Against the Grain
By: Pete Garcia
In ancient Roman times, if one wanted to be a good, moral, citizen, one worshipped and paid homage to the gods and to Caesar. What initially brought the ire of the Roman government down upon the early Church was its refusal to do either.
Early Christians were labeled ‘atheists’ and ‘cannibals’ for their refusal to worship the gods and because of their adherence to the Lords’ Supper, which many thought was the actual drinking of blood and eating of flesh. True Christianity cost you something back then. If you were in a particular trade or guild, and you didn’t worship the god of that guild, well, you soon found yourself out of a job.
If you attended an underground church in those days (usually in a home of another believer), you could be arrested and thrown in prison for “subversive” activity. And under the whims of certain Emperor’s such as Nero, Domitian, Marcus Aurelius, and Diocletian, you were killed in the arena for sport.
The Coliseum that we see standing today, was built under Vespasian, and finished by his son Titus. The money that was used to fund the massive project, was money plundered from the sacking of Jerusalem. To add insult to injury, it was then used as a symbol of Rome’s control of the masses by offering panem et circenses (bread and games) which often included the killing of Christian’s and their families to the roaring crowds of thousands. Christians were killed by wild animals, or by gladiator. Whole families were torn apart by lions and bears simply because they would not bend a knee to Zeus, or Caesar.
So it is becoming today, Christians once again find themselves at the wrong end of the religious spectrum. I don’t say we are fully in that same level of persecution today, but we can definitely see the clouds forming on the horizon. The only difference between today and the Roman times is that in today’s politically correct world, we don’t refuse the worship of Zeus or Diana, but that of the gods of tolerance and diversity. But they represent the same things.
Tolerance in and of itself, is not a bad thing. But when tolerance is applied theologically, in that we must tolerate all beliefs, true Christian’s must plant their battle flags. There is only one God (Being), and He exists in three Person’s: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We tolerate that other people have their beliefs, and we differentiate ourselves from let’s say, Muslim nations who do NOT tolerate other religions, but the toleration I am speaking of, is being applied to our belief itself, which of course would make Christianity polytheistic…which means it would no longer be Christian. (Matt 28:19-20)
Likewise, diversity in and of itself is not a bad thing. There is neither Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female in the body of Christ. We come in from all different backgrounds and all different ethnicities to form one body, and even in that one body, we are gifted with different spiritual gifts and talents. We are not all ears, or eyes. Some are toes and hands. The picture painted by the Apostle Paul is one of true, cultural and physical diversity. Yet, we all work toward one goal, and that is the glorification and exaltation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Salvation is not found in any other name or person. (1 Cor 12)
In fact, Christianity is unique in its simultaneous inclusivity (all may come) and also in its exclusivity, (only Jesus can save). No other religions, belief, philosophy, etc. offers eternal salvation for simply placing one’s faith in the object of worship. ALL other religions demand some form of works based, man-centric effort to become acceptable to said god. Christianity recognizes the fallen-ness and brokenness of man, accepts him or her where they are, and transforms them from the inside out through the regenerating and life-giving work of the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. (John 14:6)
I think that’s what irks the world so much about true Christianity. It’s unwillingness to bend on areas such as the deity of Jesus Christ, the inerrancy of Scriptures, the exclusivity of salvation, final judgment, and salvation by grace through faith. IF (and that’s a big if), Christianity could be proven wrong on any of these points, it would nullify the whole structure. If a “Christian” denomination or branch of Christianity were to concede on any of these points, it no longer is Christianity, but some aberration of it.
Army Strong or Army Wrong
Recently, an Army Lieutenant Colonel made some astonishing and outlandish comments about Christians and Christian organizations in an email made available by the American Family Association. In it, ‘hate groups’ are categorized ideologically into sub-groups: anti-gay, anti-Muslim (misnomer really), anti-immigrant (another misnomer-as no one is opposed to legal immigration), white and black power groups, and “anti”-government groups.
In this list, the LTC equates anti-gay as being as equally intolerable as racism. Considering that he attributes Christian groups as the biggest antagonists to the homosexual movement, does a huge disservice to those Christian African-American’s who were beaten, arrested, and killed in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. Wasn’t the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. mixed up in all this? He ignores the fact that the so-called “Religious Right” has not lobbied for legislation to segregate bathrooms, buses, water-fountains, or any other public meeting place in light of said aberrant behavior.
The so-called Religious Right has not dragged homosexuals out into the street and beat them, nor have they snatched them out of their houses in the dead of night to a lynching. In fact, what he deems the “Religious Right”, are really just concerned Christians and families who see an onslaught of destructive legislation pointedly targeting them (and us) for destruction, and dare to speak out against it.
The areas of contention primarily have been instigated by homosexual lobbyists against traditional families, marriages, or institutions. Anyone remember Chick Fil-A? They’re demanding that their lifestyle be embraced by all, despite the fact that there is zero reciprocation for Christians in like manner. We have to accept them no matter what the cost is to Biblical Christianity. It is increasingly coming to the point, that if anyone dares question or stand up for their beliefs, they are ridiculed, marginalized, fired, and cast out.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
What I find particularly spineless about the whole email, is the blatant rejection of history and reality. For starters, he pulls most of his resources from the Southern Poverty Law Center, in which, everyone knows is completely impartial and unbiased (JOKE).
Secondly, I don’t remember Christians flying planes into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon on 9/11. I don’t remember a Christian shooting up a Soldier Readiness Center at Ft. Hood. I don’t remember any Christians bombing Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist/etc churches and then beheading all who wouldn’t convert to Christianity. What reality is this LTC living in? Timothy McVeigh didn’t bomb the Alfred P. Murrah federal building out of his love for Jesus. The Branch Davidian’s weren’t anymore Christian, than Jim Jones was sane.
For the entire list of so-called “Christian” hate crimes, I can quadruple the substantiated evidence conducted by atheistic, Islamic, or other terrorist attacks. Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Kim Dynasty, and Adolph Hitler all promoted a form of state-worship or atheism (the state is the god) under various flavors of a Marxist-Leninist political ideology known as Communism. They collectively killed over 200,000,000 people. Where is this man’s angst against Communist groups?
I believe that this LTC is using his position of authority to impose his political ideology over his subordinates, by mandating from a strictly Democratic Party platform resource and party talking points. His notification to those under his chain of command, were they Republican, would almost immediately be violating his guidance. As one who leans Republican, were I in his chain of command, would already be in violation of his directives. I remember taking an oath to uphold the Constitution, not uphold Democratic talking points. As a Christian, I am already in violation of being a rebel, because I cannot accept his cultural standards of shifting values.
“When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen.” – George Washington
Christians will continue to come into direct and indirect fire as our national community continues its slide into the moral abyss. We will increasingly come at odds with a culture that increasingly embraces decadence, just as the early Church did when subjected to the polytheistic pantheon of gods the Greeks and Romans had. There is coming a day, and it is here, in which true, Bible believing Christian’s can no longer ride the fence impartiality. The world is forcing this upon us, and it will separate us as wheat is separated from the tares.
Christ, Christians, and Christianity, are considered a blight to this world. Considering who actually runs this world, I take that as a compliment. But we are more than a stain. We are an irritant. That is why Jesus said the world would hate us…because it hated Him first.
The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46)
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it”
Pearls are not considered Kosher to the Jews. They are formed in an oyster due to an irritation by a foreign object. The oyster secretes a nacre substance to cover the foreign irritant. It does this over and over until a smooth, polished pearl is formed. The Church which Jesus Christ Himself has built is a foreign irritant to this world and to the god of this age. Think about that for a moment.
Be Ye Salt (Matthew 5:13)
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men”
In the days before refrigeration, salt was used as a preservative. However, salt is also an irritant, try putting some in an open cut. We are to be salt, not only as a preservative, but because our nature is what it is, we are an irritant to the open, bleeding, festering wound that is this fallen world.
Be Ye Light (Matthew 5:14)
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”
Light not only provides illumination, which the Gospel does by changing lives. But light also exposes that which hides in the darkness. Evil prefers darkness, and we expose that, which again, makes us an irritant to the god of this age.
The Bible appropriately calls the gentile nations of this world, the ‘the sea’ aptly describing the unstable nature thereof. Cultural value will shift from generation to generation. What one generation deems inappropriate, the next embraces.
The last generation (religious and non) saw homosexuality as an abnormality. It was even classified by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a mental disorder. This generation embraces it as normal. This generation views beastiality, pedophilia, incest, and polygamy as aberrant, yet given our track record, you can see where we are heading.
As pilgrims and sojourners traveling through this enemy territory, we are going to be increasingly placed in situations where we are forced to either cower, or take a stand.
We are in this world, but not of this world. Remember that our calling isn’t to try and convert this fallen world and its institutions to become more Christian, that’s been tried before and it ends in things like the Crusades and the Inquisition.
Our calling is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. We can’t win the hearts and minds of those who are destined for an eternal hell, the Holy Spirit does that. We are to simply share the Good News, and live a life worthy of the calling. As Christians, we cannot serve two masters. Besides, we already have our orders…
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2