In Alistair Begg’s new book Brave by Faith: God-Sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World, he takes us through the first seven chapters of the book of Daniel and compares what Daniel was facing to the situation Christians face in America today. In our increasingly secular culture, Christians are in the minority, like Daniel living as an exile in a foreign land.
Albert Mohler in his book The Gathering Storm: Secularism, Culture and the Church writes that historic Christianity is now increasingly either rejected or relegated to having no significance in the culture. Studies show a continual decline in church attendance, especially among younger people. Regular listeners of Mohler’s program The Briefing often hear about churches, entire denominations, Christian colleges and institutions caving to the pressures of the secular culture.
In Brave by Faith, Begg tells us that we are starting to feel that the notion of a persecuted church is coming ever closer. He writes:
“Secularism pushes back again and again against what the Bible says about sexual ethics, about salvation, about education, about the role and reach of the state, or about matters of public welfare. Public opinion has turned against Christians.”
He tells us that suddenly as a minority group within an increasingly secularized nation, we are finding out how it feels to be outsiders. And we don’t like it.
He helpfully asks:
“What does it look like to live as a Christian in a society that does not like what Christians believe, what we say, and how we live? How are you going to live in this new normal?”
He asks how we, as Christians, can keep our courage and hope in the midst of this culture. How can we stand firm and live bravely when the wind is blowing hard against us? He tells us that we will face those moments when we will be pushed to go with the flow of our culture rather than be obedient to God in the workplace, the sports club, in how we raise our children, in what we say from our pulpits, and so on. Those moments will reveal what is inside us. He tells us not to assume that we will stand firm in those moments. At the same time, don’t assume that we will have to give in.
A point that has stuck with me since reading the book is when he tells us to think through where to draw the lines you will not cross. He tells us that we will not necessarily all draw all our lines in the same places. The lines may be drawn in different places, but drawn they should be, and crossed they must not be.
So that got me to thinking: What are those lines that I will not cross? What are your lines? These are difficult questions, and I’m speaking to professing Christians here. For example:
- Will you waffle in your view about abortion, or will you stand fast for the sanctity of human life?
- Will you celebrate “Pride Month”, or the LGBT agenda in general?
- Will you stand for the biblical view of marriage? What about specific issues such as same-sex marriage or cohabitation?
- Will you support political candidates or parties that defend religious liberty?
- Will you allow your children to be taught critical race theory in their schools?
- Will you hold to a high view of what the Bible teaches, or will you look the other way on passages that conflict with your personal opinions, beliefs or desires?
- Will you compromise your character in the workplace for the sake of profit, seeking the favor of your leaders?
And there will be many other moments in which Christians will be pushed to go with the flow of our culture rather than being obedient to God. What are some that you can think of?
Begg tells us that we will only live brave like Daniel did if we first know the God who Daniel did. Stand fast dear Christian. God is on the throne and the future is securely in his hands.