Salvation is the free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), but following the Lord Jesus costs something. Jesus made it clear that “whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). In other words, we’re supposed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1-2), and our obedience may cost us relationships with loved ones (Matthew 10:37). It may even cost us our lives, and if you’re not okay with that, Jesus said you’re not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38).
For a long time, followers of Christ in the United States were blessed to live in a country that culturally embraced Christian values. Following Christ wasn’t necessarily easy, because the Bible promises that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet, instead of risking professional success or dealing with the threat of violence, the challenge for American Christians was not becoming complacent and worldly. Rather than changing the culture by making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), it was easy to abandon the passionate love we first had for Christ (Revelation 2:4) to fit in. Everything in moderation, right?
Well, in recent years, things have changed. Mainstream American culture has grown increasingly hostile to Christian values. For instance, an Atlanta fire chief lost his job because he wrote a book calling homosexuality a sexual perversion. For the record, the Bible calls homosexuality an abomination (Leviticus 18:22), a shameful lust (Romans 1:26-27) and it says practicing homosexuals won’t inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Although he didn’t mistreat gays or lesbians, for agreeing with God about homosexuality, Mr. Cochran was fired. The New York Times wrote “It should not matter that the investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians. His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic, and requires that he be held to a different standard.” Put differently, Mr. Cochran can be a Christian, he just has to keep his faith ‘in the closet.’
If you live for God, you will have trouble from the world. Jesus promised that “In the world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). As persecution grows, we ought to “Rejoice and be very glad” because our reward in Heaven is great (Matthew 5:12). There’s nothing to fear. Like the Bible says, “Do not be frightened by your adversaries. This is a sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and this from God” (Philippians 1:28).
Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). Since Christians have the light of life, we are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Certainly, the darker it gets, the brighter the light shines. So, let’s shine brightly, pointing people to the Light in any and every circumstance.