Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” – Mark 1:14
The world is a cruel place. It lacks any sort of sympathy or forgiveness. If you have worked in the board room or on the factory floor you will know it is a place filled with vulgarity. If you have ever walked the halls of a school, you know there are always bullies. If you have sat in a conference room looking at large numbers on a spreadsheet you know that there is rampant greed. It is a world that does not know of forgiveness, and therefore does not practice it. Cancel culture has taken this to the extreme as people are losing their livelihoods over hateful, rude, and disturbing things that they have said or posted when they were in high school. Yet, the goal is not seeking repentance and offering forgiveness, but instead the goal is eradication. Although, within this cruel world there has been the push for places of refuge. This has led to the rise of politically correct language, some necessary and good, others absurd and ridiculous. In education, the creation of “safe spaces” has been the result. Spaces where all thoughts and ideas are created equal. Spaces where all religions, sexual orientations, and genders are welcomed and celebrated. A place unlike the world outside of it. A place where there is no critique, only affirmation and praise. These safe spaces, whether in the school or in the workplace are places of refuge within the world.
At our country’s founding, freedom of religion and the expression of it was valued and encouraged. Not so much anymore when it comes to Christianity. While rights, freedom of speech, and comfort have never been the goal of the church, it appears that this stay of luxurious privilege is beginning to wane away ever so slowly, and it is time to come to terms with this reality. To cry out “persecution” would be an overreaction but there is truth to the fact that the overall attitude towards the church has shifted. It can be seen in a myriad of places. It is in the mocking laugh when someone hears their friend say they plan to save themselves for marriage. It is in the comment section on Facebook when someone stands up for the unborn. It is in the offended gaze you receive when you uphold that marriage is between one man and one woman. There is offense and mockery everywhere. It is for reasons like this that I have heard many people concerned about the future of Christ’s church; I have heard many people afraid of what tomorrow might bring. There is an anxiety among God’s people about what the church will look like in the years to come.
If that is you today as you read this, look to Jesus’s actions in the Gospel of Mark for comfort. Notice how Christ doesn’t find a safer space to enter the scene. Notice how he doesn’t look for a more accepting place but instead goes to the place that just killed his cousin. Jesus busts in and begins preaching the news that is the coming kingdom of God. He doesn’t waver in the face of opposition. He doesn’t tone down his message or change his language. Instead, he speaks boldly God’s truth; “Repent and believe the Gospel.”
This is the posture the church must take in a world that is ever increasing in hostility toward its message. The church does not waver and must not seek out a safer space to do its work. In fact, there is no such thing as a “safe space” for the Christian. The church cannot afford to wane away in the face of the culture, or compromise God’s truth for a cushier landing. The church proclaims what seems controversial or offensive to the world, but it is about bringing lasting safety and peace. The call of Christ is to enter His joy and the safety of God’s church, which is what enables us to be bold in how we love and serve our neighbor. We are trying to give the world the only safe space that truly exists, Christ and his church. So, the church presses onward, because one thing that is certain is the kingdom of God is at hand. It began with Christ busting into the scene and it continues with every breathe used to proclaim the same message that left His holy lips.
So, dear Christian, do not be troubled. Instead look to Christ who has paved the way for His church to continue in his work. It is not the time to hunker down until the storm blows over, but instead it is time to continue to march forward with confidence proclaiming the same message that Christ came proclaiming. The world needs the church more than ever, whether they know it or not. So, dear Christian, take heart. Press on. Do not waver. The world needs to hear you say, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” For in this, there is true safety.