TONY ELDER: Be prepared to suffer for the Gospel

Tony Elder

Tony Elder

A couple of weeks ago a popular TV personality was raked over the coals for an interview he had given to a magazine. He had made some comments which various media outlets proceeded to describe by using words such as vile, outrageous and extreme.

What did he say that was so awful?

I’ll admit I haven’t read the full interview. From what I understand, this person may well have expressed some statements in ways I might not appreciate. However, the comments which were being initially reported as the ones befitting the use of the aforementioned adjectives were simply about homosexual behavior being unnatural and being a sin.

My purpose here is not to debate that particular issue. It is simply to point out to those who hold such traditional moral beliefs how far our society has gone and to encourage us to be prepared to deal with this situation in which we find ourselves.

Look again at those words which were used so freely by the media to describe this point of view which has been long-held by much of the world throughout history and which many of us would consider biblical. According to my old Webster’s New World Dictionary, here are a few of the definitions of those words.

“Vile” — morally base or evil; depraved; sinful; offensive to the senses or sensibilities; repulsive; disgusting. “Outrageous” — having the nature of, involving, or doing great injury or wrong; exceeding all bounds of decency or reasonableness; very offensive or shocking. “Extreme” — most remote; far from what is usual or conventional; deviating to the greatest degree from the center of opinion; very severe; drastic.

What does it say about our culture for it to describe biblical truths and values in this manner?

It reveals a society so determined to have its own way that it dares to call any contrary declarations of a holy God evil and sinful. Rather than humbly admitting their error and conforming their behavior to God’s standards, they lash out at what God has said or try to redefine His words to fit their actions.

It also reveals how far our culture has wandered from the Bible for its principles to be considered offensive and shocking. If such a point of view truly is “extreme,” then it reminds us that those of us who uphold what used to be conventional ideas are quickly dwindling into a minority which is despised by a growing section of society.

Some of us need to wake up to the fact that this is no longer the world in which our parents lived. It’s not even the culture many of us knew 25 years ago. It is becoming less friendly and more hostile to anyone who dares to declare certain biblical values.

As we face these challenging days, we need to hear words like the ones the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God” (II Timothy 1:7-8).

We do not need to be ashamed of what the Bible teaches. We need to stand firmly on God’s Word and courageously speak the truth in love no matter how much others will vilify us for doing so. As we do, we should be prepared to suffer for the Gospel.

Now let’s see how quickly I get labeled as outrageous and extreme.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.