Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
We no longer live in a culture that is heavily influenced by Christian values and mores. Many in the culture are becoming antagonistic to Christians.
This is not the first time Christians have experienced trials and persecution. To be sure, there are variations of persecutions, and there is a spectrum. What Christians in the west experience today is persecution, but it is nothing to what Christians in other countries face: martyrdom – death because they are Christians. Even though the history of the Christian church is littered with reminders of persecution, it is new to those Christians living now. There has been a significant shift culturally in the past 25 years.
But this is the climate in which the early Christians lived and in which the proclamation of the gospel spread, resulting in the transformation of lives. This is not a time to bemoan what is, or to expect what is not. Rather, it is to live in peace as we trust in and rest upon the Lord Jesus Christ as he has overcome the world, and it is to have hope in the midst of the tribulation. I think of Jesus’ words: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).
I include links to a few conferences held recently that address this important topic.
The first one I mention is the EFCA Theology Conference 2014 on the theme, Christian Faithfulness in a Changing Culture. This was an attempt to frame the issues related to our changing culture, and how we seek to live faithfully as Christians and as the church of Jesus Christ in this changing culture. Even though this conference was held in 2014, there has been much that has changed culturally since that time.
The third one is the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors 2016, just recently completed: Joy Set Before Us: Perseverance and Hope in the Day of Opposition The topics included the following:
I commend these helpful resources to you as an aid, to borrow the title of our Theology Conference, to live faithfully by the enabling and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God.