Much of the buzz in the news this week had to do with Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley’s speech on Monday in which he stated the following: “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.” He said this in front of a church audience, but it nevertheless caused an enormous amount of controversy.
In today’s pluralistic society, what Gov. Bentley said is considered anathema. And yet what he said is nothing new or necessarily controversial. He was simply affirming a biblical ecclesiology. Discussing the nature of the church as a unique family set apart from the rest of the world is apparently seen as bigotry by today’s culture. To deny the popular notion of a universal brotherhood of mankind is to buck an ongoing trend of universalism.
Promoting universalism is certainly nothing new, but a particularly sharp universalism has developed in recent years and brought with it a cultural sensitivity. Where do we as Christians fall into this? The Gospel message of being saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone certainly grates against this popular sentiment. Indeed, the dogma of equality trumps all else in modern American society.
The truly sad part is the fact that Gov. Bentley felt compelled to apologize for his statements. In that respect he’s definitely a typical politician. But is that what a Christian ought to do? The Gospel is always going to be offensive to the world. That the world will hate us for preaching Christ and Him crucified shouldn’t be a surprise to us. By shrinking back, taking the easy road, and apologizing for our witness, we are turning our backs upon our Savior.
Some Christians want to “take back the culture” in the name of the church. Others want to live comfortably within the culture. Neither is a biblical approach. We need to remember that we are strangers in this world, sojourners in a foreign land. Rather than surrendering to the cultural pressures of “equality” and “unity,” the individual Christian must recognize that he stands out. This is what it means to be salt and light.