Culture

Would Jesus Bake a Gay Couple a Cake? Or Two?

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You might think, when you become a baker, that you’re pretty safe from controversy.

But, in response to Mississippi’s Religious Freedom bill, suddenly bakers are being interviewed about hot topics on NPR.

Because, as the NPR report puts it, Mississippi “Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill into law that allows religious organizations, individuals and businesses to refuse their services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people if they feel offering such services violates their religious beliefs.”

The Power Problem

It seems to me this has a lot to do with who has the power here. We can never really figure out if we, as Christians, are an oppressed minority or the voice of the majority. If you’re an atheist in a room full of praying people or it seems everyone around you celebrates Christmas, it’s easy to think Christians represent the majority (and historically, in this country, they have).

But as popular culture changes, as prayer is not allowed in schools, as movies promote values different from our own, as laws are changed, it’s understandable that Christians can begin to feel like an oppressed minority. I can see a case for both sides and when both those outside of and inside of the Church feel like a minority, it’s hard to have a reasonable conversation.

When both sides feel like a minority, it’s hard to have a reasonable conversation of oppression. Click To Tweet

Jesus on Feeling Oppressed

Regardless of our position on that, Christians who are most in support of bills like this one in Mississippi are supportive because they believe they are oppressed. They believe they are being forced by their government to give up their rights, to do things they would not choose to dho. If that is the case, the words of Jesus to oppressed Christians come to mind:

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”

 

If Christians are becoming a minority in this country, it is from a long history of power. Certainly, there are places in the US where the Christian perspective is still the norm (very generally: rural and suburban areas and the midwest/bible belt states). But in urban centers and on the coasts, we are already in a post-Christian America. As pastors in post-Christian places, we don’t have the luxury to start arguments or defend our rights. In churches like mine, Christians have the opportunity to live out Paul’s question in 1 Corinthians 5:12:

“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”

There is still a way to humbly share our perspective but that hearing has to be earned. Regardless of whether or not we agree with everything we see in the culture around us, this is an opportunity to serve and love, despite our difference.

If, when we feel cornered, we behave like people who expect to have power—demanding our rights—we will miss an opportunity to be like Christ. We will have to make painful but purifying choices: right ideas vs right practice; the American value of personal rights vs the Christian value of setting aside our rights. Perhaps we are learning again what it means to not have all the power, something Christians across the world and the ages have always known. And when we do lose power, we will need to learn a new (to us) posture.

And start making more cakes.

Jesus on oppression: 'If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.' Click To Tweet

“I don’t think that there is such a thing as a deeply held religious belief that you should not serve people.”

Mitchell Moore, Christian baker from Mississippi, in an NPR interview

I don't think that there is such a thing as a religious belief that you shouldn't serve people. Click To Tweet
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16 responses to “Evangelism is…more than you thought.

  1. Geoff, thanks for the pushback.
    Just to clarify, that post is an excerpt from the 9Marks study guide on evangelism. I stated that at the top of the piece, but I should have blockquoted the whole thing just to make it more clear. In any event, obviously I do agree with the statements, but wanted to point out that strictly speaking the lines in that blog post would be better attributed to 9Marks and/or Mark Dever, so they are not direct quotes from me.
    Thanks again.

    1. Jared, thanks for the clarification. I read the comment at the beginning but I thought you were just riffing off the 9Marks content. I took the “from” as “thoughts inspired from reading…” rather than “quoted from.” Context is everything!

      But the emphasis on preaching (Mark 1:38) in your comments were your thoughts right? I kind of launched off that comment for my post.

      1. Yes, you are right, the words from my comments are my own. And again, I don’t disavow the material in the post either. Just wanted to give credit (or debit 🙂 where it’s due.

    1. Jon, yes, in a sense I would say that the goal is that people would be led to a saving faith in Jesus. But I would add that in some instance, they are not only “led” but actually “experience”, in that moment, part of the salvation of Jesus. I’m all for “moments” of salvation, but I’m also for the “momentum” of salvation, those cumulative moments of salvation that propel us forward.

      I’ve been evangelizing this man for several months, and he constanstly says “I love this God stuff.” He’s noticing that he is less angry (and his friends have notices also), he prays more and becomes reconciled to estranged friends (who call him out of the blue), he gets a new job and has peace. These are all moments of saving faith that are building momentum in his life. It’s awesome to be a part of!

      1. I like the phrase momentum of salvation, helps me to define what’s happening in the life of my cousin. He is a combat veteran, a gritty redneck and rough around the edges but genuine change is occurring!!! Momentum!!!

    2. I prefer to think of each of those experiences or acts (preaching, miracles, compassionate listening, prayer, advocacy, etc.) has more of an endgame of revealing the Kingdom to someone rather than that person being led to saving faith. Revealing the Kingdom (or loosening it to use the keys of the Kingdom language) is something for which I have responsibility. Someone being led to saving faith is completely out of my control. Does that distinction make any sense?

        1. Jon- thanks for the response. My comment was to me more than anyone else. Sometimes I measure the fruitfulness of my life and ministry by how I have “changed the world” or “changed the church,” and not as much by how I have been changed by the Gospel. The book “Evangelism after Christendom” by Bryan Stone has been helpful in letting me see Christian witness as an embodied end to itself. When Christ declares that we are witnesses, it is an identity statement which impacts the entirety of my life. Again, I hope that makes sense.

  2. To me, this sums Jesus’s mission statement and confirms you.
    Luk 4:18
    The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

    Luk 4:19
    To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

    1. Jennifer, Yes those are absolutely key passages. I didn’t turn to them because I was trying to say in the Gospel of Mark. But I think Luke is making explicit what is already there in Mark.

  3. I appreciate this post Geoff. I think what contributes to a narrowing of ‘evangelism’ is a lack of theological understanding of the person of Jesus Christ. If Christ is the incarnation of the divine logos, the Word become flesh, then we must understand God’s mission to encompass both the being and act(s) of the Son. While we readily conceptualize evangelism or the missio dei as the composite acts of Jesus and the kerygmatic church we don’t often embrace the ontological surplus that results in Christ’s very sentness. This is essential to his being, aka ‘Immanuel.’ It is Christ’s life (being and acts) that we as Christians come to share and participate in.

    So in some sense, Christ’s being is ‘evangelism,’ and so being ensconced in his very life, our lives are by extension ‘evangelism’ as well. This is part of our ‘glorious inheritance!’ We’d do well to have a deeper understanding of ‘evangelism’, one that requires a more robust theology than a couple sentences in Mark.

    1. Jesse, Thanks for jumping in. Yes I think you are right, and that is exactly how the Gospel of Mark begins (indeed, he basically invented the ‘gospel’ genre) but declaring “The beginning of the good news (gospel) about/of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” It is his entire life/being that is gospel.

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