back to the foundations of true biblical Christianity."
Don't think because you are not in a high-profile situation like the Benham brothers that your stand for truth doesn't matter. It can make a big difference, as it did when an unknown man prayed on his knees in the snow outside a Maryland abortion clinic. Inside sat a young woman waiting to have an abortion. She looked out the window and saw a praying man, and his simple piety convicted her. She canceled her appointment and had her baby.
Wherever we are and whatever we do, we are called to be God's agent at that particular time and place. Whatever the situation, our task is really quite simple: To think about the cost; don't think about the result; just think about what you decided in advance that you would do when you are tested. God can use your courage in little things to accomplish bigger things.
Sometimes the persecution we experience may be nothing more than scorn or denunciation. Even so, it can make standing against prevailing opinion very painful. One of our deepest needs is acceptance, which is why we naturally seek the approval of our peer groups. But difficult as it may be, peer acceptance is one of the things we may be called to sacrifice. This means willingness to be labeled a prude for avoiding movies, books, speech, TV shows, and activities that promote immorality, sacrilege, or ungodly values. It means willingness to be labeled stupid for believing in creation, homophobic for rejecting homosexuality, anti-feminist for rejecting abortion, and intolerant for professing the exclusivity of Christ. As Paul put it, we must be willing to be "fools for Christ's sake," or even to be scorned as "the filth of the world" (1 Corinthians 4:10, 13).
John Piper wrote:
Following Jesus means that wherever obedience requires it, we will accept betrayal and rejection and beating and mockery and crucifixion and death. Jesus gives us the assurance that if we will follow him to Golgotha during all the Good Fridays of this life, we will also rise with him on the last Easter day of the resurrection.
We need more strong examples like the Benham brothers who are unafraid to defend unpopular truths and refuse to be silent when truth is trampled. Or like Hobby Lobby's David Green, who refused to back down when confronted with immoral government mandates. We need more leaders like Governor Mike Pence and the members of the Indiana legislature who refused to back down under immense pressure after passing a law strictly limiting the basis on which abortions can be performed.
It is our duty to stand up and speak out for biblical truth when it is attacked. But it is also our duty to confront with love, taking care that we do not justify the labels of hate and intolerance that some people slap on us. Paul gave us our rules of engagement: "Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat" (1 Corinthians 4:12-13). And Peter added that when faced with persecution, we must be prepared to defend our faith with reason and civility: "Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed" (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Watch Dr. David Jeremiah this Tuesday and Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Taken from "Is This The End?" by Dr. David Jeremiah. Copyright ©2016 David P. Jeremiah. Used by permission of W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.