Summary: God says to the wealthy, wicked oppressor: Weep for your miseries are coming. But He says to you and me who have trusted His Son: Wait for your Master is coming. Don’t quit. Don’t complain, and don’t lose your cool, because Jesus is right at the door!
Once upon a time, there was kindergarten teacher in Texas, who was helping one of her students put on his cowboy boots. He asked for help, and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn't want to go on. By the time they got the second boot on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, “Teacher, they're on the wrong feet.” She looked, and sure enough, they were.
It wasn't any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet. He then announced, “These aren't my boots.” She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, “Why didn't you say so?”
Once again, she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner had they gotten the boots off when he said, “They're my brother's boots. My mom made me wear 'em.” Now she didn't know if she should laugh or cry, but she mustered up what grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again.
Helping him into his coat, she asked, “Now, where are your mittens?” He said, “I stuffed 'em in the toes of my boots.” (John Beukema, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; www.PreachingToday.com)
Life is like that at times. You push and pull to get things done, and it seems like everything is working against you, especially for the believer in Christ today.
Christians today are experiencing more and more persecution than ever before even in our own country. For the first time ever last year (2016), the Washington, D.C., based human rights group International Christian Concern, or ICC added the United States to their annual list of the world’s persecutors of Christians and countries that are regressing in religious freedom. They listed the United States, along with Mexico and Russia as “new and noteworthy” nations in their 2016 “Hall of Shame Report” (www.wnd.com/2017/01/u-s-on-list-of-christian-persecuting-nations/#UoSuglxYdBHAZAU5.99)
Think about it. In the last few years, Christians have been fined, fired, or otherwise censored for their faith right here in the United States of America. For example:
The mayor of Houston subpoenaed the sermons of five Protestant pastors to see if their preaching violated a new city ordinance related to discrimination against homosexuals.
InterVarsity, one of the largest Christian college organizations in the country, has lately been “derecognized,” or denied the privileges allowed to other student groups, on campuses in numerous states—this, for being what one writer dubbed “the wrong kind of Christian,” that is, those who believe traditional moral teaching.
A high school football coach was suspended in Washington State in 2015 for kneeling to say a prayer at the end of a game.
American military chaplains claim to have been reassigned because their faithfulness to traditional Christianity.
Small business owners working in the wedding industry have been heavily fined for refusing to take pictures or bake a cake celebrating same-sex ceremonies.
Then there is the Christian staffer at a day-care center who would not address a six-year-old boy as a girl. She was fired because of it.
A teacher was fired in New Jersey for giving a curious student a Bible.
Kenneth Howell, an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois, was hired to teach a class in modern Catholic social thought. Yet he was suspended for teaching modern Catholic thought about natural law. The head of the religion department explained that his exposition of Church doctrine concerning homosexuality caused accusations of “hate speech.” …
A U.S. Marine in North Carolina was court-martialed, given a bad-conduct discharge, and denied military benefits because she pasted a motivational passage from Isaiah 54:17 near her office computer: “No weapons formed against me shall prosper”. According to a military judge, the quotation “could be interpreted as combative… [and] could easily be seen as contrary to good order and discipline.”
Scot McKnight says, “These disparate stories taken from recent headlines are examples of a toxic new force now hurtling across the United States and other advanced societies. They are part of the mounting toll of a widespread and growing effort to shame, punish, and ostracize people because of what they believe. This is moral and social change for the worse—and not only in the United States, but across the boundaries of what can still be called Western civilization. (Scot McKnight, “Are Christians in the USA Persecuted”, Patheos; www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/ 2017/03/23/christians-usa-persecuted)
So how are we Christians supposed to respond to such a culture? How do we live and behave in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile to our values? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to James 5, James 5, where James addresses how followers of Christ should respond when people are hostile to them.