Bob, the president of my civic club, met me as I headed toward the restaurant doors to ask if I would offer the "thought for the day" (read prayer). I gladly agreed. Over the years I've belonged to three well-known civic clubs. Because of my choice of occupation, I guess, I almost became the "official prayer" in each club. No one ever suggested I should edit my prayers or compromise my convictions … until today.
After I offered the prayer I closed as I always do invoking the name of my Lord Jesus. Once we returned to our plates of bacon, pork sausage, eggs, and potatoes, one of the club members sidled to my table to offer me some "friendly advice." I shouldn't pray in Jesus' name at club as there are Jewish members. Evidently the bacon and pork sausage doesn't offend them, but a prayer in the name of a Jewish Rabbi does. Go figure!
It strikes me again how negative our culture's attitudes toward Christians and Christianity have become. Christians are to tolerate and respect the views and convictions of others but rarely is that same toleration and respect extended to believers. Christians who hold strong convictions must compromise those convictions so not to offend those who have no convictions, few convictions, or, at minimum, different convictions. It didn't matter that by telling me, in a friendly manner of course, what I could or could not pray I was offended. I mean, after all, I've opened sessions of the Idaho State Congress and no one told me I couldn't pray "in Jesus' name." I offered prayer on an almost weekly basis at the clubs I joined in Boise, ID, and North Canton, OH, and no one criticized me or told me I couldn't or shouldn't pray "in Jesus' name."
Oh, by the way, all these clubs had Jewish members as well as those who held no religious beliefs whatsoever. But, then, this is, after all, California. You might know that in the nation's most liberal state (except for perhaps New York) you are free only to express views that don't offend anyone else. You see, that's one of liberalism's strongest characteristics – intolerance.
More Christians have died because of others' intolerance than for any other reasons. It has been so since the days of the Roman Empire. Rome tried to stamp out Christianity for its intolerance. You see, Christians dared to say the only way to God was through commitment to Christ. So with the chopping block, the Romans refused to tolerate the intolerance of those who lovingly spread their message by word of mouth.
In honesty, I have to acknowledge that a few boneheads over the centuries tried to spread Christianity at sword point. Charlemagne conquered regions and races at the point of the sword forcing "conversion" at sword point. These conversions were rarely, if ever, heartfelt or genuine. Genuine Christianity can't be forced upon someone; it must come as a response to the "good news."
Christians are losing the "culture war" in this nation as revealed in the increasingly bold suppression and oppression of the Christian message, Christian values, and Christian people. For years now Christians have been the subject of a concerted effort to stifle their talk and their walk. The message to believers is, Keep your faith private and shut up in the walls of your home and your church and don't bug us.
Dear readers, I hope you see this for what it is – a blatant attempt to silence the message. Perhaps we need to hear once again the words of Peter the other apostles, "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:20) With the words of the Great Commission echoing in your ears, obey God!