“Thank you for being so brave.”
That’s what a lady told me as soon as I finished my sermon. It was a sermon against abortion.
I was flattered. I’ve been called a lot of things but brave isn’t at the top of the list. I’ve never fought in a war or pulled someone from a burning car. One day in college I skipped Biology to give my friends Jeff and Derrick a ride to work. That’s about as far as my bravery goes.
By the time I drove home from preaching that sermon I stopped feeling flattered about being called brave. Nothing against what that lady told me. It’s just that there was nothing brave about what I just did.
I didn’t preach my anti-abortion sermon at the Planned Parenthood weekend retreat. I preached it in front of 50 people at a rural Southern Baptist church. In the truest sense of the phrase, I was preaching to the choir. That usually doesn’t involve bravery.
Since coming out as a homosexual, future NFL draftee Michael Sam has been called brave.
Every day since his announcement, ESPN has reminded us of how brave he is.
On Monday the sports media giant released a poll revealing that 86 percent of NFL players have no problem with Sam’s homosexuality.
Sports talk radio hosts in the Atlanta market have gone out of their way to express their desire that the Falcons draft Michael Sam.
Before his announcement, Sam was projected to be drafted in the middle to late rounds. At this rate, he may be the first player selected in the entire draft and then imediately inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
More and more, the world is becoming okay with gay, as evidenced by the gay wedding at the Grammy’s, gay characters on Disney sitcoms and sports broadcasters falling all over themselves to remind us of how brave Michael Sam is.
Which brings me to my initial analogy. What’s so brave about preaching to the choir? Is there really anything brave about going public with your homosexuality in a culture that will seemingly stop at nothing to make sure that we’re all on the gay bandwagon?
Here’s what’s really brave.
Imagine an elite quarterback from an SEC school who is projected to be picked high in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft saying something like this on ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
“I want the world to know that I love Michael Sam. If he was on my team, I would do everything within my power to be his friend. But I strongly disagree with his lifestyle. My opinion is not shaped by hate, bigotry or cultural trends. It’s just that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I view the world through the lens of Scripture and Scripture says that homosexuality is a sin. But it also tells me to love Michael Sam the way Jesus would. That’s just what I plan on doing.”
Are you imagining?
I’ll help with a few imaginary headlines.
Star Quarterback Throws Touchdowns… And Hate
From Certain First Rounder to the Arena League: One Man’s Journey
Toothless Redneck Hate Monger Completes 60-Day Jail Term for Insensitive Remarks
Bravery, in its truest sense, is more than just a title we give to someone. It’s a word used to characterize a lifestyle where what is right will not give in to what is popular, regardless of how good popular feels.
It means standing up when everyone else bows (Daniel 3) and bowing when everyone else walks away, hands in pockets (Daniel 6).
For Christians in today’s culture, the choir we preach to seems to be getting smaller. There are more and more people who would characterize certain portions of the Christian gospel, if not all of it, as hate speech. But no matter how small the choir gets or how thick the opposition grows, we must continue to speak the truth in love.
We must be brave.