That Christianity in America has come under increased criticism and even persecution should come as no surprise. The Bible assures us that in the last days opponents of Christianity will step up their efforts to stamp out faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, enemies of the Cross have had considerable success in attempting to remove religion from the public sector.
Friends, this is no time to cower in fear or bow to the tenets of political correctness. It is certainly no time to be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And yet, too many pastors, churches, organizations, and individual Christians are caving under the pressure, whether by remaining silent or by proclaiming such a diluted gospel as to have zero effect.
The Apostle Paul was thoroughly familiar with persecution, but he refused to waver. Writing to Christians in Rome he penned these words: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile” (Romans 1:16, NIV). Paul was later martyred for his faith in Jesus.
Our nation and the world are in a mess. The Judeo/Christian values and beliefs upon which our country was founded are under attack. The only hope for America and the world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is no time for retreat.
When you face harassment or persecution for the cause of Christ, how will you respond?
In September 2015, the administration for public schools in Roanoke, Virginia, received two complaints about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and its participation with public school football. The result? The FCA was barred from operating in the public schools. The Roanoke County superintendent stated, “Roanoke County Schools believes in the separation of church and state. We want to maintain and ensure that that practice is being followed.”
Two complaints coupled with total ignorance regarding what the separation of church and state really means was enough to end FCA participation with Roanoke public schools. Fortunately, FCA chapters across America and around the world continue to thrive. Thousands of young athletes have committed their lives to Jesus since FCA’s founding in 1954.
As a contrasting example, I remember some years ago when my wife was serving as the faculty advisor to FCA in the high school where she taught. She asked her principal for permission to invite a Christian mime group to minister at an upcoming FCA meeting. Squirming in his chair, the principal finally relented and granted permission, but not without a stern warning. He told her that if he received even one complaint about the group, he would shut down FCA. He meant every word.
The result? When the mime group performed the following week, the classroom where the meeting occurred couldn’t contain all the students who wanted to attend. Some had to watch from outside the room. The event served as a catalyst for more students to attend FCA meetings. Lives were touched, and God was glorified.
Let’s apply this to one more example—your example. We’re in the Christmas season. Political correctness in recent years has intimidated many in our country to remove the word Christmas from their vocabulary. This includes organizations, churches, and individuals. They’re more comfortable substituting “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.”
Friends, I encourage you stand up for the Gospel. It doesn’t take a huge effort, but it does take spiritual backbone. It requires courage. Let me share a few ways that you can be a witness for Christ this Christmas season. It starts with prayer, followed by a constant seeking for opportunities to stand for Jesus.
- Send Christmas cards containing Bible verses about the Christmas narrative
- Tell a friend or someone you know about a Christian movie you watched
- Say a blessing before your meal while dining at a public restaurant
- Invite a neighbor, co-worker, or even a family member to a Christmas Eve service
- Give a well-known Christian book as a Christmas gift
- Visit a nursing home and share the love of Christ with a few of the patients
- Leave your server a larger tip than normal with a short note containing a Bible verse.
One last thing. The Christmas season can get a bit hectic, and you’ll almost certainly be treated rudely at some point. Instead of getting angry or responding with ugly words or unkind looks, exercise self-control and let the offence pass. That’s the way Jesus handled those kinds of situations. Just remember that as a Christian, you are Christ’s ambassador. “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV).