The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Researchers have identified the US cities with the highest rates of marital infidelity, comparing two hundred of the largest metro areas with regard to relationship satisfaction, life satisfaction, infidelity intent, and affair activities. The results are in: the three most “unfaithful” cities in America, in order, are Dallas, Texas, Fort Worth, Texas, and Houston, Texas.
This news hits close to home for me: I have lived in Dallas since 1998, I worked for many years in Ft. Worth, and I was born and raised in Houston.
We in Dallas refer to ourselves as the “Buckle of the Bible Belt.” We are home to some of the largest churches in America. In fact, Christianity Today once called our city “the new capital of evangelicalism.” But as the infidelity report illustrates, we are clearly living in a cultural mission field.
No matter where you live in America, so are you.
Tax-exempt status “now up for debate”
My wife and I were discussing yesterday’s Daily Article, which focused on ways Christianity is under attack in our society. Janet noted that for years, many of us have been warning that a post-Christian and even anti-Christian day was coming to our nation. Now, she said, it’s here.
Here’s why she is right.
The Supreme Court tragically discovered a constitutional “right” to abortion in 1973 and only overturned that ruling this year, but Christian doctors have not (yet) been required to perform abortions. Euthanasia is available in various forms in ten states, but Christian physicians are not (yet) required to provide physician-assisted suicide.
However, as I noted in yesterday’s article, the so-called Respect for Marriage Act will make an unbiblical and even anti-biblical definition of marriage the law of the land by congressional action. Many fear that this legislation threatens religious liberty on an unprecedented level.
For example, Roger Severino of the Heritage Foundation warns that “the tax-exempt status of religious schools and nonprofits is now up for debate. Additionally, the Left will try to use the bill to sue faith-based adoption agencies and contractors to drive them out of business as they have done in multiple states and localities already.”
Hospital chaplain fired for pro-life beliefs
Rev. Jay McCaig had been a hospital chaplain in Orlando for ten years before he was fired for anti-abortion posts on his personal Facebook page. He says he never spoke about his pro-life views with patients or employees at the hospital.
Earlier this year, a jury in Minnesota ruled against a pharmacist who refused to dispense a morning-after pill on the basis of his pro-life beliefs. The jury decided that the pharmacist had inflicted emotional harm and said the woman who requested the pill should be entitled to $25,000 in damages.
We could go on: the so-called Equality Act that has passed the House of Representatives twice has been called “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America.” According to the Alliance Defending Freedom, a lawsuit filed by the Religious Exemption Accountability Project would “punish religious colleges and their students by stripping them of much-needed financial aid simply because of their beliefs.”
As I have noted often, LGBTQ advocates have been implementing a decades-long strategy to normalize LGBTQ behavior through popular media and culture, legalize it in the courts, stigmatize those who disagree as “homophobic” and “dangerous,” and then criminalize such disagreement. All four phases of this strategy are clearly at work in our society today.
“Learning how to do what he said”
One significant way you and I can respond is to model the incarnational love of God to our broken culture. As I have noted this week, Christmas is God’s gift to us not because we are worthy of his love but because God is love (1 John 4:8). Because we cannot earn his love by what we do, we cannot lose his love by what we do.
When our Savior was born in a feed trough in a Bethlehem cave, he proved that he will be born again in any heart that is open to his grace. That grace will then transform our lives into his Bethlehem and demonstrate his love to our broken world.
Now it is our responsibility to show his love to those who reject it. When we defend biblical morality boldly and courageously but “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), we disprove the caricature that Christians are bigoted and hateful. When we remember that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4), we will offer them the compassion we received from those who led us to Christ.
Philosopher and bestselling author Dallas Willard noted: “The idea of having faith in Jesus has come to be totally isolated from being his apprentice and learning how to do what he said.” Here’s what Jesus said: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Both verbs are present-tense imperatives, unconditional commands to you and me today.
My dear friend’s wisdom
To have the servant heart of the One who “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28), submit your life and your day to his Holy Spirit right now (Ephesians 5:18). Ask his Spirit to manifest the “fruit” of love in your life for those you encounter (Galatians 5:22). Then measure success by the degree to which others experience the love of Christ in your compassion.
My dear friend, the Dallas businessman Ray Nixon, shared this truth with me yesterday: “When the mouth is open, the heart is on display.”
What will your heart display today?