Dear Evangelical Church in America,
I wanted to briefly remind Christian leaders that the Apostle Paul either directly or indirectly shepherded churches in some of the most pagan cultures in the world! Rome, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus (to name a few!) were NOT bastions of holiness that were readily receptive to the Gospel! (Rom. 1:20-32) In many regards, the present circumstances in America are tame compared to the norms Paul confronted in his New Testament letters.
Keeping the above in mind, I must tell you that I am growing disappointed in the “woe is us” language that has been prevalent among Christian leaders in my city and around the country over the last three weeks. I get it! The SCOTUS decision is indicative of cultural decline! In response to this I must say:
1) We are shocked only because the American Church has received little opposition over the last 400+ years. Our brothers in parts of the world that require underground worship gatherings are envious of our ability to stand in our pulpits this morning and confront sin. If trials of that sort ever come for us, then receive them with joy. Paul modeled such joy in the face of opposition, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…” (Col. 1:24). When God called us he never promised it would be easy!
2) The present circumstances are indicative of how poor a job we have been doing. A Gospel message that is to be comprised of both truth AND grace was converted to either truth OR grace. We have created a false dichotomy that either overlooks sin (grace?) or self-righteously clubs non-believers on the head (truth?)! We are called to preach both. (John 1:17) Our inability to do so has contributed to the present circumstances which are merely “chickens that have come home to roost.”
3) Are not the present circumstances greater reason to preach the Gospel that makes wholeness out of brokenness?! By what authority have you decided to put your hands up in surrender. WE HAVE THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM! (Matt. 16:19) Get up off your butt, polish your badge, and make disciples on behalf of the King (Matt. 28:16-20). You’ve had time to grieve, complain, assess, prepare, and whatever else you have been doing over the last few weeks. Now it’s time to preach a Gospel that displays God’s radical grace toward rebellious humanity. God has not been caught off guard. He knew that seasons would come in which “…people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2Tim. 4:1-5)
You have had long enough to recover from shock. Now make disciples! “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1Cor. 15:58)
Your brother in the Kingdom,
Pastor Brandon Washington
The Embassy Church