“Take a Stand!”
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV)
The current American culture impacts more than just the people who live in the United States. Our influence on the entire developed world is significant. Those with access to TV, radio, music, the Internet, and social media often naively believe what they see, hear, and read about American values, trends, and politics.
What many often don’t recognize is the power of one person to make a difference in the direction of the cultural cascade. Below are just a few historical individuals who chose to “go against the flow”.
Noah: The Bible tells us in Genesis in the time of Noah, the world had become filled with evil, violence, and corruption. Noah was the only follower of God on the planet.
“During Noah’s time, the wickedness of man had covered the earth like a flood. As a result, God commanded a flood of his own, a literal one, in which all the people on Earth would perish. Only Noah and his family would be spared, for it was God’s intention for them to restart humanity. To prepare for the upcoming apocalypse, the Lord instructed Noah to build an ark in which he, his family, and two of each animal on earth would be sheltered during the storm. Noah diligently accepted God’s call, and never wavered from it.” (learnreligions.com*)
Jesus: The Israelites in his day had become “rule followers” rather than God followers. The religious leaders had power and prestige, demanding total submissiveness on the part of their congregations. Jesus stepped into a society that was far from what God intended for mankind. He accepted those who were marginalized or shunned, performed miracles to catch the attention of the masses and show God’s power, offered salvation to all, and stood against the Roman rule, as well as that of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He was initially followed only by his 12 disciples, who recognized that this man was indeed speaking Truth.
William Tyndale: When Tyndale began his work of translating the Bible into the common language, the English Reformation was well underway. “With the Church of England in turmoil and firmly opposed to this bold new movement, Tyndale realized he could not successfully pursue his goal in England. So, in 1524 Tyndale went to Hamburg, Germany, where Martin Luther’s reforms were changing the shape of Christianity there. The first printing of William Tyndale’s English New Testament was completed in 1526 in Worms, Germany. From there the small ‘octavo editions’ were smuggled into England by hiding them in merchandise, barrels, bales of cotton, and sacks of flour. Henry VIII opposed the translation and church officials condemned it. Thousands of copies were confiscated by authorities and publicly burned. But opposition only proved to fuel the momentum, and the demand for more Bibles in England increased at an alarming rate.
In May of 1535, Tyndale was betrayed by a close friend, Henry Phillips. He was arrested by the king’s officials and imprisoned in Vilvorde, near modern-day Brussels. There he was tried and convicted of heresy and treason. On October 6, 1536, after nearly 17 months in prison, he was strangled and then burned at the stake. As he died, Tyndale prayed, ‘Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.’
Three years later, Tyndale’s prayer was answered when King Henry VIII sanctioned the printing of an authorized version of an English Bible, the Great Bible.” (learnreligions.com*)
Eric Liddell: “In 1924, Eric Liddell was given the honor of running for the 100 meters in the Olympics, but when found out it was scheduled for Sunday, he refused to run believing Sunday to be the Lord’s Day and a day of rest. Scotland criticized him for this decision, calling him a traitor. He was put into the 400-meter race which happened later that week. He won the race and broke the world record at the time in 47.6 seconds despite the fact he was not expected to win it.” (missionsbox.org)
Richard Wurmbrand: “Also known as Nicolai Ionescu (March 24, 1909 – February 17, 2001), Richard was a Romanian Evangelical Lutheran priest and professor of Jewish descent. In 1948, having become a Christian ten years before, he publicly said Communism and Christianity were incompatible. Wurmbrand preached at bomb shelters and rescued Jews during World War II. As a result, he experienced imprisonment and torture by the then Communist régime of Romania, which maintained a policy of state atheism. After serving a total of fourteen years, he was ransomed for $10,000. His colleagues in Romania urged him to leave the country and work for religious freedom from a location less personally dangerous. After spending time in Norway and England, he and his wife Sabina, who had also been imprisoned, emigrated to America and dedicated the rest of their lives to publicizing and helping Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. He wrote more than 18 books, the most widely known being Tortured for Christ. (wikipedia.org*)
Jack Phillips: It all started “in 2012, when Jack told 2 men who walked into Masterpiece Cakeshop that he couldn’t create a custom cake for their same-sex wedding… Phillips had to defend himself first before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and then numerous courts – losing every step of the way until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in June 2018… for Jack Phillips, there are deeper principles at stake – principles too precious to abandon for the sake of convenience and safety.” (The Cost of My Faith, by Jack Phillips, jacket cover)
There are, of course, many others who have changed the course of history by standing firm, defying the beliefs and laws of their day because of their desire to “do the right thing”.
So how can we help teens become media-savvy about the culture that surrounds them?
Spend time with teens offering historical and biblical frameworks for thinking about the effectiveness of an individual who stands for what’s right. Below are some suggestions for discussion and activities.
• Read a biography together of someone who took a stand against public opinion and made a difference for the good of others.
• Introduce one famous person each week by sharing a brief biographical overview. Discuss the ramifications of their actions.
• Ask them if any teens they know at school or in their acquaintance have countered popular trends or perhaps rules at school or at another organization, such as a sports team. Discuss these positions and whether they were justified.
• There is a set of short animated Christian biographies, created by Voice of the Martyrs, entitled “Torchlighters”, that support the concept of “going against the flow” for righteous reasons. These are excellent discussion starters. (Check these out at torchlighters.org)
• Share current examples of people who have noble and passionate reasons for objecting to what is happening in government, society, or entertainment. Discuss their points of view and the consequences.
Note: Share this blog with your church’s youth pastor as a possible lesson for youth group gatherings.
[*The author does not necessarily endorse all the viewpoints of the websites: learnreligions.com and wikipedia.org.]
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Sue Summers is a Christian media analyst, teacher, author, and speaker. She is the Director of Media Alert!
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