"How well we stand on out own feet before God in the world depends on how well we allow the Word of God to influence our thinking and our attitudes; and then...the integrity with which we apply that understanding to life in all its facets."
In 2016, US women’s soccer team defender Jaelene Hinkle refused to play in two international matches because as a Christian she did not want to wear a shirt promoting LGBT pride month.
As one of the best players, she not only sacrificed a lot by her stance but became the focus of abuse by other gay players and their fans.
The Folau issue in Australia divided not only the general population, but worse than that, even the Christian population.
If you read Eternity’s June 2019 article, “After Folau: we are living in the land of Israel”, you would understand what I mean. Why were some Christians, and even Christian leaders so bent on taking an apologetic stance for the biblical references quoted by Folau? [Other aspects of his Church’s beliefs aside.] Do we no longer believe in the unchanging nature of what the Bible states? I am aware that what some people are trying to promote is a ‘softly, softly’ approach to communicating the Gospel ― which also has its place.
We have now heard of another Christian who was dismissed from his position by the University of Sheffield, UK. Felix Ngole was a social work student who posted Bible verses about homosexuality on a public Facebook page as part of a political debate. He was accused of breaching a vague and broadly worded code of conduct. Britain’s second highest court has since ruled that the dismissal was unwarranted lacking insight by the decision makers and imposing a sentence that lacked proportion. What will this do to Folau’s case in Australia, asked John Steenhof, Managing Director of Human Rights Law Alliance?
What are some Christians most afraid of? What society thinks of them, or what God thinks of them? This reminds me of an Old Testament story in 1 Kings 22.
Before Which Tribunal?
A hab, the wicked king of Israel at that time, wanted to retake Ramoth Gilead from the king of Aram but he felt he needed help. So, he called on his neighbour, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. All Ahab’s ‘spiritual advisers’ — the 400 false prophets who were looked after and provisioned by the king — encouraged Ahab, promising victory. Jehoshaphat, however, was a godly king and demanded that they first seek God’s will through a true prophet. When Ahab finally capitulated, Micaiah was brought in, not for a private interview as would have been appropriate if his advice was genuinely sought, but to a specially staged scene.
Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones… with all the prophets prophesying before them. (1Ki 22:10).
Imagine what it would have been like. A lone figure comes onto a scene that has been carefully staged to intimidate him. He is in alien territory. Two kings on their thrones with a vast retinue of hangers-on, and to make things worse, the so-called prophets of God all frenziedly prancing about saying the opposite of what God wanted Ahab to hear. How can Macaiah possibly not be intimidated and just tell the man what he wanted to hear. At first, he does just that. Go on, Ahab, go out and fight the king of Aram, says Macaiah, knowing he was going to meet his end. But would the end result be understood correctly?
So, what is Ahab’s response? How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord? Deep down, even evil people know the difference between truth and a lie. But they want the lie couched as truth.
What gave Macaiah the courage to speak the truth in such an intimidating atmosphere? Here is the answer:
Hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. (v19).
Two tribunals were present that day. The earthly one, full of secular splendour, pomp and power visible to everyone. And… the heavenly tribunal, that God wanted them to be aware of.
Which tribunal did both Ahab and Jehoshaphat need to see? Not the one they had staged, but the one every person on earth has to face both in the present and in the future.
When we allow ourselves to be intimidated by social pressures, we lose sight of the One before whom we stand every day. Cowardice is a temptation that comes to all of us, especially when we feel squeezed by people we know, perhaps friends, relatives, colleagues; when we don’t want others to think poorly of us; when we see only the ‘kings’ of this world and their followers, and fail to see the Lord sitting on HIS throne.
Jesus’ approach to the general population was one of love and compassion, but he also knew how to speak in the strongest terms possible to those who stubbornly refused to acknowledge him and his message. (Mt 23).
Do we need some more people like Jaelene Hinkle, Israel Folau, Felix Ngole and Micaiah who are aware to which tribunal they are answerable.
Our recent experiences
After hackers got into Cheril’s computer and disabled it, it was quite a traumatic time for us. James Jing, a gracious and generous friend from Church spent a whole week restoring it. Fortunately, my computer wasn’t affected.
Gradually, with improvement to her health, Cheril has been able to begin the recovery of the basic Microsoft Office and Adobe programs. Adobe is most important as all our book files are in Adobe InDesign.
Thank you to all who prayed for us. Please continue to do so. We need the Lord’s wisdom, protection and help to complete these projects.
Phoebe, has to conclude her responsibilities at the Singapore Baptist Theological Seminary in September before she can start on the translation of my book, God’s Covenant with Humanity: biblical theology.
Please pray also that we, or our friends in Russia will be able to locate an ‘on-demand’ printer who will be prepared to print all future books in the Chinese version, as well as the already translated Russian versions of this book.
‘On-demand’ publishers seem to be extremely scarce or even non-existent in Russia.