Here we stand
By Rev. Dr. Howard S. Russell, CHM President & CEO
From the May 2019 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.
For young people following Christ, it’s rough out there.
Actually, these days it’s rough for everyone.
Evidence pointing to the truth of the Gospel of Christ is how many people have tried, are trying, and will try, to destroy it. It’s relentless, on radio, television, books, magazines, in schools and workplaces.
The message is that Christianity is boring, dull, restrictive, and tries to prevent you from having fun and doing things such as getting drunk or using drugs, having sex, using foul language, and more—things like that.
Bible-believing Christians are routinely depicted as hypocrites and haters. Conversely, people who don’t believe the Bible, or who reject the idea of God, seem equally as routinely characterized as thoughtful, tolerant, or open-minded. That’s because the people engaged in such descriptions typically identify themselves as non-Christians. Sometimes, if they’re honest, they simply declare they’re anti-Christian.
While taking a college humanities class, a friend of mine listened to his professor at the start of the term say, “We’re going to discuss many religions in this class, and I’m not going to praise or criticize any of them.”
During a class discussion a few weeks later the professor said, “There is no way a thinking person can believe in Christianity.” Everyone in the room just kept listening, not reacting. The teacher was the authority, the person who decided their grades.
My friend raised his hand. “Yes?” the instructor said.
“You said you weren’t going to do that.”
“Criticize religions. You just criticized Christianity. You said you weren’t going to do that.”
He said the instructor didn’t particularly care for being called down in front of the class, and showed it. The moment was tense.
At the end of the term, my friend received an ‘A’. But it could have gone the other way, which he knew when he raised his hand.
Everyone reading this probably has experienced an incident in which you were either personally attacked or saw it happening to another Christian. And when you see the never-ending promotion of evil in the popular culture, and condemnation of biblical behavior, you wonder what’s happening.
Actually, nothing is happening today that wasn’t prevalent in the first century. Christians have been the object of derision and persecution since the Lord Jesus Christ walked the earth. And it will always be so until Christ returns. What we enjoy as Americans is the benefit of living in a country with the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Sometimes it seems as if the “free exercise” has been tossed on the scrapheap of anti-Christian feeling. Nevertheless, the Bible doesn’t call on us to respond in the same manner as those who condemn us. Blessed are the meek, merciful, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake, said our Lord.
None of that says we are to be doormats. We must let the light shine.
When Martin Luther was called before a church council ordered by the Holy Roman Emperor because his beliefs ran counter to accepted thinking, he is reputed to have said, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Sometimes, we have to raise our hands and say, “That’s not right.”
In the final analysis, the outcome has already been decided. Several years ago I shared a quotation from C.S. Lewis. In this time of Christian trial, in some cases around the world where Christians are dying for their faith, it remains a poignant statement:
“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
Here we stand. We can do no other.