Culture Clashes Require Courage
March 5, 2020
by Jonathan Imbody
Barna research has reported that “Half of Christian pastors say they frequently (11%) or occasionally (39%) feel limited in their ability to speak out on moral and social issues because people will take offense. The other half of pastors say they only rarely (30%) or never (20%) feel limited in this way.”
No, despite their expressed feelings, the first cited group of Christian pastors are not “limited in their ability to speak out on moral and social issues because people will take offense.” They are limited only by their own fear.
These pastors need courage. So do health professionals. So does everyone who would follow Christ.
Christ-followers in times past had to confront culture clashes such as government-mandated idolatry, slavery, racism and more. We face new culture clashes in our country today, and like our spiritual forbears, we need to decide now whether we will run from or run to the battle.
- Will we affirm the false gender identity imagined by suffering and confused individuals and advanced by activists, or will we offer compassionate help grounded in biological evidence and biblical truth?
- Will we wink at non-marital sexual relations as normative, or will we promote the benefits of God’s design for man-woman marriage?
- Will we concede the fiction that women’s progress hinges on abortion, or will we work to protect the unborn and support pregnant women in crisis?
The biblical heroes Daniel, Esther and Stephen offer us examples to follow.
Faced as a teenager with the pressure to compromise his convictions and violate the clear commands of his God, “…Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself…” (Daniel 1:8, NASB). He simply resolved to do what he knew to be right, regardless of the cost.
Faced with the temptation to hide from an edict to destroy all Jews, Esther took life-risking action to save her people, resolving, “…if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16, NASB).
The early Church martyr Stephen did not soften the message for fear of offending the hearers and inviting their wrath. Stephen confronted a hostile congregation with uncompromising, soul-challenging, sharply dividing truth:
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:51-55, NASB).
Following Christ requires counting the cost. We must give up all to gain all.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25, NASB).
May God give us all the courage to stand and speak His truth, regardless of opposition, as courageous leaders and faithful followers.