In places where radical Islam is in control, we expect to read stories of hatred, and even oppression, against those who do not share their faith. It is an actual article of faith for radical Islamists to do that. We don’t necessarily expect that, though, from people in the West who tout values such as tolerance and peace. Yet when the definitions of tolerance and peace emerge from a naturalistic worldview, you can actually get the same kind of hatred and oppression.
Take a recent happening in England, for example. Next September (2018), Franklin Graham is scheduled to travel to Blackpool, England to speak at the Lancashire Festival of Hope, a Christian event about the hope that can be found in Jesus Christ. However, there is a movement that is gaining traction to actually ban Graham from even entering the United Kingdom. There has been a Change.org online petition put out that has already been signed by well over 6,000 people. The petition claims that Graham’s biblical beliefs about homosexuality and Islam promote prejudice and hatred, and it calls him a bigot. There are even a number of government officials, and even some Blackpool clergy, who are urging the government to refuse Graham a visa to enter the country.
Of course, the Muslim faction within the country are against Graham coming, as the Christian message he preaches asserts that Islam is a false religion. But interestingly, the greatest hue and cry against him is coming from the country’s Atheists. The Christian message, it seems, exposes the intolerance of their belief in “tolerance,” as well as shines a light on their support of immoral lifestyles. They simply can’t stand it. We will see what happens with this as the time draws closer to the event.
But if you think this kind of hatred of a Christian worldview is limited to a secularized Europe, think again. We are seeing this very same naturalistic worldview being expressed daily, even in America, as Christian values are increasingly attacked. They are being attacked in the media, in the entertainment industry, in the court system, in the workplace, and, in some places, even in state and local legislative bodies. The expressions of this can be observed as we watch the rule of law being overridden by activist judges, Christian symbols being systematically removed from the public square, and Christian values ridiculed in the media.
As Christians, it is important to stand up against these various attacks out in society. But in the long run, political and social activism will not solve the problem. The root of this opposition is spiritual, not political or social – and the ultimate solution will also have to be spiritual.
As we approach the holiday season with the message of peace from Christmas, and the hope that emerges from the beginning of a New Year, it is critical for us to recognize that outward peace emerges only from a pure heart devoted to God, and true hope only exists in relationship to God. If we want to be effective in expressing peace and hope in the world, we have to do it by sharing with people how they can know the Prince of Peace and the Author of Hope. As you move forward with your life through this holiday season, I want to encourage you to put your primary focus not on trying to change society, but on an effort to help people have a true change of heart. Outward peace and hope will naturally follow.