Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 1, 2023
We have the freedom to declare our faith in Jesus

If you read through the Bible you will find many instances where people are told they are to talk about their beliefs about Jesus, and about the way of salvation, of which Jesus said He is the only way.

John 14:6 states, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” That is a very clear statement, and although you may not agree with Jesus, you shouldn’t be allowed to keep others from sharing Jesus’ offer of the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

For centuries people in the Western Civilization, and particularly in the United States, would have agreed with that thought, that people should be free to express what they believe about Jesus, or others should be free to disagree about Jesus.

Clearly our beliefs in Christ are at the core of who we are as Christians, and that was a central part of our nation’s beginning and its ongoing history; that people are allowed to express their religious beliefs, not just Christian, but any religion.

But fast forward to the 21st century. A young girl who attends a public school in Mississippi was told by her school principal, who was backed up by the district superintendent, that she was not allowed to wear a “COVID19 required mask” that read “Jesus loves me.”

That is it – “Jesus loves me.” It didn’t say anything about what YOU need to believe, or that WHAT you believe is not true. It simply made it clear that Jesus loves that little girl.

In addition, there’s been an increase in our society by many who refer to Christians as the “American Taliban.” This is an epithet especially slung toward those who are pro-life, believing that the pre-born are persons that deserve protection and the pursuit of life as much as any other person, and it is also a slang term cast at some Christian missionaries.

What has occurred in our nation that those who care about life, or desire to share how much God loves you by giving up their time and often resources to spread the “good news” that God so clearly shares in the Bible, should now be seen as a threat to be silenced? That itself would take a series of articles, not just one.

Clearly we live in a time where darkness is trying desperately to overcome the light, so much so that it has convinced some of the powers that be that even a little nine-year-old should not be allowed to let others know that Jesus loves her.

BUT, and this is critical, as important as those questions and concerns are, even more important is, “How are we going to respond to such censorship and persecution in the land of the free?”

Actually, the way we respond in our “free” society should be no different than how Jesus and His followers responded to persecution and censorship back in the first century controlled by the iron-fisted Roman Empire.

Remember, more than once Jewish leaders tried to stone Jesus for speaking the truth. Clearly they didn’t succeed in those particular attempts, but they did eventually crucify Him, believing that would end the hopes of that “troublesome” man.

Obviously they didn’t succeed in silencing His gospel. In fact, it was their attempt to silence Him that actually led to His eternal victory over our enemies of sin and death. God makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 that God kept the powers of darkness from realizing that Christ would actually be victorious by being crucified, or else they would not have crucified Him.

We praise God for Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, and the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life given to those who are willing to repent and put their faith in Christ alone, and it is that Good News that we are compelled to share with those we encounter.

And of course you can see those same religious leaders threatening some of Jesus’ followers in Acts chapters 4 and 5, telling them to stop speaking in the Name of Jesus. Their attempts to silence the Lamb of God, and to silence His followers are continuing in our day with increased frequency and intensity.

So again, how should we respond? Peter and John responded quite wisely when they said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” They went on to say that they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard, and we cannot stop speaking about what God has made clear to us through the work of the Holy Spirit – the Bible.

They can threaten us. They can force us to take off our “Jesus saves” shirts. They can even arrest us, as an increasing number of countries do to Christians. But remember what God did through more than one of His servants who were arrested for talking about the way of salvation.

Obviously we are not to be belligerent or intentionally offensive, but we must remember that we are first and foremost accountable to God, and He has called us to care enough about those around us that we will lovingly and boldly tell the truth about Jesus, even if some don’t want us to proclaim such good news.

Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.

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