Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will be teaching a seminar, “From Fear to Faith,” at The Cove in Asheville, N.C., Oct. 26-28. The first evening’s session will be webcast for free on The Cove website beginning at 7:40 p.m. ET.
It started out as most Sundays do for me. I entered our church’s sanctuary and began to greet a few of those who had gathered to worship. But this time, I was surprised to say the least as I was met by a man fully made up as a woman. He introduced himself as “Cheryl,” and he was wearing a dress and enough makeup to cover his facial hair.
This man had a question for me: “Pastor Bob, I want to know, will you accept me here at your church for who I am?” I answered with a question of my own: “Will you accept me for who I am?” A confused look crossed his face, “What do you mean?”
I replied, “I’m a pastor and this is a Bible-teaching church. And while you’re certainly welcome here, at some point in time I’m going to address the lifestyle that you’ve chosen. Based on what God has revealed in His Word, I’m bound to share that this isn’t His plan or purpose for you or anyone else. So while I certainly welcome and accept you as a guest, I need you to consider if you’re willing to accept me for who I am and what I stand for.” He quietly listened and considered what I had just said.
A couple of weeks later I saw him again. This time, he was wearing jeans and a shirt instead of a dress, and he now wanted to be known as Mike. I’m glad to say that Mike has been growing in his walk with Christ ever since and has faithfully served as part of our church staff for the past eight years.
I share this with you in part to celebrate God’s grace at work in Mike’s life, but also to pose a question: What were my other options? I could have kept quiet and so sanctioned a way of life that unquestionably cuts against the grain of God’s heart. But that wouldn’t have helped Mike, and it certainly wouldn’t have been healthy for me.
Yet, as the world becomes more brazen in asserting its values, I’m seeing a troubling tendency within the Body of Christ to placate this mounting pressure by keeping quiet as wrong is being promoted as right. Many of us have become so conscious of the Bible-thumping stereotype we all want to avoid that we’ve become an opposite yet equally ungodly example.
We’ve forgotten three important things. For starters, we’ve forgotten our place. The Bible couldn’t be clearer when it comes to the Christian’s place in this world. It’s a transient and temporary one. We’re pilgrims passing through on our way to the enduring and eternal Kingdom of God (1 Peter 2:11, Hebrews 11:13).
But we lose sight of this. We get lulled into the lie that we should preoccupy ourselves with this world, and we put all of our eggs in earth’s basket. When that happens, we start caring more about what other people think about us than what God thinks.
Soon we’ll all stand before the One to whom we will give an account (Romans 14:12, Hebrews 9:27), and He won’t care how popular we were with people who needed to know His salvation. That’s not our place on this planet. Our place is to reflect His righteousness in the short window of time that we’re here (Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 5:1).
Secondly, we’ve forgotten our power. A lot of times we’re too paralyzed with fear to stand for what’s right. Peter had the same problem. When the time came to take a stand for the Lord, he caved in to his personal fears and insecurities (John 18:17, 25, 27). But then something happened. He received supernatural strength from God’s Holy Spirit to be a witness to the world for Christ’s sake (Acts 1:8, 2:4).
In the same way, God wants to empower our lives with His Spirit so we can effectively point the world to His truth and salvation (Ephesians 5:18). This is not an optional aspect of the believer’s life. Just as faith in Jesus is necessary in order to become a Christian, the filling of the Holy Spirit is necessary in order to live as a Christian (Galatians 5:16). And when we simply ask God to fill us with His Spirit’s presence, we receive the supernatural power needed to overcome our natural fears (2 Timothy 1:7).
Finally, we’ve forgotten our past. We’ve lost touch with just how miserable we were when we were living in the world apart from Christ. In many ways, a life of sin is its own punishment. I know from my own experience, I was so empty, so lonely, and so desperate for something without even knowing what it was. Listen, it was the forgiveness and freedom from sin that can only be found in Jesus Christ (John 3:16, Romans 5:18). But someone had to be bold enough, loving enough, to tell me that my life was filled with sin (Romans 3:23).
Worldly people aren’t any different. And yet we often go out of our way to not offend them in the name of love. But wouldn’t the most loving thing be to identify sin as sin so they can actually be set free from it?
As God’s people, we’re way past the time of pretending we can keep quiet as our society strays further and further from His truth. God has called us out of this world so we could play a part in His plan to save it (Romans, 10:15, 2 Corinthians 5:19). We can only play that part when we remember our place, our power, and our past.
©2012 Bob Coy