“All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6)
The devil wants you silenced! If you are not going to repeat his mantra, then you better shut up or you will be threatened and possibly hurt or even killed.
Sadly, many devout Christians who love God with all their heart, comply, believing that the proper response of the Church to the social challenges facing us today should be “spiritual and not political” as if they somehow must be mutually exclusive. (They’re not.)
Some believe it is not fitting for Christians to enter the fray and speak up, but didn’t Paul say, “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak,”?
Speaking up and speaking out is a spiritual act. The confession of our mouth is a fundamental Christian duty of high importance. And it was never meant to be confined to safe houses (aka churches).
We are in a spiritual war and as the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations (reasonings or arguments) and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
So let me ask you...
How does one cast down an argument or a reasoning? If the argument is put forth for example that men should compete in women’s sports, share women’s bathrooms and have babies, is the Christian response to simply be disgusted and then hope that maybe those making that argument will show up in church on Sunday so they can hear the gospel (assuming of course that the church is actually preaching the gospel)?
Is it enough to simply pray for those lost souls? Pray for them yes, but then go out to where they are and reason with them.
Think me crazy?
Consider Paul in Acts 17:16-17 “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. (A social evil prevalent at the time) Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.”
So much for confining your remarks to the choir.
Paul absolutely went into pagan society, confronted it out in the open and successfully brought those pagan ideologies into captivity, rendering them powerless in the minds of many in that day.
That bold stand in the marketplace got him invited to Mars Hill (Areopagus) where he had a larger audience in the public square, resulting in some converts on the spot. Many of today’s Christians would have turned down that same offer due to the dubious reputation of the venue.
One of the comments in response to my previous blog (Lady Justice is No Lady and Has No Blindfold) respectfully suggested that I offered the wrong solution and argued that “the early Church ministered under very harsh conditions imposed by the brutal oppressive Roman Empire and seemed to understand this principle well (of prayer and preaching) and deliberately avoided any form of resistance or political activism even when subjected to persecution.”
I sincerely appreciated her comment and thanked her for the inspiration for this blog because I thought many may also have this mindset.
Let me begin with the obvious...
Rome was not a constitutional republic.
It was not a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.
In America at least, our form of government requires (or strongly encourages) citizens to be involved. We are not serfs or slaves. We are equals and with that comes great responsibility for the governing of this great nation. And that responsibility is on all of us to some extent. If the lambs of the church fall silent, the wolves of the world will have their way!
Secondly, the Roman Empire was very harsh as was stated, but to whom? Rome was a polytheistic state. They didn’t care how many gods you had. It was in some ways, a first amendment country – it had freedom of religion. Look at Ephesus or any ancient culture in the empire. They had many gods and were not persecuted for that.
Why then were so many Christians slaughtered and fed to the lions for sport? Even Paul faced that threat. (1 Corinthians 15:32) It wasn’t because he was an apostle of a “new” religion. Rome didn’t care about that.
In ancient Rome, you could have Jesus as your savior and heaven as your home. That didn’t concern Roman leadership. You could argue over doctrine and believe that Jesus healed and that was completely benign to Rome.
There was a red line however...
You had to confess on pain of death that “Caesar is Lord”. As long as you confessed that, you were fine, and not in danger of the wrath of Rome. That was not too different from the days of Nazi Germany where you were expected to swear allegiance to the Fuhrer with “Heil Hitler” which means “Hail Hitler” and was the same salutation (salute) demanded by Caesar (Hail Caesar).
Now here’s the rub...
The reason Christians were mercilessly slaughtered was because THEY SPOKE UP...
They said the unpardonable thing... They said there is another king!
They declared instead that JESUS IS LORD!
That was a political statement!
And for that they were torn apart by wild beasts and killed in many other cruel ways.
The Roman Empire Christians didn’t stay confined to their Sunday morning church services and tell a joke, read a Scripture, tell some stories, take up an offering and then have a potluck dinner.
They were world changers who challenged the culture of the day, who spoke up in the public arena and paid the ultimate price knowingly and willingly, so that one day the cries of their shed blood would call a world to repentance.
Back in 2004, I invited Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State and Republican nominee for governor to speak at one of my events. It was either my Selling Among Wolves seminar or our Taking Back The Gates of Commerce event in Columbus, Ohio. (Not sure which one)
He got up and gave a speech I shall never forget. He spoke about a man named Telemachus who was the 5th century monk who on January 1st, 404 AD ended the Roman Gladiatorial Games. Here’s what happened...
One day he journeyed to the fabled city of Rome and saw a large crowd making its way to the Colosseum. Curious, he followed the crowd which swelled to an estimated 80,000 fans. The air was electric with anticipation and that was before they discovered electricity!
He watched as the gladiators came forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, ‘We who are about to die salute you.’
That’s when the awful realization hit him that these men were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds. Realizing how wrong this socially accepted
sport was, he challenged both the Emperor and the gladiators.
He cried out, ‘In the Name of Christ, stop!’
Take a second and visualize that scene. Imagine someone running onto the field of a crowded, cheering, blood-thirsty crowd in a filled to capacity stadium and then challenging the Emperor and the gladiators!
Talk about courage! (We need more of that TODAY!)
His voice was naturally lost in the tumult of the great Colosseum…It was after all a festive occasion and a holiday.
And when the games began… the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, ‘In the Name of Christ, stop!’
The crowd thought it was part of the entertainment, sort of like those rodeo clowns meant to distract angry bulls when the cowboy gets thrown off, and at first they were amused.
But then, when they realized it wasn’t part of the show, they grew belligerent and angry…
He kept on pleading with the gladiators, ‘In the Name of Christ, stop!’ Unmoved by his pleading, one of them plunged his sword into his body. And as this courageous little monk fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were, ‘In the Name of Christ, stop!’
This man had only two things to offer...
(1) His courage to face the emperor and the gladiators unarmed, and (2) HIS VOICE.
Suddenly, a strange thing happened.
The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying and dying in the sand and a silence fell over the Colosseum. Then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and the others began to follow.
This once roaring crowd was stunned, perhaps shamed, maybe even convicted by the Holy Spirit, and it brought them to dead silence, as everyone left the Colosseum shaken and speechless.
That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again did anyone kill, (or did men kill each other) for the entertainment of the crowd…
One small unknown man who loved God, had the courage and conviction to speak up in the public forum, with the simple admonition... ‘In the Name of Christ, stop!’
It was Christians, down through the centuries that spoke up against societal evils, following the example of Telemachus. Men like Lord William Bentinck who brought about in India the end of the barbaric practice known as “sati” or “widow burning” which is where when a husband died, they would build a big stack of wood and burn his body and then bind her and throw her alive on top of the funeral pyre.
It was a Christian (William Wilberforce) who fought with his mind and words, while no doubt also on his knees, and brought to an end, the practice of slavery in the British Empire.
There’s always been a brave remnant in every generation who understood that the silence of the lambs only emboldens the wolves.
Let us be silent no more.
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