Tag Archives: religious liberty

Is It Christ-like to Boycott Businesses for Their Politics?

I love Christmas, and I once boycotted my employer’s “Holiday” sweatshirts, because the company refused to provide any that said “Merry Christmas.” I like to wear a button that says, “Please wish me Merry Christmas.” I make a point of saying “Merry Christmas” to servers and cashiers who have obviously been instructed not to mention Christmas. I have my own agenda at Christmas, but I would never boycott a store or mall that refused to acknowledge Christmas.

Jesus is not about commerce, even though he expects that Christians will engage in it right along with everyone else. Actually, Jesus often spoke of various aspects of the business world, but always in the context of ethical practices and moral values. He never told his followers to refuse to do business with anyone who challenged his teachings. In fact, the content of the New Testament suggests to me that we do business with everyone in order that our Christian testimony may be manifest in our dealings for Christ’s glory, not for our own political agenda. Hence, I do not confuse commercial choices with worship options at church.

In fact, when I encounter a business that acts as if there were no such thing as Christmas, I want to go inside and brighten things up a bit. I like to tell clerks that I am shopping for Christmas gifts, because I teach my children about the gifts the wise men brought. Even if the clerks giggle, or if they frown, or if they look quizzical as if they do not know what I mean, I still like to make it clear that the birth of Jesus is the reason I celebrate at this time of year. I very well know that people of other religions and of no religion at all have their reasons for celebrating or for being a Grinch. Still, in this instance, I believe that I have just as much right to say, “I’m looking for the perfect sweater for my teen daughter for Christmas morning,” as I have to say, “I hope I can find the right scarf to accessorize my mother-in-law’s favorite dress for her birthday.” Nobody really cares about my mother-in-law’s birthday except our family, and some people would say that nobody cares about Jesus except Christians. Well, in a store that sells items that might be gifts, I think that I can mention Christmas and my reasons for celebrating it.

I do not think Jesus wants us to be annoying about his birthday. I do think Jesus wants everyone to know about him. There are all sorts of ways to say just about anything. I try to be creative and genuine in whatever I say. I do not plan all the words ahead of time, although I do think about them. I rely on Jesus’s promise to the disciples that whenever they were on trial for their faith, the Holy Spirit would give them the words. I rely on that promise during the Christmas season and during the rest of the year as well. The promise is for all times.

Therefore, the question is whether to boycott Starbucks for promoting homosexual behavior, or whether to boycott Target for refusing to specify gender in children’s clothing, or whether to boycott the anchor store at my local mall for refusing to use the word Christmas anywhere on its premises. Is a boycott the best way to let people know how you feel? What does your boycott say to these businesses?

My response to this sort of behavior by businesses is to say that the dark places of the world are the places where Christ’s light needs to shine. Take the name of Jesus into the dark corners of businesses everywhere. Take his love. Take his grace and forgiveness. Speak the name of Jesus in the midst of Satan’s strongholds and watch the fire spread.

Do not let Satan take control inside the businesses of the world and claim them as bombproof bunkers where God cannot penetrate. Open the doors and bring in the light. Be a flaming tongue and pierce the gates of hell or the doorways of business operations where Christ has been ejected. At the very least, wish everyone “Merry Christmas.” Who knows what else you may have the opportunity to say?

 

Advertisements

Don’t be a Kamikaze Kristian

Secular thinking drives the culture to something that reminds me of what was called “Kamikaze Kool-Aid” in my childhood. Whenever there was a party for children, it was common to offer two or three flavors of Kool-Aid, and each child could pick the color/flavor he liked best. Some children, however, preferred not to choose. They demanded some of every flavor/color, and the resulting drink looked a lot like the muddy water of the Mississippi River that bordered my home state, Missouri. We called that disgusting brown drink “Kamikaze Kool-Aid” in remembrance of the suicide planes our fathers had faced during World War II. It appears that contemporary secular culture activists want that same outcome in the culture–a muddy sameness, the end to any different viewpoints or practices. It reminds me of the movie The Wall, produced as a video exegesis of the Pink Floyd album by the same name. In that movie, cookie cutter children are conveyed in grey sameness to the end of a conveyor belt where they drop into a great void, all to the accompaniment of the song “We Don’t Need No Education.” I believe this is what secularists regard as their ultimate objective. When I think about it, it is amazing that this expose’ of the emptiness of secularism should have been produced by some of the culture’s leading proponents.

Kamikaze Kulture is a culture where are the external representations of an ethnicity may still remain evident, but each unique element loses its connections and identity in a social construct where the word equality is used to batter people into beings not much different from those grey, faceless children on the conveyor belt in The Wall. At a high level, the US government is attempting to force a cultural mix on neighborhoods, a blend as colorful as Kamikaze Koolaid , using the regulations labeled Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing to eliminate neighborhood covenants that protect the culture of the residents. On another promontory at that high level, the US government sponsors what is called “interfaith dialogue,” a fraudulent project designed to smudge the unique principles and practices of all religions into a Kamikaze Spirituality that makes no demands and gives no blessings but furthers a notion that the government is “accommodating” religion. This concept will ultimately erase the notion of religious liberty from the cultural memory. In the Kamikaze Kulture, religious liberty will not be necessary, because everybody knows that all ways lead to the same god who loves everybody and hands out Kool-Aid and cookies to all.

Running in powerful contradiction to the Kamikaze Kulture promoted by secular thinkers is the teaching of Christ, the second person of the triune God worshiped and served by Christians. Jesus, 100% God and 100% human, came to earth for the salvation of all humankind, but he is not one of the ways to God; he is the only way to God. In Christ’s teaching, people who live in relationship with him live in the context of eternal life while they are alive in time and space. Consequently their loyalty to Christ transcends their loyalty to any other being. They cannot give any “respect” to any other god, nor can they allow any human power to usurp their obedience to God. (They love and respect adherents of other gods, but they give no respect or honor to the other gods.) Christians love and serve their neighbors in complete obedience to the one true God revealed for our salvation in Jesus Christ, who now indwells every Christian in the powerful person of the Holy Spirit. This relationship does not permit mixed loyalties. It does not permit accommodation of lies or worship of any being except the one true God. The Bible is the revealed Word of God, given by God himself to his people as their guide for faith and life. A Christian obeys government and its laws, because God commands submission to and prayer for government, but when government attempts to usurp God’s place by making laws contradictory to God’s law, submission to God transcends the responsibility to submit to government.

There are people who self-identify as Christians who accept and promote that Kamikaze Kulture along with secular thinkers. These “Kamikaze Kristians” say that Christ is one of many good people who show us all how to live. They say that God is one of many ways to understand the same great god over the universe who loves everyone and wants people to be nice to each other. Kamikaze Kristians say that the Bible is a lovely but dusty old sacred book with some great poetry and exciting stories, but in their version of Kristianity, the Bible is no more special than the Baghavad Gita or The Sayings of Chairman Mao.

Christians who believe that Christian faith is exclusive, consuming, and pre-emptive are pitted not only against a government that wants religion to be neutered, but also against self-identified Christians who claim Christ’s name while working non-stop to dissolve him and his teachings into the spiritual goo of Kamikaze Kristianity. When someone like Kim Davis says that her faith teaches her not to participate in the sin of the government’s redefinition of marriage, the government that changed its definition of marriage and put her in this position can point to numerous Kamikaze Kristians who agree with the government that Kim Davis should “do her job” or else resign. These individuals claim the name “Christian,” but they don’t believe that the Bible is the final guide for faith and life, as Kim does. These Kamikaze Kristians say God would never be so unfair as to claim Jesus is the only way to him, and in that spirit, they allege that all religions lead to the same place. Kamikaze Kristians adopt the secular notion that humans have evolved past the words of ancient scribes who did not know nearly as much about human sexual relationships as we know today. Such a concept, of course, declares that they do not believe the Bible originated in the heart of God at all. The combination of secular thinking and Kamikaze Kristians results in very powerful forces arrayed against Christians who recognize in the Bible God’s revelation of himself and understand the Bible in the plain meaning of its words.

The precepts of interfaith dialogue similarly work to muddy any honest understanding of Islam and its threat to both Christians and the US government. Kamikaze Islam would be a religion of peace, love and getting along, not a religion of conversion at the point of a sword. Despite the determination of the Kamikaze Kulture to deny the real origins of the USA, historical documents make it clear that the people who founded the nation were people who believed the Bible and lived in relationship to Christ. There were certainly unbelievers in the mix, but the dominant cultural force was exerted by Christians, and their ideas about good government were rooted in their biblical understanding of what people need. They wrote a governing document, the Constitution, that showed respect for people’s right to choose what they believe while asserting government’s God-given authority to preserve peace and good order. Secular thinkers fail to notice that respect for a person’s right to choose and live by his own faith is a principle of biblical teaching, and they don’t see this right as the blessing of liberty; secular thinkers pretend to see Kim Davis abusing religious liberty, because in their view she is using religious liberty as the power to force her views on others. They do not see that protection of the “free exercise” of her faith protects her right to do what her faith compels her to do.

No governing document before the Constitution had ever expressed so powerfully the respect God shows for the right of the human beings he creates to choose what to believe and what principles to live by. The Constitution built a strong structure on the foundation of the rights documented in the Declaration of Independence. Neither the Declaration nor the Constitution tried to say that the writers of the documents were granting those rights; both of those documents relied on God as the source of those rights. The Constitution was always intended to establish a government as powerful as it needed to be for the areas in which it functioned while restraining that government to the smallest possible size to cover only the authority granted to it. That model set up an environment in which liberty, religious and otherwise was protected, the states could work together as necessary for promotion of internal and external commerce and the people could be protected from threats to the whole body of the states.

That model was designed by Christians inspired to limit people’s freedom only as much as absolutely necessary for the good of the states. They looked at the possibility that less freedom might mean more security. People whose ancestors had come to a wilderness along the Atlantic with no safety net whatsoever chose to come down on the side of more freedom, not less, believing that citizens would value the freedom and accept its risks gladly rather than live under tyranny. Contemporary secular thinkers apparently prefer tyranny, where nobody could be allowed to speak of or live by his religion, where nobody is allowed to choose his neighbors, where nobody is allowed to read all the research on any topic and decide for himself the way forward.

In the Constitutional model, religion was not regarded as the aberration of the ignorant, one aberration being no more desirable than another. The Constitution’s writers viewed religious faith as the source of a moral compass the culture needed. They encouraged people to inject moral and ethical questions into public discourse. They would be appalled at a debate among candidates for the powerful office of President of the United States that focused on questions such as, “Person A said this about you yesterday. What is your response?” They would have expected the questions in the debate to cover fiscal responsibility, commitment to federalism, and defense against international aggression. The Framers would have expected questions about the morality of the nation’s involvement in or withdrawal from the disintegration of the Middle East. They would have expected a candidate to be clear about his moral values and their source.

The Constitution’s model has now been abandoned in the interest of reducing every religion to a muddled flavor component of the Kamikaze blend of all religions as viewed by secular thinkers. Since even Kamikaze Kristians want people to keep their religion to themselves. the idea that anyone would reject the redefinition of marriage on moral grounds rooted in religious teaching is anathema. Kim Davis is not only on the wrong side of history in her moral views, but in their eyes, her words and deeds are an affront to all citizens, because in the view of secularists, nobody wants to hear anyone speak of religion in public, and certainly not in public office. If reporters in Lincoln’s day had operated by the same worldview as reporters today, we would not likely even know the words of many of Lincoln’s speeches, seasoned as they were with his faith convictions.

In today’s culture wars, someone who claims to be a Christian has a choice: be a Kamikaze Kristian and blend in, or be a faithful follower of Christ and stand out. It is actually the very same choice Joshua gave the people at Shechem at the end of his life. Israel had invaded a country where there were wide varieties of local gods and a few gods that were more broadly worshiped. Despite forty years of wandering in the wilderness where Moses and Aaron taught the people how to worship the God who provided blessing, security and provision for them every day, there were still Israelites who worshiped the Egyptian gods and even the ancient gods of the land Abraham had left behind. Israelites who trusted God to lead them to triumph over the political and religious power in Canaan faced battles not dissimilar to the culture wars in the US today.

Joshua called the tribes to meet at Schechem where the distribution of the land among the tribes was recorded. It is an interesting choice of location, because Schechem is the first location in Canaan where Abraham is recorded to have stopped and built an altar to the Lord. There, the Lord confirmed to Abraham that he had arrived at the land promised in Genesis 12:1, “the land that I will show you.”

Joshua gathered the tribes to this same place–Schechem. After documenting the final division of land among the tribes, Joshua stepped down from leadership in order to go to a place he would call home where he would conquer his assigned parcel and live in peace. Before he left, he made an important speech, and he said, “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

It is much easier to be a Kamikaze Kristian than to be a faithful follower of Jesus. The culture will always tell you what to do, what to say, and what to think if you choose the route of blending in. You can throw your colorful, unique flavor as a disciple of the living Christ into the muck of all the religions of the world and become anonymous in the mix if that is your choice. I don’t recommend it. When Jesus revealed himself to the apostle John, a vision John recorded in the book of Revelation, the dominant message of that whole vision was to Christians who might be tempted to quit making such a big deal of their beliefs. Jesus had a message for people tempted to blend into the sludge. Jesus spoke to Christians who might be tired of the insults every time they encouraged women to choose life rather than abortion. Jesus spoke to county officials who might be tempted to go along to get along since the federal government had declared an ungodly union to be a legal marriage. Jesus spoke to senators and representatives who would be bludgeoned for conducting hearings to reveal the truth about public officials who had lost their integrity. Jesus spoke to teachers who would be threatened with loss of their jobs if they allowed children to see a Bible on their desks. All these people and many more are tempted, pressured, battered daily to stop trying to “force their religion on other people” when they simply try to live their faith with integrity.

Jesus said, “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26). “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life” (Revelation 3:5). “Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown” (Revelation 3:11). “The  one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne” (Revelation 3:21). Don’t let go of Jesus. Be the real thing. Trust Christ. Believe his revelation in the Bible. Live in faithful relationship with him and be strong when the Kamikaze Kulture pressures you to do otherwise. Hold out for the big prizes. Do not become a Kamikaze Kristian.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com. Watch for the release of Thrive! Live Christian in a Hostile World, planned for release in the winter 2016

Bible Meditation

Open Bible10 Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
     In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
    For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
    In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”

  • The president of the United States recently said that the progressives in society need to ‘help’ those with deeply held religious beliefs overcome their convictions.  He said, “those who have come so far on their journey to equality have a responsibility to reach back and help others join them.”  What did the psalmist say about people who try to convince other people to abandon their faith principles and blend in with the culture?

    His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
    He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
    His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
    He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
        he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10    The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11    He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

  • This section of the psalm describes the people in the culture who watch for opportunities to crush the public expression of faith. Groups such as the Freedom from Religion Foundation frequently sue municipalities, churches and sometimes individuals for being too visible in the expression of their faith. How does the psalmist characterize their attitudes? Have you ever felt under assault by such forces?
  • The psalmist describes various offenses against individuals whose convictions grow out of the Bible. What contemporary events occur that are like the evils the psalmist knew in ancient times? How does this psalm bolster your conviction that God inspired these writings?

12    Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13    Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14    But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15    Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

  • Barronnelle Stutzman declined to provide flowers for a wedding ceremony for homosexuals. Aaron and Melissa Klein declined to bake a cake for a wedding ceremony for homosexuals. Elaine Huguenin declined to photograph a wedding ceremony for homosexuals. Each of these individuals made this choice in keeping with deeply held convictions rooted in Biblical teaching that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Each of these persons lived by faith shaped by the Bible and a personal relationship with Christ. What does the psalmist tell us about a culture where these people are regarded as criminals? What is his cry when these forces are arrayed against him?

16    The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17    O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18    to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

  • The culture expects that people with political and social agendas will march in the streets, scream at other people on television, and make snarky remarks about their opponents in the social media. What does this psalm teach Christians to do when the culture is exploding?
  • How do Christians achieve any impact on the culture?

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: Open Bible
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AOpen_Bible.jpg
By Wnorbutas (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0

Free Exercise of Religion–What is it?

Despite immense cultural pressure on Christians to keep their faith hidden from sight, many Christians continue to obey Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations,” and to “hold fast” to their testimony. Recently, a young marine was court-martialed, because she refused to remove from her work area a piece of paper on which was written a Bible verse. The court-martial apparently based its decision on the findings of hearing that determined that a command to remove the verse from her workspace was a lawful command that she refused to obey.

The details can be found here and here. The story is simple. Marine Lance Cpl. Monifa Sterling copied a verse from the Bible onto a strip of paper that she taped to her computer monitor. The verse said, “”No weapon formed against me shall prosper,” and was copied from Isaiah 54:17. The strip of paper contained only the words, however, not the reference. Most Christians would understand completely the reason a Marine might choose those words for both comfort and inspiration. Probably anyone would understand why this Marine chose those words, regardless of the source. In fact, people who saw the verse when they came to Lance Corporal Sterling’s desk might not even recognize the statement as a biblical quotation. They might very well think that these words are no more divine than “If you can dream it, you can do it,” a very common secular inspirational quotation. That fact makes it clear that the accusation that this verse constitutes a “divisive impact to good order and discipline” is a deliberate misrepresentation of the impact of the lance corporal’s little note on her computer monitor. Furthermore, it is hard to understand how the presence of this small strip of paper on a computer monitor constitutes being “festooned” as alleged by the court’s ruling.

Thoughtful readers may well wonder why the court chose to focus on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (or RFRA) as the basis for deciding the future of the young Marine who stood firm on her right to display this verse as the exercise of her faith, a right protected by the US Constitution. The RFRA was never intended to be the basic guide for determining when someone’s exercise of faith is in conflict with the compelling interests of government. RFRA establishes the principle that such conflicts must be resolved in the manner least onerous to the free exercise of faith guaranteed by the Constitution.

By stating that RFRA did not permit the display of this verse in the workplace, the court-martial completely missed the point of RFRA. It was probably not in the lance corporal’s best interests that she represented herself in that trial. Currently, she has engaged a lawyer, Liberty Institute volunteer attorney Paul Clement, who successfully defended Hobby Lobby when the might of the federal government infringed on the free exercise of faith by Hobby Lobby’s owners. Liberty Institute’s Director of Military Affairs, Mike Berry, points out that “If a service member has a right to display a secular poster, put an atheist bumper sticker on their car, or get a Star of David tattoo, then Lance Cpl. Sterling has the right to display a small Bible verse on her computer monitor.”

Did Lance Corporal Sterling refuse to obey a lawful order? The answer is a resounding, “No.” She received an unlawful order, because the order required her to give up her right to exercise her religion without hindrance. Her refusal to obey was justified, because the order was unlawful.

There is a concerted effort in the US today to eradicate all evidence that the people who founded this country served God and trusted him for guidance in their daily lives. Secular thinkers pretend that commitment to secular ideas is a different thing from religion, and they even allege that the original colonists believed in a wall of separation between sacred and secular ideas and behaviors. This misconception about the way of life of the original colonists and the teaching they embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution must be resisted and defeated.

The truth is that the colonists who came to the shores of North America would find it appalling that a Marine Lance Corporal could be denied the right to express her faith. They believed in the Bible as a guide for faith and life, and they would naturally expect that every military person serving this country would find comfort and inspiration in the Bible.

The Bible is where Lance Corporal Sterling found her guidance for a way of life that is fulfilling and satisfying. In the Bible, she found comfort in words that reminded her of God’s love for her and his power to protect her. Her response to that blessing is a life that is a constant expression of her faith in God. When she posted the words of  a Bible verse on her computer monitor, she exercised her faith and showed that she lived according to the teaching in the Bible that “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV). The First Amendment to the Constitution protects her right to do exactly that.

Every Christian must pray that God go with her lawyer, Paul Clement, and with Lance Corporal Sterling through all the coming court proceedings. They stand on the front lines for all people of faith who want to live their faith under the protection of the US Constitution.

 

 

 

Christ has Already Overcome the World

For Christians, life in the USA today feels like a war. There is a reason for that feeling. Jesus told us long ago, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV)

Prayer_Christ _in_the_Garden

The Founders and Framers of the USA were wise men. They were all men of faith, even though they might not all have expressed it in the same way. They all recognized the significance of faith in their own lives, and all were well aware that their lives would have been very different if the original colonists in North America had brought with them the power structure of state churches in the Old World. Some of the most egregious offenses to religious liberty in the New World were simply old bad habits. Some of the colonies had state religions, while others eschewed any such thing. After independence from England, when the colonies recognized that they needed each other for security and trade, they also discussed whether to have a state church. In the government they designed in the Constitution, a national established church was forbidden. State churches in individual states were not forbidden, and some were already in place. However, over time it became clear that the interests of liberty-loving citizens would best be served by keeping the church out of the political structure.

A study of the Bible makes it very clear that when religion integrates with politics and power structures, it becomes like them. Priests, pastors, and any other religious leaders are not immune to the temptations of power. Immersed in the political structures, they start acting like political animals. The oil of political progress, compromise, comes to seem like gospel, and when that happens, the Gospel is discarded in favor of “bipartisanship” or “getting things done.”

This does not mean that laws ought not to embody God’s moral teachings. The Founders never advocated that the nation put religion in a locked box and make up morality as the notions came to them. The people who fought for independence and then wrestled with the concept of self-government believed profoundly in the importance of morality expressed in the lives of citizens, especially in the lives and actions of citizen leaders. They firmly believed that the Constitution was shaped by their faith, and they believed that law and order in the new nation would also be shaped by moral and ethical constructs of people of faith. They did not believe it was wrong to live and act by faith; they did believe that it was wrong for government to tell people what faith they had to live by. The Founders and Framers expected that people would want the body of law in the new nation to have a moral and ethical flavor in keeping with their personal moral and ethical principles. Government of, by and for the people should have the same moral flavor as that of the people governed.

The design of the Constitution means that Christians must influence the culture by being distributed throughout, expressing and acting on faith wherever they are. Jesus said the same thing when he said that we were to be salt and light. Instead of being the power at the top, Christians best influence the culture by being distributed through all the layers of the culture. When ordinary citizens like Crystal O’Connor simply live and act on their faith, the faith is most faithfully preserved and protected, and the culture is most powerfully influenced. As a consequence of her act, people who donated to a crowdfunding project on her behalf cast thousands and thousands of “votes” for faithful obedience to God’s moral teachings.

The crucifixion of Jesus demonstrates what the powers that be in the world will do to expressions of faith. The priests and church leaders were utterly absorbed in the political structure of Jerusalem and the Roman Empire. Their influence as God’s witnesses operated like a mold, not a seasoning. A mold is strong, solid, and unforgiving. A culture pressed into a mold will have all the noncompliant elements carved off. A culture seasoned with the salt and light of faith in Christ promotes the best expression of all the different ingredients.

There is a nonreligion in the USA today that is creating the role of the state church. This religion says that there is a mold all people must fit, or be carved and prodded till they do fit. The peculiar aspect of this nonreligion is that it loves all religions except Christianity. This nonreligion read news that Muslim bakers refused to bake wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies that pretend to be weddings, but the nonreligion was not even interested in hearing about it. There was no Twitter war against a Muslim bakery that rejected participation in homosexual sin.

This nonreligion advocates “interfaith dialogue” where many religions get together, pour all their convictions down the disposal, and agree to adopt the secular language of diversity and inclusion. Instead of worshiping their individual gods, the various religions agree to worship the god of “getting along” by never differing from one another over such trivial issues as a real god or a fake god. Much better to light some candles and hum a meaningless syllable for hours than to fundamentally transform sinful human nature into something better.

Christians will never win this war. Christ wins this war. It is a secular teaching that if you believe something strongly enough you can make it real. Christians do not believe in an idea. Christians do not believe in themselves. Christians believe in Christ. Our faith, our words and our deeds participate in the victory, but they do not bring the victory to pass. Right now, the world is simultaneously trying to ignore us and to clobber us. It will not succeed in either goal, because Christ himself has overcome the world. The world’s apparent victory at times is only temporary. People like Crystal O’Connor participate in the ultimate victory of Christ before it even happens by testifying to their faith by word and deed. May all Christ’s followers be encouraged and motivated to do the same thing. We will not bring the victory of Christ to pass, because on the cross, he has already won the victory. If we fail to testify to it by our faithful words and deeds, it is not Christ who loses. We lose.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABaltasar_de_Echave_Orio_-_The_Prayer_in_the_Garden_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Baltasar_de_Echave_Orio_-_The_Prayer_in_the_Garden_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

By Baltasar de Echave Orio (ca. 1558 – ca. 1623) (Spanish) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons