Caulfield Evangelical Methodist Church
- Weekly Pastoral Message -

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"Continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" Acts 2:42

Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 29th November 1998

From the Pastor: Beatitudes and PC IX

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 5:10

"Tolerance" is one of the great catch-words of our modern, late twentieth century world. We hear it preached from every talkback show, from the political hustings and from the educational institutions. "Political correctness" (PC) prides itself on its all-inclusive tolerance, and in so doing compares itself very favourably with the alleged intolerances of the past, whether the Inquisition, religious wars or denominational bigotry. What is believed to be its opposite, namely "dogmatism", meets with censure everywhere: statements of the "Thus says the Lord" variety, whether in theology, morality or philosophy are cried down as "bigoted" and "intolerant", and thus not to be tolerated(!). The strong conviction is that there is no room for anyone with strong convictions, especially the one that maintains that Christ is the only way of salvation (John 14:6). Thus you may believe Christianity if you like, but mind you keep it to yourself!

What is overlooked in this scenario is that this is what prevails in some very intolerant countries, especially Islamic ones. There one may be a Christian, but one must keep it private, and refrain from any form of evangelism. The lot of Christians in countries like Sudan, where they have been nailed to crosses in mockery of Christ and then left to die, or Indonesia, where church buildings and homes are regularly burned by Muslim fanatics, or Iran, where Christians are in constant danger of prison in an extremist Islamic state, is grim indeed. We have not reached that extreme in "enlightened" Western democracies, but there are ominous warning signs, ironically in the whole concept of "tolerance" now prevailing. The history of our hard-won religious freedoms is not known, nor is their basis in Biblical conception at all understood (cf. Luke 1:74,75).

The pressure is on! Not only in certain other countries is there persecution, but here on our doorstep. The challenge is to explain patiently the Christian position, to bless those who revile you (Matthew 5:44) and rejoice that we are accounted worthy to suffer shame from the world (Acts 5:41). To those who are reviled the promise is sure: you are blessed from Heaven, even if not from men.

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Caulfield Evangelical Methodist Church
Please email comments to: cemc@genesis.net.au
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