I am living in this city that’s new and big and there is always something to explore right around the corner. This I love. But I am also struck everyday with the wonder of the people in it. I am not naive enough to think that the way things are in the Bible Belt are the way things are all over the county. I have traveled beyond several different boarders and studied religions and cultures yet somehow I am still amazed at people’s worldviews and how vastly different they are from my own.
Yesterday we pulled into Walgreen’s to get some eggs after having left the ones we bought on Saturday at the grocery store. We pulled in behind a car with a sticker that read: “Fundamentalists/Evangelicals GO TO …” (fill in the blank). I was appalled, and inside, a little bit mad. As Matt said, “talk about Fundamentalism”. Let’s just say, you most likely wouldn’t see that in Bentonville, AR. Sadly, bumper stickers and ideas like this are not uncommon in this vibrant but liberal city.
To add to that, Matt got a very long email from a co-worker at the bank explaining his view on why women should be allowed to be pastor’s, how we are suppressing them if we don’t and why we are wrong in disagreeing with him. Matt had previously explained to him that I, as his wife, wasn’t dumb, that I had read Scripture for myself, studied it, and came to the conclusion that this was God’s ordained plan- men to be pastors of churches. I will add that his letter was full of holes that would not have been that difficult to refute as he argued from a misguided Biblical understanding and bad hermeneutics. Yet, this proved the deeper issue: the lack of belief in the inerrancy of Scripture.
Recently, many of the sermons at Church have been about suffering. I know God intends this for a reason, and maybe a reason(s) we, as a Church, have no idea about. While I don’t pretend to equate people’s strongly projected misunderstandings of the Bible and Christianity with the suffering and persecution of Christians around the world, I have been made more aware of what people in our country really believe and what we are up against in ministry. And, with all of the political upheaval about religious freedom, hostility towards Christianity in American, new laws that may demand schools and organizations to go against their conscience, I can’t help but apply those recently learned truths to my current city and the worldviews swirling around me.
Who am I to demand my entitlement? Should we stand up for religious freedom as so many have done and given their lives for in the past for a country that allows for that? A resounding YES! We have a voice that can be heard through our vote as well as free speech. But what about when our voices get drowned out by he more popular, politically correct speech out there? What then? Do we rage and get mad about the injustice? My human nature really wants to. But as I think of the millions of Christians around the world, many forced underground, I feel like God is getting me to shift my perspective to His…the greater perspective. As a citizen of the Kingdom, I gave up entitlement to freedom in this world. I gave up entitlement to comfort, a life of ease, free speech, and religious freedom. I gave up entitlement to acceptance even if people disagree with me and my “religious” views.
There may be a day when women are forced to be allowed to pastor churches that believe it is against their theology. Perhaps they will say it is their civil right according to religious liberty. Perhaps they will say we are suppressing them otherwise. What about open homosexuals serving in those same churches? I don’t want my first reaction to be that of anger and indignation towards those who would try to stamp out our freedom. I want my reaction to reflect the bigger picture. Jesus said we will be hated, persecuted, reviled. Why don’t we think it applies to us, if not now, then one day?
I don’t know where Matt and I will be in three years, but my one prayer is that we would be found to be faithful and un-compromising. The gospel is what changes people’s worldviews and that is the business we are in. If my first reaction is not one of love and compassion towards those with hell-bent worldviews, I have missed the point of why we are here in the first place. What am I to expect from the world, the lost, and those with unregenerate minds? We are here for them.