Laws of the Lord and those of the land often clash. The ethos on the world and the ethic of the Bible are often counter.
Increasingly, the legislative bodies rule against positions advanced by the greatly outnumbered Christian community.
The head of state himself has on occasion shown disregard for the welfare of the body that believes that to be the best citizens they must be the most devout in the faith world. This does little to assuage the hostility shown the church.
The alienation has gotten to the point that many in the community will not do business with members of the faith community. This hostility has imposed an economic hardship in instances. Should the trend continue to expand, it is conceivable many faith-based businesses can no longer exist.
Opposition to the faith community is so strong it is often, without reason, being blamed for many of society’s problems.
A segment of society that has long called for tolerance, now that the momentum favors their positions, shows no tolerance for the faith community. This hostility has resulted in the faithful being labeled as “partisan” or “biased.” This trend has metastasized to the point where such vitriol intimidates some who are timorous about speaking out against certain public policies.
On the contrary, a number in the faith community have come to realize there is a price to be paid in order to stand by their convictions. Many friendships have been tested and often stronger bonds developed.
The ethos of the culture and the ethic of the faith community are in contention. The dogma of the state and the doctrine of the faith community are increasingly at odds. Something has to give.
Something did give. Perhaps this description has been misleading. The conditions herein described are not attributed to our present society, but to that of the century in which the church emerged, the First Century.
In such an alien environment toward faith groups, the Jewish community was strengthened and the church was born.
A major term of derision used against the faith community was to call them “Christians.” It was intended to be a derogatory title meaning “a partisan of Christ.” Those who used the term considered Christ a rebel against the state and not a deity deserving devotion. After all, Caesar had declared himself to be the god of the Roman world.
However, being called a Christian came to be worn as a mantle of honor.
Tertullian, a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa, in his most famous work, “Apologeticus,” first used the phrase, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
Tertullian illustrated the hostility toward Christianity in this manner: “If the Tiber rises too high, or the Nile too low, the remedy is always feeding Christians to the lions.”
The modern faith community does not face hostility as harsh as those in the First Century, but it should be inspired by the responses of the faithful in that hostile environment.
Against all odds, they put out the altar fires in the temple of Diana and lit the gospel torch in the palace of Caesar, one of whom eventually became a member of the faith community.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church.