For Such a Time as This…
First published at christianpost.com on August 10, 2012.
In the Old Testament book of Esther, the heroine for whom the book is named finds herself in an extremely dangerous situation. She is a Jew who is married to a foreign king who is advised by an evil man named Haman. Haman devises a plan to eliminate all of the Jews in the kingdom, and the only Jew with access to the king is Esther herself. Queen Esther then approached her uncle Mordechai who asks her, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” The unlikely rise of a member of a captive class to the house of a powerful king during a time of such political danger was, in the estimation of Mordechai, a providential intersection of events. It was a gracious provision of protection from the Lord even in an age when God’s people were being disciplined for their disobedience.
Christians live in perilous times as well. We face a culture around us that does not want to hear the Truth, that wants the church to rubber stamp perversion and ungodliness, and in many parts of the world, Christians die because of their commitments. In the United States, Christians face ostracism and marginalization when we stand for Jesus Christ. BUT, the very best of men courageously stand in the face of all the world can throw at them and echo the confession of Polycarp and say, “…He never did me any injury; how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior.”
Having served on a church staff and being firmly planted in the Southern Baptist Convention (the largest evangelical denomination in America), I understand the risks involved when we address socially and politically important issues in the church. The culture labels us obnoxious busy-bodies and worse, and many in the church find any discussion of moral issues that are in the political spotlight to be inappropriate. Understandably, many of these people are concerned that the church will be prosecuted by political parties and politicians, and certainly, that has happened. Despite internal and external pressure, however, there are pastors and congregations that are courageous enough to stand on a sure and firm biblical foundation and unapologetically get involved in advancing God’s perspective on these issues.
One such pastor and church is Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church near San Diego, CA. This pastor and this church have stood for what is right in a culture that simply does not want to hear the truth. Pastor Jim and his congregation were very publicly involved in the recent Proposition 8 initiative that DID define marriage in California as a union between a man and a woman, until a liberal panel of judges reversed the will of the people and effectively sent the issue to the United States Supreme Court.
Recently, I wrote about an event that was held at Skyline Church in which two scholars with connections to the Ruth Institute and two prominent proponents of homosexual marriage squared off in a discussion of the definition of marriage. In that article, I failed to mention the contribution of that congregation and pastor. From my own experience in ministry, I can testify that no evangelical pastor without the respect and trust of his congregation would ever let a gay, theologically liberal episcopal bishop OR a conservative Roman Catholic woman anywhere near a microphone in the church building. The fact that this was even possible is a tremendous testimony of the relationship of trust that surely exists between Pastor Jim and the members of Skyline Church. That type of relationship between under-shepherd and sheep is earned only through faithful commitment and genuine love. Thank you, Skyline Church, for supporting your pastor—that type of support is honored by God. Thank you, Pastor Jim, for loving your church—that type of love is only borne from the love of Christ.
It is clear that we are in an age when the divinely ordained institution of marriage is under assault and there is immense cultural pressure to redefine manhood, womanhood, and parenthood. For such a time as this, God has providentially brought together a faithful church, their loving pastor, and a smart and articulate Roman Catholic woman and given them a powerful voice for truth for which this Southern Baptist is thankful.