Thursday, October 4, 2007

Your Best Life: Now or Later?

A Slice of Laodicea Flashback

I've graciously received permission from Ingrid Schlueter to reproduce Slice archives here at Absolute Dominion, therefore from time to time I'll be devoting space to highlights from both the original Slice site, and the more recent effort which was sadly lost due to web hosting debacle.

So sit back and enjoy as Absolute Dominion humbly presents selected Slice posts from a who's who procession of Biblically sound Christian thinkers representing the Christian blogosphere including the likes of: Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries and Christian Research Net, Jim Bublitz of Old Truth, and Ingrid Schlueter of VCY America and Slice of Laodicea.

Posted by Ingrid on October 26, 2005 @ 05:49 PM
Here is my latest column for Christian Worldview Network in honor of Ake Green's stand.

On the Lord's Day morning of July 20th, 2003, 60-year-old Pastor Ake Green ascended his pulpit in his small village church in Borgholm on the western coast of Sweden and opened his Bible. He began to preach humbly from God's Word. He spoke of the bondage of homosexuality and how despite what society says, it is a sin against God. He spoke of God's grace and redemption through the blood of Christ and he announced that there was a way out of the bondage of this sinful lifestyle through the Lord. In Sweden that summer morning, Pastor Green could not have known what that simple sermon would mean to him and his family. He had committed a crime in the eyes of the Swedish government. By preaching from God's Word, he had shown "gross disrespect" for homosexuals and had entered the ranks of criminals, officials said. After a long protracted court case in which the homosexual lobbyists sought to make an example of him, Pastor Green was sentenced on June 29th, 2004 to a month in prison for his "crime". The pastor appealed but the case has now been sent to the Swedish Supreme Court where the case will be heard on November 9. The small remnant of Christians in this hardened socialist nation is rallying around the pastor and his family as he looks at a possible two-year prison sentence for preaching the Gospel.

Somewhere in the go-go, materialistic West of the last few decades, the fact that following Christ will cost something has been obscured. As Christians in America more closely resemble the world, the price for following Christ isn't much of an issue these days. Joel Osteen isn't likely to be arrested anytime soon for his messages to his millions of adoring fans. Christianity is mainstream now; at least what passes for it. Conservative Evangelicals are still pumped from getting George Bush elected a second time and Christianity Today recently featured a muscle-flexing column on Evangelical power and influence in America entitled, "We're Prime Time Now, Baby!" We may be prime time, but are we faithful? I would suggest the evidence is to the contrary.

Pastor Ake Green understands something that we in America have yet to grasp. He is taking part in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. He doesn't want his "best life now". He wants it later, when it counts forever. He and the millions of persecuted Christians around the world who understand that the message of the cross is hated and despised aren't deluding themselves by confusing temporal power with spiritual victory. They know that the road is narrow and difficult. But they also know that it is the only road that will take them to the Lamb.

The Swedish government needs to be confronted over the rank hypocrisy of a nation that views itself as tolerant, while criminalizing a village pastor over his views on the Bible. We should call the embassy in Washington and let Ambassador Lund know that the world is watching how Sweden treats this man. International pressure has ultimately forced the Chinese at times to back down from brutalizing house church leaders. Nothing disinfects like sunlight. But at the same time, let's not be surprised or shocked at what is happening, even though it is difficult to watch. Jesus said that if He was hated, so would we be hated. The servant is not better than his master, He said. The Lord is looking for a remnant Bride that will follow him no matter what the cost.

We in America have a choice to make. Persecution of Sweden's kind and certainly, China's kind has not yet made it to the shores of America. It may someday soon. Until then, how are we living our lives as American Christians? Are we prepared now to turn our backs on temporal comfort to gain the pleasure of our precious Savior, or are we selling our souls for a few more bowls of pottage? If we can't shoulder our crosses now in the midst of freedom, how will we manage when our choice is prison or denying Christ?

Ake Green has it right. May God sustain him and all of those around the world who know that taking up our crosses is not an option. It is essential if we are to navigate the path to the Celestial City.

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.
Some great cause, some great decision, offers each the bloom, or blight,
And that choice goes on forever, twixt that darkness and that light...

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong,
Though her portion be the scaffold and upon the throne be wrong
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

James Russell Lowell