As believers in Christ, we have a higher calling, known commonly as the “great commission” which comes from the book of Matthew chapter 28, verses 18 to 20, which reads as follows;
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
To put this into proper context, Jesus had been crucified and now risen from the dead, speaking before his disciples for the final time, after which he would ascend into heaven. This message is not limited to those early followers but is carried forward by all that accept the free gift of salvation thus becoming disciples of Christ. Jesus is passing the torch so to speak and giving us His direct guidance, we are to share the light of salvation to a lost world.
It seems simple enough, as a believer, we have all come to that point where we’ve confessed our sins and professed our belief that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected by God. Romans chapter 10 verse 9 states;
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Yet somehow we complicate matters, allowing our own agenda and bias to enter the equation, or we fall into traps laid by our adversary. Our best intentions are thus lost in the fallout. I believe we often underestimate the craftiness of our adversary. Have you ever stopped to consider that Satan has existed much longer than man and throughout time has worked long and hard to destroy what God created in His own image. 1 Peter chapter 5 verse 8 offers this warning,
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.
Basically, Satan has a huge advantage over us in that he has been working at his craft for thousands of years and many of us have been followers of Christ for a few decades at most. Thankfully, through Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit, we have power over Satan. 1 John chapter 4 verse 4 states in part; because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
The world is ignorant in the ways of God, but that is not their fault. How can they know the truth unless we allow the light of Christ to shine through ourselves in all that we do? This is the very foundation of our call to service through Christ’s great commission to His disciples. Yet often times in our best intentions, we fall into Satan’s traps….the very tricks that he has laid out for believers throughout history. Satan may have lost our souls to eternal life in Christ, but that doesn’t mean he is finished with us. His work goes on and he will stop at nothing to silence our witness. I often wonder, does our enemy sit back and laugh at how easily we are sometimes derailed and rendered ineffective. As the old saying goes, at times it must be like taking candy from a baby.
Let us take an example from recent headlines, this story came out of Oregon, regarding a Christian couple that owned a bakery. Their website proclaimed the sanctity of a man and a woman coming together in marriage and included John 3:16 at the bottom of the page. Anyone visiting their business would know beyond any doubt that the owners are believers in Jesus Christ. One day two women approached the business seeking a wedding cake for their upcoming same-sex wedding. I do not believe for one second that they chose this particular bakery at random. This brings me to my point, which is not to condemn the bakery or its owners, but to shed light on an alternative scenario that I want you to consider. Whether this couple came in with an agenda or not, the way the story played out is not only predictable but also tragic in the fallout for this bakery. The owners refused to bake a cake for the wedding and took the position that to do so would go against their beliefs as Christians. They denounced same-sex marriage and refused to provide service to the couple. The owners soon found themselves in court and all over the news media as intolerant and hateful people that had discriminated against the gay and lesbian community. A judge would eventually rule against them, they were fined a hefty sum upwards of one hundred fifty thousand dollars and ultimately closed the bakery.
Pending before the Supreme Court today is the same story but it involves another Christian business in another state that also refused to provide service to a same-sex couple. You can read our message on that story through this link – What Price Victory?
On the one hand, we have people in a business that have publicly declared their faith in our savior Jesus Christ. I believe that our adversary, the very one that Peter warned us about as being a lion roaming about seeking those he may destroy, was squarely behind this directed public attack on these owners. As I stated earlier, I do not believe these customers simply picked this establishment out of thin air, I believe they went there with an agenda and they received the denial of service that they anticipated all along. In the aftermath, we have a business shut down and more importantly, we have an enemy that has furthered his cause in the court of public opinion.
I want to put forth an alternative scenario, one in which the bakery does not compromise their beliefs, but takes advantage of the opportunity to follow our number one expectation, the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ. To go back to the beginning, the couple walks in and requests a cake for their same-sex wedding. What if, instead of denying service, the owners engaged this couple in a conversation. You see, at this point, I think they had an opportunity to share the love of Christ with this couple, to be the light in an otherwise darkened world. If the owners seized this moment, possibly asking the couple to sit down, enjoy a free cup of coffee while perusing the many examples of wonderful cakes they could provide, they would have opened the door to untold possibilities in sharing their faith. While discussing their faith, they could and should acknowledge that they do not believe in same-sex marriage, that the bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman. But having said that, the door is now wide open for them to share their own personal testimonies…to acknowledge that they were lost sinners and how God brought them to salvation through Jesus Christ who died for all of our sins and conquered both sin and death through the resurrection. What response would this couple have to such an outpouring of the love of Jesus Christ? How would this have ended if they had chosen this path as opposed to the denial of service?
I would take it a step further, at this point what if they had not only offered to make the cake but told the couple that they would pray over every ingredient and make this cake with all the love they could muster. What if they took this opportunity to ask the couple if they could pray together, to ask that God watch over them and guide them and if they have not yet experienced the free gift of salvation, that the Holy Spirit would work in their hearts to one day bring them to that place of amazing grace. What if they told the couple to please share with those that attend the ceremony that the wonderful cake they are enjoying came from their bakery and they would love to have all of their business as well. How many more opportunities could there have been to share Christ with their circle of friends? After all, isn’t that the point, the reason we are here? Matthew chapter 5 verse 15,
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
I would say at this point, maybe the couple is receptive or maybe they would turn and leave….the choice would have been theirs to make, not the bakery in denial of service. This would not have ended up in court and all over the national media. Either way, the seeds would have been planted and this bakery would still be in business today. Most important of all, at the very least, a dialogue would have been started and maybe this couple and some of their friends would have returned for more visits.
Think about the calling we have from Jesus Christ, then think about the role we play and the outcome we desire. Do you take a firm stance and refuse to do business with those that participate in activities that go against the beliefs we share or do you consider the opportunity you have before you to share a witness? On a personal level, I have to wonder, did any of these businesses have a vetting process to ensure they did not serve anyone that was violating the sanctity of their beliefs? Did they serve the adulterer? How about the client that is drowning in envy and hatred? Are these not also sins that go against the beliefs of the Christian church?
I’m not trying to stir the pot, but what are the goals and determined outcome….to lead a lost world to know the love of Jesus Christ. The same love that covered a multitude of our own sins and brought us to salvation. A lost world knows nothing of this love and unfortunately, many of today’s TV evangelists are doing nothing to bring the lost to salvation, they are speaking that message of comfort, self-help, and prosperity to the itching ears of a restless world. We should never expect the lost to act in a way that is pleasing to our God but that’s why we are here…..to serve as His missionaries right where we are each and every day. What a tremendous opportunity to bring the unconditional love of Jesus Christ to those that may never hear or experience that love any other way. God knows our heart and I dare say, any bakery owner or florist that extends the love of Christ to sinners, by sitting down with them at their table, serving them, witnessing to them, will always be supported by our heavenly Father. The world, the church, in particular, may throw stones, but how else can we reach a lost world?
Through it all, we have to remind ourselves, what is our goal and what are the outcomes? We should not compromise our beliefs, but don’t let that become a trap whereby we miss opportunities to share the joy and love that we have experienced through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The enemy will set the trap, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us see and avoid it, otherwise, our best intentions will fall to the wayside…and for the enemy, like taking candy from a baby.
*(photograph courtesy of Olivia Kay Photography used with permission)
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