Keep Calm and Carry On

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Denny Burk is on a roll this week.  His comments on the latest furore surrounding Tim Tebow's withdrawal from a church engagement are most apposite. Now, I have no sensitivity to (or sympathy with) American 'sports,' so, I am guessing TT is somewhat like Euan Murray but with protective pads, just so that he does not get hurt.

The incident is confirmation that the world is changing rapidly and, as I have noted before, taking any stand on homosexuality short of complete and unconditional affirmation will soon place one in the same moral category as a Klansman or a homicidal foot fetishist. Of course, I am not a cultural transformationalist; but if there are any such reading this blog, I might suggest that now would be a good time for you chaps to start proving me wrong.  Yes, I do appreciate the cool movie reviews, the nice paintings, the appearances on the occasional serious news program and the efforts on behalf of decent craft brews; but I have a suspicion that it would really be much more helpful if we were seeing some transformation for the good in society's moral and legal standards.  The culture is transforming as I write, but not , it seems to me, in ways conducive to religious freedom in general or Christianity in particular.  

Yet there are a number of other, positive lessons we can draw from this latest piece of media nastiness.

First, we should pray for people like Tim Tebow.  I say this not because they are influential.  That they are influential should actually concern us somewhat and I will address that next.  We should pray for them because they are Christian brothers and sisters. We should pray for Christians in the real, Hollywood-scale celebrity sphere because they are more obvious targets for media hate campaigns, and campaigns which will be much more intense than any of us can truly comprehend. They have very little private space or contexts for anonymity which many of us take for granted.   These celebrity Christians are also possibly more isolated than many of the rest of us: fame -- real, not YRR fame -- inevitably cuts one off from those normal support networks and routines which many of us simply assume.  Christians in such situations need our prayerful support. We are often quick to jump on the very public failings of celebrity Christians, whether sports stars, actors or politicians, and berate them for their missteps and lack of wisdom; but in doing so we often forget that we too are just as inept but have the privilege of making our mistakes outside of the glare of public scrutiny.  

Second, we really should try not to make such figures into those to whom we look for leadership and guidance.  That role should be fulfilled by the elders in your local church and the experienced saints whom you know personally and with whom you have an actual relationship.  Tim Tebow has, as far as I know, been called by no-one to be a teacher in the church.  Certainly his example has inspired and encouraged many; and there is nothing wrong with that.  But we must remember that being an inspiring example is one thing; being someone to whom we look for Christian leadership is quite another.  The latter is really the role of those who have received the external call from a congregation and who have thus been proven to have the biblical qualifications for leadership and who are also formally accountable to the church.

Third, we need to remember that hatred from the world is what we are to expect.  The West has enjoyed a happy confluence of the broad ethical values of wider society and of the Bible on things such as sexual morality for many centuries.  That is changing rapidly.  It will lead to persecution, whether in the mild form of name calling or more severe forms such as the use of legal penalties against those who hold fast to the faith.  What does the Bible have to say to this?  'Do not be surprised....' 1 Pet. 4:12.   This is the expected norm; what we have thus far enjoyed for many centuries now is actually the exception - a delightful blessing for which we should be grateful, but the exception nonetheless.

Finally, remember Matt. 16:18.  No media campaign, no election result, no ruling of the Supreme Court, no attack from the most violent enemy can negate that promise.  Yes, the church's enemies come; but they always eventually go.  The church remains and will always do so, guaranteed by the grace of a faithful, covenant keeping God.  That should be a cause for rejoicing, whatever the outward cultural circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Posted February 21, 2013 @ 7:10 PM by Carl Trueman

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