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Cross of Jesus
Are you leaning on the blood-stained cross of Jesus? (Shutterstock)

I recently read an article that was disturbing beyond belief to me as a Christian, a pastor and an American.

The Conservative Baptist Association of America is suing the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs after two chaplains were openly ridiculed by the leader of the San Diego-based VA-DOD Clinical Pastoral Education Center program. This program is designed specifically for chaplains who want to be able to minister to soldiers and veterans in VA hospitals. Among other things, the lawsuit filed alleges the following:

  • The instructor told the chaplains it was the policy of the VA in general (and her in particular) that chaplains should not pray in the name of Jesus.
  • In October 2012, the instructor told the class she believes God could be either man or woman. When Chaplain No. 1 referred to the Lord’s Prayer, the instructor “angrily pounded her fist on the table and shouted, ‘Do not quote Scripture in this class.’”
  • In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, Chaplain No. 2 mentioned during a group discussion on counseling that he would tell a parent that “there is evil in the world.” The instructor retorted, “You don’t actually believe that, do you?”
  • In January 2013, the instructor told the chaplains, “There is no room in the program for those who believe they are right and everybody else is wrong.”

As Christians, we have a Bible that is our source of strength, wisdom and instruction. As Americans, we have a Constitution that guarantees the inalienable rights of its citizens to believe, worship and speak, as is stated:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

According to this amendment (the first amendment contained in the Bill of Rights), we as Americans are guaranteed the right to free speech—speech that, right or wrong, may offend some. We are guaranteed that government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. If our “religion” states that Jesus is Lord, it is our right not only to believe such, but to speak it as well.

But more than that, we as Christians are held to a higher standard than even the Constitution. We stand on the living, inerrant Word of the God of the universe—the Bible. If we are who we claim to be and believe what we claim to believe, then our mandate and responsibility are crystal clear:

1. We must believe. Jesus is either exactly who He said He was, or we all just need to sell our churches and go home. He is either the Lord of the universe or He was a lunatic. Some religions claim He was a good man, a great teacher or a prophet. Sorry—not possible. If He was not exactly who He claimed to be, then He was a liar who has led billions of people astray. That would not be someone that anyone in their right mind would consider to be a “good man.”

2. We must receive. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV).

Jesus didn’t say, “I am a way.” He said, “I am the way.” The idea that all paths lead to God may play well on talk shows, on reality television and in group therapy sessions, but the problem is that it just is not the truth. There is one way to God—through the door marked by the blood-stained cross of Jesus. The cornerstone of our faith is that belief.

3. We must tell the world. One of the last recorded things Jesus said on this earth was what we now refer to as the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).

We know from Scripture not everyone will welcome the Good News of Jesus. As Paul told the Corinthians, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor. 1:22-23, NIV).

We live in a society that has sacrificed conviction for convenience, belief for bogus arguments, and freedom for the cold, bland bowl of lies, served up by “The First Church of Me.” However, we are called to be—and must remain—a light in the world. Make no mistake about it—what looks like a fight with radical forces within our government is really a battle being waged on a much greater battlefield. There is a war in the heavenlies being fought for humanity. And at the end of the day, when all of the arguments have been made, we must do as Paul told the Ephesians: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand" (Eph. 6:13, emphasis added).

When all is said and done, heaven and earth will pass, but the words of Jesus will remain forever. So take heart, believer! After all, among His life-giving words are these: “I have overcome the world.”

Ron Phillips is senior pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tenn. His weekly television and daily radio programs are broadcast worldwide and available on the Internet. He is a sought-after speaker and the author of numerous books, including the four-part Foundations on the Holy Spirit, Our Invisible Allies and his latest, A God-Sized Future.

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