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An interview with Oprah Winfrey aired yesterday in which she signaled she may be open to running for president. She now joins a list of celebrities such as Kanye West, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Tim McGraw who have speculated publicly about running for office. If they do, they can expect a level of public scrutiny they’ve never experienced before. The higher the mountain, the harder it is to climb.
The same principle holds for Christians. If you serve Jesus, you can expect opposition from everyone who is opposed to your Lord (John 15:18).
It’s no surprise that religious persecution in China is intensifying as the government seeks to curb the rapid growth of Christianity in the formally atheistic country. Catholic nuns in the Democratic Republic of Congo are coming under increasing attacks from vandals who are destroying convents and churches. As Christianity spreads rapidly across Africa, such oppression will likely intensify.
Believers in America seldom face life-threatening persecution. However, we are watching the culture slide away from biblical morality with increasing speed. For instance, the latest version of Beauty and the Beast has a gay scene between LeFou and Gaston. Disney just aired its first-ever gay cartoon kiss. Creators of Moana say they wouldn’t rule out an LGBT Disney princess in the future.
Moral relativism has untethered our culture from objective truth and Judeo-Christian morality. As a result, we have witnessed seismic shifts on life’s most essential issues, from abortion to same-sex marriage to euthanasia. How should Christians respond?
One: Know why we believe what we believe.
Our faith is more than an opinion we hope others will tolerate. It is founded on empirical, historical facts: the Bible is truth and Jesus rose from the dead. Don’t believe the deception that your faith is just one “truth” among many. It is grounded in a reality that the entire universe will one day acknowledge (Philippians 2:9–11).
Two: Know why others believe what they believe.
In a world without truth, our culture tolerates all opinions. It is tempting to tolerate others’ sins so they’ll tolerate ours. If we ask why people think the way they do, we’ll be better prepared to help them think biblically (1 Corinthians 9:19–23).
Three: Fight the real enemy.
Those who advocate for abortion on demand or same-sex marriage or euthanasia are not the enemy. Many hold their beliefs sincerely and are genuinely convinced theirs is the best position for society. The enemy is not those who are deceived but the one who deceives them. Jesus called Satan “the father of lies” (John 8:44). God wants us to love those with whom we disagree (Matthew 5:44), grateful that he feels the same way about us (Romans 5:8).
Four: Do what you can while you can.
Whether more celebrities run for office or not, more Christians should. We should use our influence wherever and however we can to glorify Jesus and advance his Kingdom. Scripture is clear that “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Millions of Christians took part in Ash Wednesday yesterday. As ministers outlined the cross in ashes on participants’ foreheads, they spoke the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
There is no time like the present, because there is no time but the present.
A note to preaching pastors: I will soon begin “Cultural Preaching,” an email resource that is only for preachers. My periodic emails will contain current news, facts, and cultural illustrations you can use in your sermons and teaching. No one else in your congregation will receive this content from us. If you would like to be on my distribution list, submit your request here identifying yourself as a preaching pastor.
Also, I will soon be announcing my online resource library containing sermons, Bible studies, articles, and essays. It will be available to pastors as well as the public, but Cultural Preaching will be available exclusively to preachers. Once your request has been received and verified, I will send you a confirmation. There is no cost, of course, and you can request to be removed from the distribution list at any time. Thank you for your ministry—know that it will be a privilege to partner with you in sharing God’s word with our world.