Culture is changing rapidly on a while range of issues, especially in the area of sexuality and gender. Laws are falling in behind the changes. Bible-believing Christians are increasingly on the defensive – the idea of being an ‘exile’ is easier to feel now than not too many years ago. Standing up for historic Christian principles will increasingly get you in trouble socially and maybe economically, perhaps one day also criminally. It’s ironic that Christians are told not to impose their views on others, even as the threat of job loss or other penalties loom over Christians for not toeing the new party line.
Despite all of this, we have no grounds for panic. Here are four principles for surviving the very real cultural shifts we’re presently enduring.
1. Remember that churches exist to work for supernatural change. The whole Christian faith is based on the idea that God takes people who are spiritually dead and gives them new life. Whenever we evangelize, we are evangelizing the cemetery. There’s never been a time or a culture when it was natural to repent of your sins. That culture doesn’t exist, it hasn’t existed, it never will exist. Christians, churches, and pastors especially must know deep in their bones that we’ve always been about a work that’s supernatural. From that standpoint, recent cultural changes have made our job zero percent harder.
2. Understand that persecution is normal. We learn in 1 Peter that persecution is situation normal, Jesus was also clear on this (e.g., John 16). Jesus we follow was executed as a state criminal. If we take him seriously, our ethic will have us at odds with people around us, and so they oppose us.
There’s no need for us to play the victim, we just keep following Jesus and serving others, even if it means social criticism, or loss of privilege, or financial penalties, or criminal prosecution.
3. Remember: home is heaven. Christians should be a people of love and justice, and that means we should always strive to make our little corner of the globe a bit nicer than how we found it, whether that’s a kindergarten classroom or a kingdom. But even as we work for the sake of love and justice, we must remember we’re not going to transform this world into the kingdom of God. We don’t make this world perfect, we point to the One who one day will.
7. Rest in the certainty of Christ’s victory. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ. We need not fear and tremble as if Satan has finally, after all these millennia, gained the upper hand in his opposition to God through the same-sex marriage lobby. “Oh, we might finally lose it here!” No, not a chance.
We may not be able to out-argue others. They may not be persuaded by our books and articles. But we can love them with the supernatural love God has shown to us in Christ. And we can make his Word known today—with humility, with confidence, and with joy.
*Adapted from an article by Mark Dever, Gospel coalition