Pastor Robert Jeffress addressed his congregation on Sunday morning about the week he has had since Tim Tebow cancelled his previously planned visit to the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Pastor Jeffress received a raucous applause as he took the stage. If you’ve been following this story, I recommend that you watch this entire video and listen to Jeffress’ remarks. He expresses his resolve to proclaim the truth of the Bible no matter the cost and to offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. He concludes:
The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Jew, a Baptist, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Hindu, a homosexual, an adulterer, a thief, or a cheat. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You can be forgiven of your sins if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior. That’s not a message of hate. It’s a message of hope.
Amen and amen.
Albert Mohler wrote a very helpful article for Christianity Today last week analyzing the significance of the Tebow imbroglio, and I would highlight one portion that relates to the video above. Mohler writes:
[Tebow’s] sudden announcement came after a whirlwind of controversy over his scheduled appearance at the Dallas church. Its senior minister, Robert Jeffress, is no stranger to public controversy. His sound bites are often incendiary, but his convictions—including the exclusivity of the gospel and the belief that homosexual behaviors are sinful—are clearly within the mainstream of American evangelicalism.
While many complained about Jeffress’s tone and stridency, the controversy quickly shifted to secular outrage that Tebow would agree to speak to a church known for such beliefs…
Writing at The Huffington Post, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush made it clear the controversy wasn’t just a matter of Jeffress’s tone, conceding, “while Dr. Jeffress has a tendency not to sugarcoat his feelings,” he is nonetheless voicing what evangelical Christians “have been saying for a long time.” The central scandal here is the belief that Jesus is the only Savior and that homosexual behavior is sin. In terms of the larger public debate, it is the issue of homosexuality that has predominated the larger public debate… at least for now.
Regardless of your feeling about Tebow’s decision, here’s the important thing that Christians need to pay attention to, and Dr. Mohler has put his finger on it. The “central scandal” is not how evangelicals speak about sexuality but what they are speaking. I still believe the Proverbial wisdom that how we speak matters to God and to our witness (Prov. 15:1-2). But evangelicals are fooling themselves if they think they can finesse their messaging so that the truth is no longer an offense. We have come to the point that no matter how nicely the biblical teaching on marriage is delivered, there are some who will not listen and who will write us off as morally retrograde bigots. We are being marginalized in American culture. And there’s just no way to avoid that at this point.
The bottom line for every Christian is this. We cannot escape the coming conflict. It is upon us. If we are going to be faithful to Christ, we have to be willing to take our lumps. This is not an esoteric philosophical controversy. Nor is it another irrelevant blogosphere dispute. Our faithfulness to Christ on this issue will cost us in real life social capital, in real life employment opportunities, and in a myriad other ways. The public space for Christian sexual morality is shrinking, and religious liberty will eventually be redefined to exclude us. There will be no hiding on this issue, and there will be a price to pay. Are you ready?
Hebrews 10:32-34 “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.”