Squishy Evangelicals and Enduring Persecution

Lately, and especially in the run-up to the election, I’ve noticed that a lot of big-name Evangelical leaders, a.k.a. ‘Big Eva’, have gone squishy on some pretty significant issues. Issues like abortion, Critical Race Theory, and even gathering to worship in person have become nuanced to the point where, to hear these Big Eva types tell it, it’s all really a matter of opinion and the only real way to be wrong is to be too conservative. It’s bugged me for a while, but I think I’ve figured out why: they don’t want to offend the world. They don’t want to be called racist, so they elevate social ‘justice’ to being a ‘pro life issue’, which lets them make space for the woke, rather than calling out their blatant hatred. They go soft on homosexuality, saying God ‘whispers’ about it in scripture, so they won’t be called homophobic. They make space for the false religion of Critical Race Theory, again, to avoid the label of racist. All the while, they’re happy to dunk on conservative Christians, while exempting liberals from any significant critique. Why the partiality towards left-leaning political causes? By and large, I think it’s because the Left is mean. If you go against the Left, they’ll smear you as a racist, homophobe, bigot, sexist, and any other insult they can think of. They might even get you cancelled, banned from Twitter, and considered persona non grata by the media.

Now, my point here is not to rag on Big Eva, rather, I want to use their squishiness as a springboard to talk about the same tendency in our own hearts because, if we’re honest, we can all be pulled that way. It’s not fun to be thought of as backwards, bigoted, and all the rest of the Leftists’ litany of insults, and the daily pressure to conform is not only real, but I expect it is going to increase. In our lifetime, we could very well see Christians sent to jail for practicing their faith, in America. We’ve already seen churches, like Grace Community Church in California, fined by the government for meeting together like God commanded.  How long until someone goes to jail for ‘hate speech’ because they said homosexuality is a sin, or abortition is murder? Both of those positions already draw massive ire from the Left.

Now, nobody in Big Eva says that they’re going soft on liberals because they’re scared. Rather, they rationalize it as ‘contextualization’. The theory goes that if we don’t make the Left mad at us, we can spread the Gospel to them… somehow. This sounds nice, until you realize that it’s not Biblical. Like, at all.

Recall Acts 19:23-28, when a silversmith named Demetrius sparked a near-riot over Paul’s teaching. Demetrius’ issues were that he made shrines to Artemis, and, since Christians don’t buy or worship statues of false gods, Christianity was both hurting his bottom line and directly contradicting his religion, which was a very offensive notion in the polytheistic Roman Empire. In other words, Demetrius and his friends were triggered. Did Paul go soft on them? By no means. Paul didn’t try to appease them even a little bit. In the same way, we need to be uncompromising in the truth, no matter how triggered other people get.

Jesus Himself told us to expect this in John 15:18-21:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they followed My word, they will follow yours also. But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know the One who sent Me.

The world is going to hate us, because they hate Him. This is a simple fact. Jesus doesn’t tell us to try to appease His enemies because they hate us. He tells us that they will hate us. There can be no compromise with the world, there are only two options: steadfast commitment to the whole council of God, or surrender. There is no third way. If a church tries to compromise and come to an understanding with the world, it will end up just like the liberal mainline denominations, a false church with a false gospel, saving no one. 

The same is true of us individually. We can’t start compromising with the world by going soft on sin. Jesus wasn’t soft on sin, even though He ate with sinners. Rather, He evangelized them; see Mark 2:16-17. In the same way, the Apostles and Prophets were uncompromising in calling out sin. The same is true of the Early Church, and the Reformers. We rightly admire the courage of all of these preceding groups, and so do the people in Big Eva. What we all tend to forget is that this kind of courage has a cost. The prophets were murdered, and so were the Apostles. The early Christians were persecuted and martyred for their faith. The Reformers likewise were persecuted for staying true to the Scripture. That’s the part nobody likes to talk about; the part where we get persecuted for our beliefs.

What all of these people understood was that Christ is worth following, no matter the cost. At the end of even the most persecuted Christian’s life, they will immediately be with Jesus forever. This is not some kind of consolation  prize; rather, it is the greatest thing that can ever happen to someone. Even more than that, He will come back some day to establish His kingdom over the whole world and finally He will establish a new heaven and a new earth where there will never again be any sin, sorrow, or strife. We need to keep in mind that the battle isn’t just between us and the world, but it is between Christ and the world; and that is why they hate us, because they hate Him. Our role isn’t to try to out maneuver the world, to be more clever, or to make them like us. Like good soldiers, we are to follow the orders of our Commander, no matter how unpopular they are with the enemy, and leave the rest to Christ. The brightest minds in the world cannot outsmart Him, they cannot stop Him, they can’t even slow Him down. As He said Himself in John 16:33:

In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

Stay faithful. Don’t be ashamed when sinners try to shame you for saying what God says; He has declared you righteous. Don’t feel bad when they’re triggered by the Gospel, God is pleased with you. In the words of the Apostle Paul:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?(Romans 8:31)

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