A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford.
Why is it that so often these days I find myself holding a different opinion than what a TV drama is portraying? Or what a panel of experts is advocating? Or what a popular actor is promoting? I gladly affirm their right to their opinion, but they demand more of me. They want me to wholeheartedly agree that their position is absolutely right. And sometimes I get very tired of being made the villain in the culture wars. Case in point:
I was a sophomore at Wheaton Community High in the spring of 1942. The carnage at Pearl Harbor had happened just five months before, and no one knew if we would be able to win this war we hadn’t chosen. My social studies teacher that year was a genial, sophisticated young man, admired by the students for his easy-going attitude toward authority.
One day he spent the class hour extolling the marvelous virtues of communism and the vicious corruption of the evil American way of life. I was stunned by his venom, and my face must have revealed my disagreement. He said sternly, “Miss Rice, you know Jesus was a communist. He taught us to seize the wealth of the rich and give it to the poor. Admit it, Miss Rice; Jesus was a communist.” He waited, with folded arms, for my answer.
I knew he was wrong, but I had been taught to respect my teachers. I was intimidated by the guilty pleasure my fellowstudents seemed to be getting from my confusion. Finally I stuttered, “No, sir, Jesus told us to love each other and take care of others in need. He never said take money from somebody and give it to somebody else.”
The teacher smiled his contempt. “So you say, Miss Rice.” I felt I’d failed the Lord that day.
In 2004 the president of the class of ’44 announced our 60th class reunion. Walt and I decided to go. I filled out the questionnaire. “What is your greated accomplishment?” “Trusting Christ as my Savior.” “What do you regret about your years at Wheaton?” “Not representing Jesus well enough.”
The reunion banquet had some surprises. One man looked at my name tag, and said rather rudely, “I never heard of you.” I looked at his name tag and said, “Well, we’re even. I never heard of you either!”
The ’44 class president had been the “big man on campus,” played the saxophone in the dance band, and was the essence of sophistication. But that night at the banquet he told us he had come to know the Lord as his Savior and that his life had changed. I was comforted when someone said, about my answers to the questionaire, “But Libby, you did stand up for the Lord. We all knew how you felt.”
My point in this convoluted tale? To help you remember we need to defend the truth, even in this culture that is so hostile to good and truth. True, others label us “hateful” when we don’t embrace their position. But right is still right. Evil is still evil. Eternal truth is still truth, no matter the antagonism of unbelievers. Here’s how First Corinthians 15:58 tells us to respond:
Therefore, my dear brothers, (and sisters!)
Stand firm. Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that
Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
We must stand for truth, no matter the pressures against us. It doesn’t matter if we can’t see the outcome of our stand, because God has promised, “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”