“Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24)
On Tuesday of this week, the White House hosted what it called “the first-ever Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights.” The forum included officials, business men and women, faith leaders, and other participants from around the world. There were panel discussions and breakout sessions which were all framed toward the common goal of “promoting and protecting the human rights and dignity o LGBT people wherever they are threatened around the globe.” The keynote address at this forum was given by Ambassador Susan Rice who happens to be National Security Advisor for President Obama. Her speech highlighted all that the Obama Administration has done to advance the rights of LGBT people both here in America as well as around the world. Her speech can be accessed in its entirety at www.whitehouse.gov. When I read it, I was amazed at all the “religious” language that it used to try and justify same-sex relationships. Rice praised the Presbyterian Church (USA) for their vote last week to allow their ministers to perform same-sex ceremonies. There was one sentence in the speech that absolutely stunned me. Speaking to those faith leaders who were present, she said, “For the faith community, how can we reinforce to religious groups that God loves all the children of his creation equally?”
It is true that God loves His creation. It is also true that God’s creation is marred by sin, and the price for creation’s redemption was the life of the Son of God. So many falsely appeal to God’s love while denying His holiness and sovereignty. Notice the word “reinforce” in Rice’s statement. Friends, this is a statement from an official in the administration of the President of the United States of America, a statement which blatantly says to religious groups far and wide who do not agree with same-sex marriage, “We’re coming for you.” As our culture in America continues to move farther and farther away from biblical standards, it will become increasingly difficult to be a follower of Jesus who believes Scripture and has a scriptural, Christ-centered worldview. The church that holds to the authority of Scripture and the supremacy of Jesus Christ will be increasingly marginalized in the days to come. We will continue to be painted as narrow-minded extremists, and the price for discipleship will be high. By highjacking religious language, there is a new morality being preached these days by same-sex marriage advocates. Suddenly, it has become “immoral” to the culture for Christians to disagree with homosexuality. Wrong is now right, right is now wrong, and we are in a tailspin as a culture. Farewell, cultural Christianity.
The cost of discipleship has never been higher in American culture. We no longer live in a culture that sees evangelical Christianity in a positive light. This should not be surprising to us, for this has always been the norm with New Testament Christianity throughout the centuries. Those early disciples gave their lives for what they believed in. They were mocked, scorned, and persecuted for declaring to their culture, “Jesus is Lord.” The days of cultural, nominal Christianity are over…and I for one am glad. It is time for serious minded devotion to Jesus Christ, not casual lip service. These are days that call for radical discipleship and redeemed lives that are noticeably different from the culture. Jesus is Lord, and His followers are the light of the world. Light always shines the brightest when it is dark. No longer will people in the church be able to hide behind a façade or mere veneer of Christianity. Those who declare without apology that Jesus is Lord will be increasingly harassed, mocked, and ridiculed for their bold faith. Disciples refuse to live by the dictates of their culture, but take their stand with Christ and gladly embrace the cross. Jesus said that no person could be his disciple without first denying self, taking up their cross, and following after Him.
While it is certainly true that things are changing at a breakneck speed in our day, we have no reason to fear or lose heart. These are exciting days for those who are serious in following Jesus. Farewell, cultural Christianity. Welcome, thou blest cross!