Monday, October 20, 2014

Light and Momentary Affliction in Idaho

The news coming from a small Idaho town brings to mind the phrase "light and momentary affliction," as quoted from the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians.

The city council of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is threatening two Christian pastors who own a wedding chapel that they have to either perform same-sex weddings or face jail time and up to $1,000 in fines.  The city claims that the chapel is a for-profit corporation and must abide by public accommodation rules - allowing anyone from the public to use their services.

Essentially, government authorities are attempting to force two ministers to perform a religious ceremony against their will, violating both their consciences and religious liberty rights.  And more than just "monetary" fines, the city is threatening jail time. 

An invisible barrier seems to have been breached in this story - the threat of jail for those refusing to perform something against their religious beliefs.  Not only will Christians no longer tolerated, but they must be removed from society.  Can you imagine the pictures if the city arrested and hauled away these pastors?  It would have spoken volumes as to how the societal elite views our religious liberties.  

In the Scripture referenced, the Apostle Paul faced persecution that we cannot even imagine in the United States - but he called it all light and momentary affliction compared to eternity with Jesus and being faithful to his calling from the Lord.  Today, Christians throughout the Middle East, China, and various parts of the world face persecution and death for their faith in Jesus Christ, leagues more dangerous than these two pastors in Idaho.

But Christians in America must realize that they can no longer stay silent - neither on the plight of their fellow Christians nor with regard to speaking the Truth . . . "for what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake." (2 Cor 4: 3-5 ESV)

Christians point to examples like the Idaho town to claim that the days of co-existence and tolerance for those of an orthodox Christian faith and those opposed to religious liberty seem to be coming to a rapid end.  Is it inevitable that Christians will lose this battle?  I do not believe so.

But I do not know what will happen.  However, I will heed Paul's admonishment no matter what happens, that "we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Cor 4:16-18 ESV)

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