Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Colossians 4: 5-6 (ESV)
We have watched self-righteous Christians for the past year act as if doing their job was persecution. First the bakers from Oregon, who refused to bake a cake, then published the address of the people suing them, and even today refuse to pay the fines the court has levied against them for breaking Oregon law. Christians who have been taught poorly all rallied around these bakers as if they were facing beheading if they did not renounce Christ; which still happens in other countries every single day. Using selective outrage, the bakers insisted that they would somehow be violating their own conscience by baking a cake for somebody else. That the sins they saw in other people were somehow going to be weighed against them if they combined some flour with sugar. As obscure as some of the Leviticus writings can seem at times, nothing this absurd exists biblically. Not to mention that unless they were applying the same "no sin" standard before baking wedding cakes by checking what the hetero couples were involved with then they were practicing hypocrisy, not Christianity. While Jesus had nothing to say about baking, He had plenty to say about hypocrisy and none of it was positive.
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" -- Matthew 15: 7-9 (ESV)
I am sorry beloved but what the Oregon bakers are teaching the world is commandments of men wrapped up in doctrinal-speak. If you read the Gospels and think that Jesus would turn away anyone based upon their sin, then you need to re-read them slower. There is no commandment of God that states the Holy Spirit will convict us of other people's sins. Consider this portion from in 1Corinthians:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people -- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 1Corinthians 5: 9-10 (ESV)
Read the entire chapter as it is quite fascinating and interesting. The Corinthian church was confused. They were accepting of a member who had his father's wife as his lover, even boasting about it. Yet they thought they should thumb their noses at those in the world who had moral failings. Sound familiar? Paul makes it very clear here. We are to associate with the morally failed in the world. How else will they have a chance to see Christ? We need to stop making commandments of our own self-righteousness and blaming God for it.
Then there was the Washington state florist who also felt compelled to deny her services of arranging wedding flowers for the same reason. What is often lost amongst the rally cries is the how the Bible actually says we ought to behave towards those in the world and why this country, which is not a Christian theocracy, has laws. Imagine for a minute if a Muslim store refused to service Christians because the Koran says we are infidels. How fast would the Christian rally-machine be screaming discrimination for the exact same thing they are advocating for today? It doesn't work both ways beloved. After these two incidents, we had the recent kerfuffle in Kentucky with Kim Davis. Showing unbelievably poor biblical knowledge, Davis actually said that she feared the fires of hell if her signature appeared on a piece of paper that God could care less about. Yes, you heard me right. God does not care about a secular document claiming two men are married any more than He cares about your hetero marriage license. For people who like to cry separation of church and state so often we sure seem to selectively forget it when it suits our agenda. Politicians, pundits and false Christian leaders rushed to Kentucky to get their pound of Kim Davis' flesh. Ridiculously comparing this to Dr. Martin Luther King, once again the Bible was discarded for the idolization of America and how they wished it would be an American theocracy. For the purposes of this writing this is the backdrop because of the cries of persecution. Every pseudo-Christian leader that stepped up to the microphone over these issues cried persecution. That someone choosing to be in contempt of court for refusing to do the job they were elected to was akin to the persecution Jesus warned us about:
And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given to you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. -- Mark 13- 11-13 (ESV)
Enough with confectionary persecution! As all of this nonsense was playing out, there was a world that was watching. A world that the Bible teaches us already thinks the things of God are utter foolishness. A world that is walking in blinding darkness under the complete control of Satan. A world we are supposed to be a shining city on a hill for, not sticking our collective thumb in their eyes. A world that needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ not the Levitical law He provides grace for. Do we even stop for a moment to think about how we are viewed by a dying world? Do we care what damage we do for the witness of Christ? Do we consider the key verses today at all? Do you think it is walking in wisdom towards the unsaved to make a national spectacle of their sin? Do you think they are more or less likely to consider Jesus after this? The key verses implore us to make the most of the time. That is because time is running out and we ought to be about the Father's work. That means the Gospel. That does not mean telling people you love them as you sucker punch them in the stomach. That does not mean pretending to understand the Constitution when you do not even understand the Bible. Nowhere are we instructed to bring the morality of religion to the lost. The Holy Spirit convicts and draws people, not us. Neither are we to fight for the alleged Christian roots of this or any other nation. We are not tasked with saving or reviving this nation. We are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners not stakeholders.
For over a year now I have been trying to point out the true face of persecution. The Iraqi Christians who were driven from their homes. The Middle Eastern Christians who are given a choice to renounce Christ or die. The woman who was scheduled to be executed in the Sudan for believing in Jesus. Perhaps because these were a world away we were able to dismiss them from our minds and hearts. Even though these are our brothers and sisters according to Jesus. Well true persecution came to our shores yesterday. It was a true glimpse of what coming persecution will look like. This was not some disagreement with the Bible. It was hatred for those who believe. It was the core mission of Satan on display.
Enter Christopher Harper-Mercer. Just another hyphenated broken man the world will tell us. Just another sick and deranged individual. Those who hate guns will blame guns. Those who love guns will blame mental illness. Those who advocate for the mentally ill will blame pharmaceuticals. Those who make money from big pharma will blame guns. Satan laughing all the while because no one will speak the truth. No one will speak about the inherent wickedness of the human heart, sin, and our desperate need for a Savior. Christopher Harper-Mercer listed the occult and black magick among his interests. He purchased Nazi regalia, expressed an admiration for the Irish Republican Army and uploaded documentaries on prior mass shootings. And he had in his interests listed that he "doesn't like organized religion." That was apparently an understatement. Mercer apparently hated Christians. Hated them enough to not only kill them but mock their faith before he pulled the trigger. Not only hate them but try to get them to renounce their God and if they did, he spared them. When we are tempted to start thinking that someone being asked to sign a secular license or bake a cake is persecution, I want us to remember these eye-witness accounts to yesterday's true glimpse into the black heart of persecution:
"The shooter was lining people up and asking if they were a Christian. If they said yes, then they were shot in the head. If they said no, or didn't answer, they were shot in the legs."
"And this man had enough time. I don't know how much time elapsed before he was able to stand there and start asking people one by one what their religion was. 'Are you a Christian?' He would ask them. 'And if you are a Christian stand up.' When they stood he said, 'Good, you are going to see God in just about one second." Then he shot and killed them."
Beloved this is persecution. This is someone deciding who lives and dies based upon their faith in Christ. When you are a baker, being asked to bake a cake should be considered normal and expected. When your sole job is to sign marriage licenses perhaps you should not be blindsided by being asked to sign marriage licenses. When you leave home to go to school however, and are singled out and killed based upon your Christian beliefs and essentially being offered to live if you hide those beliefs? That is persecution. Christopher Harper-Mercer gave us a glimpse into what will eventually come for us all who persist in the faith. Until then however, it is time for us to recognize how we are supposed to be acting toward those folks who do not share our beliefs. More importantly, how behaving as we do actually contributes to the hatred Satan grows in the hearts of people like Christopher Harper-Mercer every single day. Lord knows I am not advocating for not preaching the Gospel but if you cannot convey love while preaching the Gospel then I think you have missed the point of the Gospel.
I saw today attempts to focus on the hero who stopped Mercer and not speak about the killer. Exactly what Satan wants. I thank God for the hero but we need to remember Mercer. We need to remember the true face of persecution. We need to realize how many Mercers this society creates every single day. People wrapped up in the occult. People who are under the direct influence of Satan and may not even realize it and those that realize it and embrace it. So let the talking heads spin for their cause du jour. Let them all blame and excuse guns, violence in media, psychotropic medication, and mental illness while ignoring the larger issues of the disintegration of the family, the collapse of morality, the normalization of godlessness, and the complete unwillingness to consider the truth. The truth that there is good and evil. Black and white. Right and wrong. There are no shades of grey. What happened yesterday and every shooting from Columbine to Sandy Hook, is simply a matter of sin and the fallen state of man. We chalk these things up to anomalies and put them in a bucket such as mental illness to avoid having to admit that we are all Christopher Harper-Mercer in our depraved hearts. That we desperately need a Savior from the sins of our hearts. That Jesus Christ is that Savior and ultimately why we will face the satanic persecution that we saw just a glimpse of yesterday in Oregon. God grant the survivors peace and Christians the wisdom to filter this through the Bible and not the lens of this world. In Jesus name.