Learning How to Live with Each Other

Right now I am in the midst of rehearsals for a local production of 1776. If you have never seen the show, it is a musical about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Ever since I saw the movie as an eight year-old I have wanted to play the role of Benjamin Franklin, and now I have my chance! It is going to be a lot of fun.

One of the pivotal moments in the show occurs when the issue of slavery arises. The southern colonies object to Thomas Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration because it expresses criticism of slavery, and the southern delegates walk out en masse. Benjamin Franklin concludes that the clause will have to be deleted in order to regain their votes for independence. This compromise elicits an angry response from John Adams, and an equally impassioned reply by Franklin – Continue reading

A Time for Cheerful Courage

Saint-Georges et le dragon (St. George and the Dragon), Gustav Moreau, 1889-1890

In just a couple of days, the Obama presidency will end and the Trump presidency will begin. What will not change is the primary loyalty of Christians. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” says Paul in Philippians 3:20, and no election can change that. By the same token, no election can fundamentally alter the hostility the world feels toward the lordship of Christ. And while the new administration may be less prone to use the levers of government to limit religious freedom, there is no doubt that the broader culture’s hostility toward the faith is only going to intensify.

In other words, we have come to the very circumstance facing the readers of Peter’s first letter. These Christians were not yet in the crosshairs of the government, but they were on the receiving end of growing social hostility against the church. The pagans “speak against you as evildoers,” Peter says in 2:12. The Christians were “slandered,” and their good behavior was “reviled”(3:16).  He goes on to say that the unbelievers “malign” (4:4) the people of God, and that his readers are “insulted for the name of Christ” (4:14).

So these disciples were scorned by the pagans around them for the moral commitments they made. The civil government, however, was not yet involved. In fact, Peter says that under ideal circumstances the government will protect Christians from anything worse happening (2:14). But it is clear that Peter sees trouble on the horizon, a time when even doing good would not spare Christians from harm (3:13-14a).

We are facing much the same situation today. Anyone who publicly challenges the prevailing dogmas of our decadent culture on issues like same-sex marriage can expect ridicule, insults, and contempt. A pleasant fellow on Twitter once told me he was praying for me to break my neck! And the power structures of the media, academia, and big business have made no secret of the social pressures they seek to accelerate against us if we openly stand for the gospel.

So how should we respond? Continue reading