Christians are being denied jobs or realizing they can no longer work in their chosen fields without compromising their religious convictions. Those who speak up for what is morally right are called bigoted, intolerant or worse.
We need to be careful about putting our hope in any changes in government or leadership to protect us. While there might be a temporary slowing of the process, I believe in the long run these trends will continue, perhaps faster than we think possible. Just look at how things have changed in the last five years.
So what can we do to prepare ourselves for the continuing battle?
Ruth 3 & 4
The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty
By What Authority?
Verses 1-2, “Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”
Today the words may be different, but the heart attitude is the same.
“What right do you have to impose your religious beliefs on me? I can live anyway I please!”
“Who do you think you are? You have no right to refuse your services to me!”
The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty
Today the battle for truth and religious liberty is raging. Truth has become relative. Much like what we just finished reading in the book of Judges, everyone believes they’re free to decide what’s right for them. God’s Word carries no authority for the majority of the people in our nation and much of the Western World.
Christians in the scientific community and in the world of academics have been discredited, marginalized, refused positions, and fired for expressing their beliefs.
Christians are now being attacked and made an example of in the market place. There have even been attempts to intimidate pastors who speak out about homosexuality and gay marriage. Sadly, I believe we can expect these trends to continue in the long run and pick up speed.
If you’ve listened to the news in recent months, you know even free speech itself is being attacked in the very institutions that have traditionally stood for the free exchange of ideas. Students on university campuses are rioting to prevent the expression of opinions and ideas with which they disagree. And those who oppose them are afraid to speak up for fear of becoming targets themselves.
What If It’s Us?
How should we respond if (or perhaps, more accurately, when) we find ourselves in the cross hairs of this intolerant culture? The book of 1 Peter has some things to say on that subject.
In 64 A.D. historians say the Emperor Nero burned a large part of Rome to the ground to make room for palaces and other buildings he hoped would become his legacy. (That begs the question, “What do our politicians justify today in the name of “legacy”?) When accusations were aimed at him, he looked around for a scapegoat and found a convenient target: Christians.
During this time Christians came under intense persecution. They were imprisoned, beaten and persecuted in dozens of ways. Some were dipped in tar and burned as torches, others were thrown to lions, and still others dragged to death through the streets of Rome.
It was during this time and to those people, think about that, to whom Peter wrote this epistle. 1 Peter 2:
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
So first, we should do our best to submit to and show respect for civil authority unless it would be sinful to do so (Acts 4.19-20). That might sound reasonable if a government is seeking to do good and rule justly. But Peter didn’t stop there.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.
If we’re mistreated, it should be for doing what is morally right, not because of our own sinful behavior.
21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.
Just as Jesus entrusted Himself to God, so should we. He will, eventually, right all wrongs. Instead, we should do what Paul told those in the church at Rome (Rom. 12)
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
When we do, we’ll be salt and light to a generation that is in desperate need of Christ.
What Can We Do in the Meantime?
Certainly, we should vote for candidates who we believe will defend religious liberty, but, ultimately, we cannot look to the government to rescue us. Instead, we should prepare ourselves so we’re able to stand firm against the secular onslaught.
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1.6-7,13).
Wishy-washy Christianity won’t hold up. Sunday-only Christians will fall away under the pressure. Religion alone won’t cut it.
So first, we need to be sure that we are in right relationship with God. Have we truly understood the gospel and entered into a right relationship with Him?
Then we need to read, study, and seek to understand the Word of God, His promises to us, and most importantly His character.
We must fill our hearts and minds with the truth and disciple others to do the same, beginning with our children. We can’t leave it to the Sunday school teachers who have our children for an hour or two a week (Deut. 6.6-9).
And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2.2).
We need to be growing.
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ (Eph. 4.14-15).
We need to live obediently.
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5.12-14).
The New Living Translations says, “Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
We mature not by knowing the Word, but by training ourselves to do it. We must not think we can ignore God’s commandments in the little everyday things and believe we’ll be strong enough to obey when tested.
Finally, we don’t need to go looking for persecution and trouble, but we need to trust God to give us the wisdom and grace we need when it comes.
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you (Matt. 10.16-20).
And we need to rejoice that the current trials and persecutions point to the fact that Jesus is coming soon.
Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22.20b).
Today’s Other Readings:
Ruth 3 & 4:
Chapter 3 opens with these verses:
1 Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? 2 Now Boaz, whose young women you were with, is he not our relative? In fact, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor. 3 Therefore wash yourself and anoint yourself, put on your best garment and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Then it shall be, when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies; and you shall go in, uncover his feet, and lie down; and he will tell you what you should do.”
5 And she said to her, “All that you say to me I will do.”
Even though the custom seems very strange to us, Ruth was obeying her mother-in-law and doing the morally right thing to appeal to Boaz to marry her under the levirate law. Boaz commended her for her request. After their marriage, the first child born to Boaz and Ruth was Obed, the grandfather of King David and ancestor of Jesus Christ.
Boaz as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer was a type of Jesus Christ Himself who would later redeem us because we had been sold into sin and had no means to redeem ourselves.
The End of the Wicked
The psalmist compares the ultimate destruction of evil doers and God’s care for the righteous. He acknowledges that the wicked may boastfully appear to succeed for a time, but will ultimately be judged and become a laughing stock.
Meditation, the Heart, and the Lips
Verse 7, “The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.”
Why does the writer of Proverbs compare the “lips” of the wise and the “heart” of the fool? Because the two are so closely tied together.
The reason the wise woman (or man) is able to disperse knowledge is because she has been putting God’s truth into her heart, choosing to view things from God’s perspective, meditating on it, and seeking to be a doer of it.
The fool, on the other hand, feeds and meditates on all the wrong things. We shouldn’t think we can fill our thoughts with envy, bitterness, and anger, and expect wholesome words to come out of our mouths. Eventually our words will reveal what is really in our hearts.
If you enjoyed this post, I hope you’ll share it!
I would love to have you join me on this journey through the Bible. Just sign up for the BIBLE IN A YEAR daily posts so you don’t miss a single one.
Sign up now and receive a copy of “Prayer for Busy, Imperfect Pray-ers: 5 Strategies to Jumpstart Your Prayer Life.”
You can also SIGN UP FOR SPECIAL “CHRISTIAN LIVING” posts, including the new series “A Marriage Make in Heaven?”
I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs:
Mondays The Modest Mom The Art of Homemaking Musing Mondays
Tuesdays Purposeful Faith Tea & Word Tuesday Talk
Wednesdays A Wise Woman Builds Her Home Messy Marriage Coffee for Your Heart Christian Blogger Linkup Women of Intention Mississippi Mom Writer Wednesday Seeking God in All I Do
Thursdays Chasing Community Booknificent Thursdays Dare2Hear
Fridays Missional Women Grace & Truth Faith & Friends Fresh Market Friday Dance with Jesus
Sundays Spiritual Sundays
This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!
“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.