Richard Cadbury created the first-ever heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in 1861. He and his family were deeply committed to their Christian faith. Morning prayers and daily Bible readings were conducted for their entire workforce. They used their influence and resources to serve those in need.
That was then; this is now.
The company, which was sold to Kraft Foods in 2010, dropped the word Easter from its annual Easter Egg Trail event in 2017. Now they have released a commercial including a same-sex kiss. The group CitizenGo describes the ad as “a highly-charged sexually provocative act.”
If you’re not shocked by this news, your reaction makes my point.
Church raises $2 million to provide counseling services
In an ever more secularized society, it is urgent that Christians redouble our commitment to the personal integrity that enables our public witness. As I noted yesterday, sin always affects more than the sinner. To stand publicly for Jesus, we must first spend time privately with Jesus.
The converse, however, is true: when we meet Jesus in person, we will stand for him in public.
John Baker experienced Jesus in a way that “transformed him from a driven businessman with an addiction to alcohol, a failing marriage, and alienated children to a Christ-follower with a passion to help others with their ‘hurts, habits, and hangups’ through the principles of recovery.” This is how Kay Warren, cofounder of Saddleback Church, described Baker, the founder of Celebrate Recovery, a biblical twelve-step program used by more than seven million people.
Baker died unexpectedly this week at the age of seventy-two, but not before God used his personal transformation to offer hope to the world.
In response to the psychological impact of the pandemic, an Arizona megachurch raised nearly $2 million to help people receive counseling services. In a similar response to the pandemic’s economic impact, a megachurch in Florida recently paid off approximately $38,000 in lunch debts for students in two local public schools.
Such commitments transcend even the enormous impact they make on those they serve by showing our skeptical culture the practical and redemptive difference our faith makes in the world.
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and this cultural moment
We have focused this week on the character and commitment required to stand for biblical morality in our post-Christian culture. Let’s close by considering the courage such a stand demands.
The evangelical Christian worldview is now in clear conflict with established public policy on a level unprecedented in American history. Our culture has previously embraced unbiblical immorality with regard to sexual promiscuity, LGBTQ issues, pornography, divorce, abortion, and euthanasia, but we were free to practice biblical morality in response. No one made us choose or provide an abortion. No one required us to sell pornography in a Christian bookstore. No one forced doctors to participate in assisted suicides or pastors to conduct same-sex weddings.
Now, however, the law of the land has endorsed same-sex marriage and may soon elevate LGBTQ persons to a protected class. The Equality Act was adopted by the House of Representatives yesterday; if it passes the Senate and becomes law, there will be no recourse to religious liberty.
As I have written previously, evangelicals are viewed as intolerant and discriminatory by our society just as if we were racists appealing to religious liberty to protect our bigotry. Refusing to perform a same-sex wedding is seen as prejudiced just as if we refuse to perform an interracial wedding.
My wife and I watched Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln again last weekend. The film, which tells the story of Lincoln’s resolve to pass the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery in 1865, is one of my all-time favorite movies. I found myself cheering all those who worked so hard to support the amendment and condemning those who opposed it.
Now I find myself on the other side of such a divide. Millions of Americans view me as I viewed the racists in the movie. Standing for clear biblical truth in the face of such opprobrium will require consistent courage over many years to come.
An urgent fact for all Christians
Such courage is vital because the faith we offer is so vital. Jesus is the way, truth, and life (John 14:6). Biblical morality is the best way to live for all of us, including LGBTQ individuals.
It is urgent that Christians understand this fact. If many roads lead up the same mountain, there is no reason to pay a price to convince others to take our road. If there were many ways to resolve World War II, the military sacrifices paid by so many were unnecessary.
If Jesus is not the only way to heaven, we need not face the ridicule of our secular culture for seeking to win others to him. If Peter was wrong in declaring that “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), there was no reason for him to give his life to share that salvation with the Roman world.
If Satan cannot convince you that Jesus is unnecessary for life and eternal life, he’ll try to convince you that Jesus is optional.
“Ashes in the embers of history”
In The Wisdom Pyramid: Feeding Your Soul in a Post-Truth World, Brett McCracken notes: “Everything ever tweeted and the most-viewed viral videos will be forgotten ashes in the embers of history, but the church will remain.” Even in our fallen culture, Jesus is building his church, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
Let’s close this week with an invitation to join him. Let’s seek the character, commitment, and courage we need from “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). When we work, he works. When we resolve to be like Jesus and to share the love of Jesus, we can ask Jesus to give us his strength and peace.
Paul said of our Savior: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (vv. 28–29).
For what or whom will you “toil” today?