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What if We’re Opposing the Gospel?

The last five years have been some of the more discouraging to watch, with different voices seeming to oppose the gospel at every turn. Those voices opposing the gospel have always been there, of course. How could they not be? God’s work of redeeming and restoring the world through Jesus is a threat to the powers at work in this world.

Opposition Has Always Existed

This is something we see all throughout the Scriptures and through history. Whenever God’s people are committed to God’s work, they can expect opposition. The early church faced it when the first Christians being driven out of Jerusalem. Opposition followed Paul wherever he went. The life of the church in the late first through early fourth centuries was marked by periods of intense persecution. But God’s work continued. The gospel continued to go forward. He was building His kingdom as people believed the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

We have to remember that opposition to the gospel has always existed and will always exist until the day Jesus returns to make all things new. And it also means that opposition will come in many different forms.

Opposition Exists Right Now

In some parts of the world today, opposition looks like outright persecution. This is everyday life for Christians in the parts of the Middle East and in China, for example. And it’s something that we have not experienced here in North America, no matter what someone shouting on social media would say otherwise.

We can speak the truth in love. We can worship Jesus freely and openly, even in areas where pandemic-related restrictions have forced some pivoting.

And we need to both recognize and be thankful for it.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t opposition to the gospel here, including in our own church communities. Christians get the side-eye from those who know very little about what we believe or only hear the noisier voices out in the ether. There is a suspicion about us, as those outside the church see increased disparities between our profession of faith and our practice. There is an ever-escalating opposition to the truth itself, right down to the very idea that there is truth at all—itself not a new problem, as it’s been the problem since the garden, ever since the serpent asked, “Did God really say…?”

Personal Autonomy and Opposing the Gospel

In our day, that opposition to the truth rears its head most prominently when the truth conflicts with our society’s most dearly held value: Personal autonomy. Or maybe it’s better to call it our radical individualism, this misguided and entirely sinful belief that my personal desires and freedoms are the most important. That I must be free to do whatever I want, however I want, no matter the consequences.

My body. My choice. My happiness. My truth.

We’re swimming in this ethos at every moment of every day. We can’t escape it. It’s all around us on, in the news, in social media, music, books, movies—everywhere.

We cannot escape it. But we need to recognize it so we do not fall into its trap.

Sadly, it’s entirely possible that many of us already have.

That, to me, is the most discouraging thing about the current state of the world. As a Canadian living here in America, that is where I see the greatest opposition to the gospel at this moment. I see it so often coming from, not even from the people that we’re trying to reach with the gospel, but from American Christians who seem overly concerned with their own rights, freedoms, choices, whatevers.1

Worse, I see it being exported out into the rest of the world.

Putting Freedom in its Place

But if we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we need to remember that we are not our own. We were bought for a price. That means our freedoms are secondary to that.

To put it bluntly, perhaps we need to stop throwing tea in the harbor for five minutes and start following Jesus. Perhaps we need to repent of the ways we are opposing the gospel ourselves.

That includes those of us who aren’t Americans—and those who don’t live in America.

Wherever we live, whatever temptation to succumb to the “me first” mindset exists, we need to live according to the truth: we belong to Jesus. We are not our own. And while our freedoms are a great gift, they are secondary. Value them, honor them, but don’t put them above the gospel.

Imagine what would happen if we did that.

Maybe, just maybe, it would change the world.

Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash

  1. This is a problem on both sides of the political spectrum, for what it’s worth. ↩︎
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