We live in the throes of the cancel culture, where social media influencers and Twitter trolls seek to sideline or compromise the impact of an individual when his or her position on an issue runs against the prevailing wisdom of an everchanging society. Often, cross-cancellation occurs, where one group mutually dismisses the other. This back and forth continues to construct walls of division, hate, and an us-versus-them mentality that is becoming a cancer to the Christian mindset. Many believers fear the cancel culture. There has been a strong desire in recent years within evangelical, Bible-believing Christian thinkers to be taken seriously in the culture at-large. Many Christian leaders have desired a middle ground where they resist the fundamentalist impulse of retreating from culture while also fighting the temptation to give in completely to culture at the same time. The problem has been in recent days that the culture surrounding the church has lurched ever so decidedly into the secular and post-Christian reality we see today. Should we tear our clothes and sit in sackcloth and ashes? We certainly must mourn the state of sinful humanity, but we must not be surprised or fearful when the lost and dying world around us writes that dreadful word on our foreheads: cancelled. We simply need to remember, Jesus was cancelled, too. And…it is to the glory of the church that we suffer the same ignominy.
The Apostle John is clear that the world and even Jesus’ own people rejected Him, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own, did not receive Him.” (John 1:10-11) Jesus was rejected to the point that all Jerusalem cried out to Pontius Pilate, “Crucify Him!” We cancelled Jesus and chose to embrace the insurrectionist Barabbas instead. Yet, while Jesus was rejected by man, He remained precious to His Father in Heaven. While He was cancelled by everyone, the Father embraced Him.
Do not be deceived. When we are called to faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to deny ourselves, to turn away from the world, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 10:38). Salvation in Jesus does not deliver us from persecution, it guarantees that we will be persecuted. Our cancellation is assured. When the Twitterverse, or your friends, or your co-workers, or your community members, dismiss you as “one of those” … who take the Bible seriously, who seek to apply the truths of Scripture to your life, family, and church community, who authentically seek to glorify God in all things, consider it all joy! (James 1:2) Jesus concluded the Beatitudes in this way, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
In Matthew 10, Jesus sends out His disciples to evangelize and serve the lost sheep of Israel. While giving them the authority to work miracles in His name, He also assured them of what they were facing. He said, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore, be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.” (v. 16) He continued, “A disciple is not above his Master…If they have called the head of the house Beelzebub, how much more the members of His household!.” (v. 24, 25b) When Jesus was about to be crucified, he reiterated to His disciples and to us, “If the world hates you know that it has hated Me first. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19) Let’s not mince words. The bottom line, brother and sister, is that the world hates you, if you love Jesus. If you love Jesus, you are cancelled. Embrace that reality!
When the world cancels us because we are faithful to the word of God; when we are seen as irrelevant, out of step, obstinate, bigoted, and evil because we genuinely believe that what the Bible says is true and sufficient for our lives today, fear not! That is exactly how the world treated the prophets that came before us in the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament. Paul the Apostle was rejected many, many times, beaten, stoned within an inch of his life, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and suffered many other travails while bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. But he gladly said, “I count all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ…that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8, 10-11) In other words, Paul embraced the fact that he shared in the cancellation of Christ so that He might also share in the assurance of the resurrection!
Fear not and be not surprised at the cancel culture that surrounds us. It is simply indicative of the lostness of the world in which we live. While we live in the world we are not of the world. For we have been called out of darkness to walk in the light of Christ. We, believers, have all been cancelled by the world. We are rejected by others. But glory be to God, we have not been cancelled by Jesus. And that is what truly matters!
-This article is published in the 2/8/2022 edition of the Weakley County Press.
-The image in this blog entry is included courtesy of unsplash.com