THE WORLD’S HATRED OF CHRIST’S FOLLOWERS

Once again, we see the hatred and intolerance of the world toward the body of Christ. In New Jersey, a Christian woman who worked as a barista at Starbucks Coffee Shop said she was fired from her job when she refused to wear the company-sponsored “Pride” T-shirt, glorifying homosexuality. She said Jesus condemned the practice as being “unnatural.” The company’s official response was that the shirt reflected Starbucks’ commitment to “inclusion and diversity” and proclaimed the company “does not discriminate on the basis of religion.” Really?

Isaiah 5:20 (NKJV): “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV): “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Rom. 12:2 (CSB): “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

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“WE’RE ‘INCLUSIVE,’ SO YOU’RE FIRED!”

A RECENT ARTICLE in the New York Post reported that a Christian woman in New Jersey was fired from her job in August 2019 for refusing to wear a company-sponsored homosexual “Pride” T-shirt.

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Starbucks Pride T-Shirt 2019

The woman, who filed a wrongful termination lawsuit  in November 2020, said she told her employers she wanted to follow the Bible’s teaching, which condemns homosexuality, but her employer said her position violated the company’s “core values.”

LoveAndGrace blogged last week about the world’s discrimination against Christians in the name of “inclusion.”

The woman, Betsy Freese, was employed by Starbucks Coffee Co. as a barista from December 2015 until her termination in August 2019. 

Freese charged that being forced to wear the T-shirt as a condition of employment was “tantamount to forced speech” because the Bible defines marriage as the permanent and monogamous union of one male and one female, a message counter to that proclaimed on the T-shirt.

She said store managers were aware of her religious beliefs because she regularly asked for time off on Sundays and certain evenings to attend church.

‘THEY KNEW MY BELIEFS’ 

WHILE FRESSE SAID the store’s managers knew of her religious beliefs, she was fired for refusing to wear the “Pride” shirt. 

The newspaper said the company told NBC News that the lawsuit was “without merit” and stated in the woman’s termination notice that the company’s corporate policy endorses the core values of “inclusion and diversity, and [that we] welcome and learn from people with different backgrounds and perspectives.”

(NBC further reported that in September, two workers at Kroger supermarket in Arkansas filed a similar lawsuit, claiming they were fired for refusing to wear a store apron with a rainbow heart emblem on it.image-20

(The plaintiffs, Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd, maintained the logo was an endorsement of the LGBTQ community, which violated their belief “that homosexuality is a sin,” according to their complaint. After being disciplined for violating the store’s dress code, both Lawson and Rickerd were ultimately terminated.)

Starbucks further stated that it “does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.” The federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says it is unlawful for a place of employment to discriminate on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

The newspaper article picked up by ChurchLeaders.com said that on Aug. 22, 2019, Fresse was told by a company district manager that she was being fired for “violating Starbucks’ ‘core values.’”

Fresse said in her lawsuit that “every Christian is called to love and treat everyone with respect and compassion” regardless of their religious or other beliefs. 

DEATH OF ‘ABSOLUTE TRUTHS’

WHAT IS HAPPENING is the “death of ‘absolute truth’” in a culture that elevates human reason and experience above God’s laws and His design for our lives.

This is the hallmark of the “postmodernist” thought process, where all values and goals are relative, without any being absolute or perfect. So, the thinking goes, what is true for you might not be true for me, and what is true for me might not be true for you.COFFEE.SHOP

It’s the theory behind several popular refrains: “Follow your bliss,” “Whatever floats your boat,” “Whatever works for you,” “Do what’s inside of you,” “You’re okay; I’m okay,” and “You do you, Bro; I’ll do me.”

In his article “Postmodernism,” in the creationist website, AnswersInGenesis.org., Dr. Carl J. Broggi concluded that in the postmodernist view of the world, “no one is really wrong except for those who hold to absolute truth.” Broggi is senior pastor of Community Bible Church in Beaufort, SC. 

“Because truth cannot absolutely be known in their religion, the highest virtue for the postmodern man is tolerance, but not as the word has traditionally been defined. In the past, when Americans used the term tolerance, it was understood to mean that everyone has a right to have their viewpoint respected,” Broggi writes.

He concludes: “‘Tolerance’ for the postmodernist is to be extended only to those who embrace a relativistic worldview. In practice, since postmodernism cannot possibly coexist with a worldview that embraces absolute truth, they are intolerant of those who do not agree, particularly Christians.”

Broggi says that what the world believes, according to its postmodernist viewpoint, is that “because Bible-believers insist their point of view concerning moral absolutes and salvation in Jesus Christ is correct and other views are aberrant, they [the Christians] should be defined as intolerant.”

POSTSCRIPT

THIS, IN FACT, is what we see. It is the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. 

Look again at the text source for this article, particularly the verse from Isaiah 5:20, warning us against labeling as “good” or “benign”  those things that God calls “evil.”

J33.Suffering for the GospelOr consider 2 Timothy 4:3, where God says that men will “turn away” from the truth and follow falsehoods of their own design.

As they do so, the will run afoul of Romans 2:2, where God tells us not to be conformed to the world and its beliefs but that we should hold fast to that which is the “good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

That is what Betsy Fresse tried to so, at least according to the public record as explained in her lawsuit. It is a story of “inclusion” — which should mean embracing everyone — but always excludes the Bible-believing Christian because the Christian believer, unlike non-believers, embraces the truth that God has revealed — not man’s truth, but the Creator’s truth.

As Jesus termed it in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His crucifixion (John 17:17 NIV): 

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

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PRAYER

Our Heavenly Father, God of all Creation, Maker of Heaven  and Earth, You created man in Your image to reflect Your glory and to worship You. We OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAconfess, O Lord, that too many of us have been arrogant, prideful, and willful, ignoring You and Your design for our lives. Those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus repent of our sin, and we pray for those among us who are lost in spirit and destined for eternal separation from You. O Lord, burden our hearts to reach out to them and share with them the Truth of Your Word, the saving grace of Your love for us. In Jesus’ almighty and magnificent name we pray. AMEN

I AM SO NOT LIKE JESUS – I WISH I WERE

God initially chose the Jewish people as a conduit through which He would reveal Himself to the world He created. When they rejected His Son as their long-anticipated Messiah, God then called the Gentiles to join His movement through the church. We are privileged to play a part in God’s will, and it becomes our responsibility to follow His lead. Today, God is calling Jews and Gentiles alike, and He will hold us responsible for how we respond.

Ephesians 3:6 (CSB): “The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 

Acts 1:8 (NASB2020): “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”

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MY STRUGGLE TO BE LIKE JESUS

LET ME ADMIT UP FRONT that I find it difficult to be like Jesus, especially when it means being like Jesus 24 hours a day, every day.

I cannot match the incredible love He displayed toward everyone, even his  enemies. He 69.Love_Godforgave the Roman soldiers nailing Him to a cross because they did not know what they were doing! (Luke 23:24) 

I’m more like the Bob Dylan song of old: “You say you’re lookin’ for someone … Someone who’ll die for you and more, but it ain’t me, Babe; it ain’t me you’re lookin’ for.”

The more you follow Jesus, the more you’ll see that He takes what we do, that which seems natural to us, and turns it upside down—turn the other cheek, walk the second mile, pray for those who harm you, love those who hate you, be last instead of first, serve others instead of expecting others to serve you, bear one another’s burden. 

Everything Jesus did — and expects us to do — is completely opposite, upside-down, and inside-out from the way most of us live.

The problem is this: Too many Christians have turned following Jesus into a religious pursuit instead of a life pursuit. To them, He’s a Sunday morning ornament to decorate their self-image, when He wants to be a guide who leads His people in all righteousness.

JESUS HOLDS US ACCOUNTABLE

With great privilege comes great responsibility.

Jesus proclaimed it this way: “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” Luke 12:48 (GNT)

In His Great Commission, Jesus gave His disciples — and us — the task of taking His message of salvation and reconciliation to the entire world, but He assured us that He would stay with us and help us through this  process.

That brings us to the critical question: During times of trouble, what are Christians called to do? 

THE ISSUES OF OUR DAY

What should our response be, as believers, in the aftermath of, say, a mass shooting?

CLASSROOMWe watch in horror as news reports come in of young lives being snuffed out at a school, or worshippers at a church or synagogue being shot, or shoppers at a suburban mall mowed down like ducks at a county fair.

What do we say about the images of left-wing rioters breaking storefront windows, while scores of looters cart off electronics, sneakers, and other coveted items? 

How do we handle the often acrimonious postings and counter-postings on social media? Do we speak up? Let comments slide? Rebuke the intemperate?

Many of those comments come from unbelievers, who have not received the Holy Spirit, but believers also express themselves publicly, and there should be a difference in tone and substance, but is there?

Are we Christ-like in our reactions and comments about the affairs of our time?

FOLLOWING GOD’S PLAN

How would our culture differ if we lived the way Jesus lived?

Our text source reminds us that God grafted the Gentiles (non-Jews) into the “natural olive tree” of His people when the Jews rejected His Son as their Messiah. 

God, speaking through the apostle Paul in Romans 6:22, tells us that through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, we are freed from the power of sin and live under God’s grace … so we should resist the natural temptation to “act out” as the unbelievers do.pointing_to_gods-word

Instead, we are called to show grace. Grace in our actions, grace in our speech, and grace in our thoughts. Why our thoughts? Because we learn in James 1:15 and Matthew 15:18 that the evil that grows in our hearts  drives our actions and words … unless we come under God’s restraining power. (See “Exposing Our Secret Lives”)

 EMBRACING THE PRIVILEGE

It’s a Privilege for God’s People to be a part of His Plan, even though God’s plan often does not line up with our plan. 

God’s love is for everyone. God is calling on both Gentiles and Jews to proclaim His will for the world. (Ephesians 3) Once God allowed His Son to die on the Cross for our sins, we should see everyone we meet as a potential child of God, not to judge them or condemn them, but to show love and grace toward them.

God wants Jew and Gentile to “share equally in the riches” of being God’s children. (Eph. 3:6) The body of Christ would have Jews and Gentiles together. For centuries, we’ve lived in animosity toward one another, but God wants us to come together under the banner of Jesus Christ.

POSTSCRIPT

Jesus calls us to engage in ministry with Him to reach lost souls.

That is a privilege! The apostle Paul praised God for the privilege of his calling to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles, a people despised by him and his fellow Jews.image-16

Imagine. The God of the Jews proclaimed His love for all of His people. He calls us today to reach all of the “others” we see with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to treat them with love and grace.

For me, it means stretching beyond comfortable limits if that’s where God is calling me.

What does it mean for you?

PRAISE GOD!
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PRAYER

FATHER GOD, all praise, honor, and glory are yours. Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Son to die for our sins. Forgive us, Lord, for judging others, for harboring hostility in our hearts, for distancing ourselves from others who do not look like us or think the way we do. That is our sin. O Lord, make us Your disciples, spreading the love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace that You shower on us so that the world will see You in us and give You the glory. In the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN