Where I live, we are a few days away from an election. A few night’s ago, we had a leader’s debate, with all the usual personal attacks and petty bickering. The reaction today is that no-one won the debate, and the voters haven’t changed their minds about how they will vote. It was all a required exercise before the vote, with no results.
In all the arguments, there is a story about someone who preached a sermon at a Baptist church. I wasn’t there for the sermon, but apparently he talked about sexuality and morals, and he described some similarities between homosexuals, and pedophiles who molest children. I don’t know what he said, but someone found a record of the sermon, and noted that the preacher is a candidate in the election.
That has produced angry demands to fire the candidate, and he has apologized. The debate last night included angry words about “homophobia” but I predict that preacher will win his local election by a landslide. People in his small-town region don’t have a problem with the man and they will rally around him.
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The biggest losers in the debate are religious people, in any organized religion. The anger in the election will be directed to groups that have their own ideas, and don’t follow the socially approved agenda, as promoted in the media. All religions have their own ideas, that’s what makes them religions, and I predict bad news for organized religion. The old saying is “The nail that stands up gets the hammer.”
The world is flooded with electronic news, and today it’s not strange that a sermon preached in a Baptist church in a small town can become a major election issue. Did you know Jesus predicted that happening in our society two thousand years ago, when He said “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” (Luke 12:3)
There are no secrets any more.
I advise any Christian who plans to preach or write about our beliefs to read the notes carefully, and only say what you are willing to shout. I know we will sometimes offend others when we speak the truth, and we should accept the consequences, if we are brave enough. The problem is with the careless and foolish words that require an apology later. All organized religion will be scrutinized, including these words written by me, and we don’t need to take a fall for careless words.
It’s a new world.
If you want to see the new world, and learn the bad news about organized religion, there are many examples; the nails are hammered down around the world. One of the best known examples is the restrictions on religion in China. The Chinese state is officially atheist, so all non-conforming religions might appear to be cults.
I believe that what we see in one place, we will soon see in most of the world. It’s becoming easier to identify the nails, and the hammer is always ready. The Bible promises us “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
So is there any good news, in all the bad news? Yes. In China, for example, the Christians probably number more than one hundred million, and the number is growing rapidly. Probably faster than any other Christian community. “Probably” because these people don’t want to be counted; identification is risky.
Persecution and restrictions might be bad news for organized religion, but simple faith in God, one person at a time, is spreading like a fire. We have some evidence of this from the heart of the persecution fire:
The evidence is, God has not moved.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalm 91: 1 to 6)