WONDERFUL THINGS: Christian doormats or doorway for Christ?

James Calderazzo
James Calderazzo

As the saying goes, “I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet; however, I do work for a non-profit.” With that said, I am not a prophet, but as I read the news, I do see difficult days ahead for the church in America.

Persecution is coming and is already here for those who love Jesus and seek to follow the teaching of their Lord. It has begun with photographers, bakers and florists who have been brought to court and found guilty of discrimination for their Biblical commitment to marriage between a man and a woman. Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired this past year for writing a book where he stated that homosexuality was a sin even though an investigation found no evidence that Cochran had discriminated against anyone during his employment.

Christians are more and more being portrayed and viewed not just as kooky or behind the times — but as malicious and bigoted. Some are already calling the faithful teaching of God’s Word “hate speech.”

To be quite honest, the church in America has had it good for the last 300 years. Though many brothers and sisters in Christ around the world have suffered greatly for the sake of the Gospel, we have been relatively unscathed. As a result we have come to view our religious freedom in America as normal, when in truth it’s an anomaly. Our crucified Savior told us, “Remember what I told you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

The Apostle Paul, who was intimately acquainted with suffering for the sake of Jesus, went among the young churches “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:20).

The bold Peter even wrote to Christians facing persecution, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (I Peter 4:12).

Yet we can be surprised, and our astonishment reveals that we may be greater strangers to our Lord and His Word than we thought. In the midst of these trials some churches will give in (some already have). They will say we can still preach the Gospel of Jesus but the church’s historic teaching on sexuality will have to go, after all it’s not the most vital thing — Jesus is. But in this case the baby will certainly go out with the bathwater. As Russell Moore has written, “History shows us that those who want a different Jesus — the one who says, ‘Do whatever you want with your body, it’s okay by me’ — don’t want Christianity at all.”

Other Christians simply grow angry that our culture has turned on us. They end up returning hate for hate. Their hearts are hardened as they forget how Jesus rescued us and gave Himself for us when we were still His enemies (Romans 5:10).

As always, we are better served by listening to God’s direction to us in His Word, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called” (I Peter 3:9). When treated poorly, we as believers are not to retaliate, but it does not stop there. Not only do we not retaliate, we bless.

Some people call this doormat theology, but it does not fit. A doormat is something that just lies there as you stomp your feet on it. Our call is not to just lie there, is it? Our call is to stand up, and to instruct gently (2 Timothy 2:25), and to bless. That is not being a doormat, rather it is being a doorway for the grace of Jesus Christ into the life another.

How is this a doorway for Christ’s grace? Because this is what Jesus did. He was rejected and scorned and humiliated and mistreated, and He did not revile in return. Instead, He gave His life to bless those who would reject Him. Following His lead, we will not return evil for evil, because the greatest hope we have is that God will not return evil for evil to us. In Him, we can bless others with this message of hope for all sinners.

Don’t be surprised. Persecution is coming and is here. Will you compromise? Will you hate? Or will you stand by the grace of Christ, in the love of Christ, and bless?

James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin. He can be reached at safeharborpca@gmail.com.