For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly.
— Mark 6:18-20

We have been tracking the shift for some time. To simply say what the Bible says — as one who believes what it says, of course, not as some gawker agog at its impoliteness — is defamatory, thought crime, hate speech, what have you.

Let’s first be cautious. No one’s being burnt at the stake for their faith. No one’s even being thrown in prison. No one in these parts, anyway.

Now let’s be honest. The trend is downward. These things are actual crimes in quote-unquote “civilized” nations, and we would be arrogant to act like laws like that could never be enacted here. Every unfree nation got unfree while making great assurances to its people.

But let’s be realistic. The kingdom of God is so much bigger than empires of the world. Let’s be cautious and let’s be honest — let’s not get into histrionics but let’s not put our head in the sand — but let’s remember exactly who’s in charge here. The Western world may be moving from Herod (a disbelieving openness to our voice) to Herodias (a hostile calling for our head), but the situation is never so grim as all that. We may get what we don’t deserve but we will be getting exactly what we’ve been promised. “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).

Our Sovereign Lord isn’t making this all up as he goes along. The Trinity holds no emergency sessions.

“Take heart; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33 continues.

Christ the Lord sustains the universe by his powerful word, he declares the end from the beginning, he laughs kings to scorn, he walks on the storms, he stirs the mighty seas, he makes the mountains his footstool, he brims with sovereign glory from everlasting to everlasting. He is God.

And so:
Will we bear the derision and disgrace? Yes, and count it wealth (Hebrews 11:26).
Will we suffer the plundering of our property? Yes, and count it joy (Hebrews 10:34).
Will we suffer division in our families and communities? Yes, and count it worthiness of Christ (Matthew 10:37).

To take up one’s cross meant one thing in Jesus’ day. They did not have the luxury of metaphorizing it as we have for so long.

But cheer up.The worst thing they can do is kill us (Matthew 10:28). And we all know what Jesus does with dead stuff.

Let us be resolute together to agree that whatever makes us more like Jesus, be it comfort or cross, is authorized by God, and believe he will not take anything needful away from us that he won’t return to us a million-fold. In fact, even if they kill us, it isn’t the end of the world. Paul writes:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (2 Corinthiains 4:7-9)

What this all means is that, while it might get worse for us, it cannot get desperate. “Oh, you want to kill me? I must object for both of our sakes, but in any event, I gave myself up for dead long ago anyway” (Galatians 6:14). The Christian is united with Christ (Romans 8:1), seated with him (Ephesians 2:6), hidden with him in God (Colossians 3:3), indivisible from him by life or death (John 10:29), Romans 8:38-39). Therefore, the Christian is as secure as Christ himself.

“World, death, devil, hell, away and leave me in peace! You have no hold on me. If you will not let me live, then I will die. But you won’t succeed in that. Chop my head off, and it won’t harm me. I have a God who will give me a new one.”

— Martin Luther

As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
— Romans 8:36-37

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11 thoughts on “As It Gets Worse, It Cannot Get Desperate”

  1. Joseph McBee says:

    Yes and amen! What an encouraging post. This was obviously written from a pastor’s heart brother. I for one was fired up in my spirit and reminded how absolutley AMAZING and GLORIOUS our God is. Thank you for making much of Jesus.

    By the way: “The Trinity holds no emergency sessions” wins the internet for today.

  2. kyle says:

    Inspiring and eminently quotable. I love the light you shed on Herod and Herodias. Reminds me of Hebrews 6:18 – “we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

  3. Flyaway says:

    Your post rings true. Hobby Lobby may lose their business but that is OK. Pastors may not be invited by President Obama to pray but that is OK. Christians may be called “goody two shoes” but that is fine. All we need to do is remain faithful.

  4. Freddie Lloyd Case says:

    Finally, a sane voice… Perhaps now we can put away our campaign yard signs and State dinner invitations and get back down the business of the church… the business that ONLY the church can do… and that is to proclaim the gospel… in season and out.

  5. JohnM says:

    I think there is reason to care that we are defamed, and perhaps worse, for telling the truth, and reason to object to that. But you’re right, we need to stop acting as if we must struggle desperately with the world lest the truth be defeated. God wins no matter what, and His own are okay, no matter what.

    1. Mike Stone says:

      Jesus never resisted nor rebutted defamation. I see no reason we should do differently. The gospel will not be silenced where there are faithful people.

      1. JohnM says:

        Mike, see Matthew 11: 16-19 for one. Also consider that early on in church history, when the Church was a small and frequently persecuted minority, one function of apologetics was to correct defamation based on misrepresentations of Christianity. I don’t think they were wrong to do that. We want the world to have a chance to understand the truth. If people are to reject Christianity at least let them reject it for what it is and not some caricature. In Christ we can live under any circumstance, and we know we can expect some rejection and resistance, and maybe even persecution, but before we decide that we shouldn’t care at all about circumstances consider Paul’s instructions in 2 Timothy 2:2. Finally, realize that some defamation of the gospel even comes from within what is supposedly the church.

        1. JohnM says:

          Should have been 1 Timothy 2:1-2, above.

  6. Tom says:

    Christians are / will face the consequences for their faith in the workplace. While the pastor is somewhat isolated from this, his people face the very real threat of losing their jobs if they support / defend the biblical understanding of marriage / sexuality in the workplace. Pastors need to realize that this is a very real threat to their congregation.

  7. Wood says:

    People are getting sacked for keeping sunday for church – and are being kept out of important jobs, because of hints of anti-homo-attitudes. Pastors may have to stand up as pastors – but even so will everyone around – and those who just discuss musical matters – or whether the liturgy should be this way or that way will soon face a desire just to know if truth is truth.
    There is a reason why the Revelation speaks of seduction in this time – as the fight not only goes on as a political public war – but also in a mental and satanic way, where the question will come again and again “has it really been said or meant so…?”. Maybe we will not loose our kids to jail – but to the seductive turn away from faith in One God, One Saviour, One salvation…

  8. Tara says:

    Very thought provoking as always. I’m also reminded that the type of Christianity growing today (according to Tim Keller) is not the dead stuff but the vibrant, Gospel loving kind. Even while it seems Christianity should be stagnant, the body of Christ is alive and flourishing.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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