I have been reading through the book of Acts lately. With our culture and world the way it is today, it seems to have been the perfect time to read through this book. No, I’m not referring specifically to the recent SCOTUS decision to legalize gay marriage in America. Rather, I’m talking in a much more general sense, as I am reminded again and again of the lack of love and desire for God and the presence of a lack of morals that is evident, both in my nation and around the world.
This past year in my Student Ministry we did a handful of lessons called “How should we as Christians respond?”, looking at big issues that are a part of our world today. We discussed terrorism, human trafficking, abortion, homosexuality, and even the “green craze” (not ever lesson has to be intense).
All these are current topics in our culture and world. Some of them are moral issues, while others are political…or at least have been turned into political issues. Some are things we as a nation are very divided over concerning what we believe and how we think our government should act, while others are things we’d generally all say “yes, that is wrong and it needs to be dealt with”. My goal in discussing these issues was to provide a safe environment where students could talk freely and learn to think critically, honestly, humbly, and even with a biblical perspective about all of them.
More recently, and something that is very fresh in people’s minds, is the recent SCOTUS decision. No, this blog is not about my views on the issue…but yes, it is a part of this whole discussion about the current state of our culture and world, so I would be remiss to not mention it. This is another issue that has our nation very divided, with people passionately defending their side.
There are other things I could mention as well, as our culture and world seems to be full of issues. But the point of this blog is not to share my own thoughts on those issues. Rather it is to share why I think it has been the perfect time to read through the book of Acts again when I consider the current state of our culture and world.
As I read through the book of Acts recently, I noticed over and over again that the early Christians did not have it comfortable or easy. They were told to shut up, beaten and imprisoned, and had to scatter in order to escape the severe persecution from those opposed to them. They didn’t even have the support of the main religious leaders of the day…the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were intent on making the early Christians be quiet, even appealing to the Roman leaders over them to kill some of the early church leaders such as Paul.
Yet the early Christians continued to meet together, continued to worship God, and continued to talk to others about Christ. As they did this, their numbers grew, despite the persecution.
As I read about the early Christians and the culture they lived in, I was challenged with this question: why do we assume we are supposed to be comfortable as Christians in America today? The early Christians were not comfortable. Even today, many Christians living in other areas of the world are not comfortable. So why do we think we should be?
I think that we as Christians in America have grown so accustomed to having freedom to worship Christ freely, freedom of speech, and even having many of the laws of the land be based on biblical ideals, that we have come to assume that our nation is a Christian nation and we as Christians should have it easy here. But that’s simply not true.
This nation may have been founded as a Christian nation…or at least a nation based on biblical ideals. However, the past is done, and we live in the present. Even if we were a Christian nation before, we are not now, nor have we been for a while. So thinking that every decision the leaders of our nation make should be following biblical principles is not realistic.
Should we stand up for what is right, and vote based on our beliefs when given the opportunity? YES! I’m not in any way advocating that we don’t. That is one of the greatest freedoms we have in this nation, and it’s a freedom I’m extremely thankful for. It’s a freedom that many around the world don’t have, so we should take advantage of it while we can. In Acts we saw that Paul even used his status as a Roman citizen to his advantage, so it’s not wrong to claim and use our freedoms as American citizens.
We just need to be careful we don’t begin to put our trust in America and the freedoms we have. Our trust is to be in God, not nations or governments or freedoms or rights or anything else.
Decisions will be made in our nation that go against our beliefs. A lack of morals will continue to be evident in this world. That is the reality of the world and culture we live in. However, may that reality never derail us from focusing on God, trusting in God, and living for God.
May our focus and trust be on God alone. May we determine to live for him, obeying what he tells us in his Word. May we follow the example of the early Christians we see in Acts. May our government and culture not determine how we live for God, but rather may we follow hard after him despite what the culture around us says and does.