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Pressure to Conform

In North American society, and particularly in Canada, Christians have come under increasing pressure to conform to mainstream social norms. Governments, courts, educational institutions, and the media have pushed Christians to change their positions and practices on variety of issues, including homosexuality, sexual morality, abortion, assisted suicide, the authority of the Bible, and their belief in the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

There is an interesting parallel in the Bible in 1 Kings 22. There the prophet Micaiah was called before two kings sitting on their royal thrones at the entrance to the city of Samaria. This newly erected capital city was built on a hill, dominated by an ivory palace gleaming in the sun. The kings were dressed in royal robes of gold and purple at the edge of a vast parade ground. They were surrounded by an array of courtiers, officials, and soldiers. In front of them were 400 prophets shouting, dancing, and performing. Also watching were a large crowd of spectators, mesmerized by the spectacle. Altogether, the scene portrayed the power of the royal governments.

Micaiah, a prophet of the Lord, was also summoned to stand before the kings. He was counselled ahead of time to “Let your word agree with theirs” (verse 13). In other words, he was advised to conform to the message being given by the combined forces of the kings, bureaucracies, and religious establishments.

But, even though he knew the kings could order him to be killed at any moment, Micaiah answered that he could speak “only what the Lord tells me” (verse 14). And then Micaiah explained the reason for his confidence: “I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left” (verse 19). Those who have seen the true God know that all of the powerful rulers and authorities of the earth are weak and insignificant in comparison to Him.

The prophet Isaiah said something similar (in Isaiah 40):

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
they are regarded as dust on the scales

Before him all the nations are as nothing

He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Those currently in power don’t understand this. They think that time is on their side and that the few backward traditionalists known as evangelical Christians will either fade away or be brought around to their way of thinking. In a sense, they think they are gods, that they have ultimate authority. But theirs is a short-term perspective, and they do not reckon on the possibility of a God who is greater than they are and who will ultimately have the last word.


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