|Justin Martyr, a Samarian Christian, burned at the stake in Rome by order of the Prefect Rusticus|
Ask the martyrs.
You cannot force someone to believe otherwise if they have chosen to remain firm in their convictions.
No amount of yelling, demonizing, cajoling or even isolation will bring someone over to your side if they are adamantly opposed to what you believe.
So why try?
Yet that is exactly what Christians have been doing since Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority with Paul Weyrich in the late 1970’s.
The Moral Majority, making common cause with millions of evangelical believers, decided that the great moral failings of the American people could be righted through the political process and the passage of laws designed to police immoral behavior.
It all sounded too good to be true, and as it turns out, it was.
Albert Mohler, longtime head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has called the election results from last week a “moral catastrophe.”
They are only a catastrophe if you believe the church ought to be in the business of trying legislate our views, instead of lovingly trying to persuade people that Jesus offers them a better path, not just temporally, but eternally.
I wonder if we Christians, tired of seeing people reject our worldview, have decided that the best way to bring people to our point of view is through the force of the ballot box.
Is it possible, because we have been unable to get people to see the world as we do, that rather than reconsider our methods, we have unwittingly outsourced Jesus to the politicians?
Have we decided that since we cannot persuade dissenters to our side, we are instead no different from the Roman Empire that wrote them off through execution?
Whatever happened to humbly considering others “as better than ourselves,” as the Apostle Paul called us to do in Chapter 2 of his Epistle to the Philippians? How about having the same mindset as Jesus?
As followers of Jesus, we have an incredible message of love, redemption and acceptance. The message of Jesus is not one of contempt, hate and disgust. Yet for many, who disagree with our views, that is how we treat them.
As Christians, we celebrate the martyrs of our faith. We marvel at how they stood up against the power of the state, bravely accepting death. They are our heros... men like Thomas, Paul, Peter... women like Perpetua, Felicity and Joan of Arc... and of course, Justin, Ignatius and Origen.
Yet we have forgotten the lessons those great men and women of faith taught us. Force will never win out in the battle for the hearts and minds of the committed.
If we want to convince others of the truth of Christ, and expect to see life change in people on a daily basis, we can’t force it, as the Pharisees found out.
Maybe, just maybe, if we looked to Paul’s admonition, we would not need the power of the ballot box, or any other kind of force to convince people, because they would see it in our lives.
Now that would be a powerful antidote to a moral catastrophe.