I just finished reading an article concerning a Texas law that was recently passed protecting pastors from being put in a position of violating their religious conscience or ministry after the disastrous SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. It was being hailed as a victory.
I suppose if I were a pastor in Texas I could take some solace in the thought that in our day of constitutional shredding, I now had an extra layer of protection that the original First Amendment hadn’t provided. However, since I live in one of the other 49 states and am smart enough to understand where all this is ultimately headed, I am finding small comfort in the Texas law. In fact, as a faithful shepherd, I am offended at the unbiblical (not to mention unconstitutional) compartmentalization of the faith that is constantly demonstrated and legislated.
What about the millions of Christians who may not be “clergy” but are nonetheless “ministers?” What about the Christians who see their businesses as an extension of their faith and a part of their “ministry?”
Why do I get a personal law for my career to function as a minister but the baker, t-shirt maker, printer, and other service businesses which are run by Christians as an extension of their faith get litigation and harassment from the government?
It is an indicator that the secularists are doing everything possible to push the Gospel and Christians behind the four walls of their church in order to inoculate the culture from any sense of Christianity. They desire to emphasize the mythical division between the sacred and the secular. They want to drive every vestige of Christian thought, influence, or symbolism out of the public eye. The current bullies who are leading the charge, are the LGBT jihadists who are moving at breath-taking speed.
I want to remind you that the current challenges we face in our culture are not strictly a liberal v. conservative political battle. This struggle we are in is not strictly a traditionalist v. relativist moral battle. This is a clash of worldviews and some ideology or moral philosophy will ultimately prevail in our nation. There is no such thing as neutral and the unfortunate reality we face has become that the Judeo-Christian ethic or Biblical Worldview is quickly finding minority status if something doesn’t happen swiftly.
- For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17 NKJV)
- And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, (Colossians 3:17, 23 NKJV)
So it should come as no surprise that Christian business people bring their faith to the marketplace. But what should these faithful Christian business owners, employees, and entrepreneurs do in this ever-increasing hostility towards them by the culture?
I want to suggest FIVE imperatives that Christians in the marketplace need to immediately consider in the new reality that we are all facing after the Obergefell v. Hodges decision of the SCOTUS. I cannot underscore enough that now is the time for serious believers to thoughtfully consider how they are going to navigate the culture as they walk out their faith.
1. Decide now your commitment to faith in the marketplace.
I can assure you that Christians are going to be targeted at their businesses and places of employment concerning how their faith applies to their job. If you think you will be able to fly under the radar of detection I can almost assure you that will not happen. The high profile cases you have watched or read through media have only been the tip of the iceberg. I personally know small bakeries that have already been singled out and set-up for possible litigation. The LGBT groups have strategized for this very moment and are working to get as much mileage as possible in their season of favor. What will you do? Have you decided where your conscience boundaries are yet? Have you thought about where your business as a ministry is legitimately engaging the world and where it may be compromising with it? Will you compartmentalize your faith to only your personal piety or will your faith effect how you run your marriage, your home, your business, or all of life? We cannot be mad at politicians who compartmentalize their faith out of the public policy arena while we do the same at our businesses and jobs. It is time to commit to a 24/7 Christianity because Jesus really is “Lord of all”.
2. Connect with a committed faith community.
It is time to find a healthy, sound, and engaged Church. If you are in one, that is great. If not, you need to get to one and sink yourself into it this Sunday. We are living in a day where isolated and disconnected people are going to get picked off by the adversary. We all know that there are no perfect churches, but Christian business people are going to need the spiritual, economic, and relational support network of a local church and the Church at large. Perhaps the best fruit that can come from adversity is the push we receive to return to fellowship with like-minded believers. There may be a moment you will be required to stand alone, but many of the challenges in the coming days can be mitigated and overcome by knowing and experiencing the support of a local church that is watching and praying for you.
3. Find a Pastor who will stand with you publicly.
I have written before on the key role pastors are going to play in the days ahead. My advice is to make sure you have a Pastor who is willing to stand with those standing in the marketplace. The Indiana Pastors Alliance is mobilizing in numerous ways to help support pastors so they can in turn support their flock as they work in the trenches of a culture gone wild. What a difference it could have made if a group of pastors would have called a press conference in front of Hobby Lobby when it was in litigation over Obamacare and abortifacients. Can you imagine the impact a dozen pastors could have in front of a targeted bakery declaring that the Christian community and the Church stands with those who are unrighteously targeted because of their faith? These are the new questions Christians need to ask of their churches and pastors as they face the new reality.
4. Get involved in public policy forums and discussions.
No one likes working around politics until it gets personal. I confess, it took me far too long to get the epiphany that my nation was shifting and it was going to effect the environment of how I did ministry. I understand clearly that the New Testament Church ministered in a hostile environment and by all metrics was successful. I have every confidence that a committed, passionate, 21st century Church in America can do the same thing; however, I would prefer the environment be conducive for the work of the ministry and not hostile. I prefer that my children and grandchildren enjoy the religious liberty I have enjoyed for their lifetimes. The sad fact is, if events continue to spiral as we have seen as of late and a Biblical Worldview is exchanged for secularism, then the next generation is going to face incredible hostility to their faith. The stark reality that is coming our way is should our children and grandchildren live passionately for Jesus in the marketplace, there is a high likelihood they will face fines or incarceration. Personally, I cannot imagine them standing over my grave site and saying, “Grandpa, why didn’t you do something when you had the chance?” If you want to get involved, I can assure you that there is a place you can put your hand on in this area.
5. You have come to this moment for such a time as this.
If you are reading this and you are a Christian then I can tell you with confidence that you and I are on the scene at this time because God wanted us here to labor in His causes. I feel inadequate most of the time, but what keeps me focused is that God knew me before I was born and He knew the culture into which I would minister and work. I believe I am here by divine assignment. The truth is…you are too! Like Esther of old, you have come to the Kingdom for such a time as this. It is a paradox of sorts. No one feels capable to address the tsunami-like changes that are sweeping this nation. There are so many challenges that it seems beyond anyone’s mortal wisdom to even know how to start. Yet, here we are. We are it. We may not seem like much and honestly that isn’t a totally inaccurate assessment. However, I am reminded:
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (I John 4:4 NKJV)
One of my favorite sayings that I have committed to memory comes from the great A.W. Tozer. He said,
God is hiding His heroes; and the day will arrive when they will appear and the world will wonder where they came from.
Adversity produces God’s heroes. Some of you who will read this are actually being groomed at this moment for something heroic in the faith. Is it a tough hour? Yes. Don’t shrink back. Don’t fear. It is moments like these that the Lord works best if you will determine to stand for Him. It’s moments like these heroes are revealed. I believe there is arising an army of marketplace heroes.