Here it is. This is the perfect encapsulation of the mind-numbing frustration so many of us Christians feel these days when engaging a wayward and rebellious culture:
Man: I want to do "x."
Christian: You are free to do it.
Man: But you think "x" is wrong.
Man: Because you want to control me and tell me how to live?
Christian: No. You are free to do what you want.
Man: But you think "x" is wrong.
Christian: Yes. Because God says "x" is harmful and I don't want that for you. I desire your ultimate good.
Man: But I want to do "x."
Christian: And you are free to do it.
Man: But I want you to say that "x" is good.
Christian: I cannot say that.
Man: Why do you hate me?
One of the first times I saw this example articulated, it was within the context of the Roman Catholic Church and how it relates to the world.
But applied generically to all God-honoring, Bible-believing Christians, this synopsized exchange perfectly illustrates the emerging reality for those with a proper Christ-centered theology and worldview when it comes to interacting with contemporary American society.
- Why does the Southern Poverty Law Center consistently place mainstream, orthodox Christian churches and organizations on their thoroughly discredited "hate list?"
- Why do major media outlets fall all over themselves in a tireless effort to assign Christian credentials to a family of political activists in Topeka, Kansas that call themselves "Westboro Baptist Church," despite possessing no affiliation with Baptist doctrine or Christ's church?
- Why do progressive social media influencers peg all politically-engaged believers as advocates of some mysteriously undefined, but nefarious sounding "white Christian nationalism?"
- Why do pop stars make lyrical demands that Jesus followers "calm down," while smearing them as purveyors of homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia?
There is an easy answer to all these questions, and the Gospel of John gives it:
"This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed." (John 3:19-20)
It's not a difficult concept for one whose mind is guided by the Holy Spirit…
When a person encounters the presence of Jesus – either reading Scripture, hearing a gospel presentation, or engaging a Christian in the public square – it is accompanied by a profound awareness of their own depravity and need for a Savior. Christ's light shines brightly into our own darkness and exposes us. We are left bare, recognizing that even our best deeds are like filthy rags in comparison to the glory of God.
At that moment, we are all presented with a choice: (1) fall on our face in repentance, accepting the grace we don't deserve, and receiving a new heart focused on obedience to Christ's will over our own; or (2) run as far away from God as possible, because the nearer we come to Him and His brilliance, the more we (and everyone else around us) becomes aware of our corrupt and evil ways.
That is precisely why those who worship themselves, those who choose to live worldly lives, those who reject the truth, react so contemptuously toward Christians.
We believers are witnesses to, and conveyers of a light that reveals the dark, self-serving human nature that worldly man remains willfully enslaved to. It is illogical to believe that such souls will ever be content until that light is extinguished and their deeds can again be shrouded in darkness.
That is why there is the incessant need to compel Christians not just to tolerate sinful excess, but to approve of it. Doing so places a bushel over the light we carry, providing a momentary salve for the guilt of the unrepentant heart. It's a temptation for a believer because it also takes the target off our own back temporarily. After all, if we give approval of their ongoing rebellion to God, we no longer represent a threat to them.
But while that choice pleases the ungodly and allows us to find favor in eyes of the world, it also betrays our divine charge. Despite any earthly consequence that may come our way, we believers are to remain steadfast in our witness of righteousness in Christ alone. We hate what sin does to people, know there is but one cure, and dedicate our lives to pointing others toward it.
May we remember that far from a burden, testifying to His truth and bearing any earthly cost associated with doing so has always been, and will always remain a Christian's highest honor.