If you think the preacher is aiming the sermon at you, maybe you should check in with the Holy Spirit…
That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the lakeside, but such large crowds gathered round him that he got into a boat and sat there. The people all stood on the shore, and he told them many things in parables. He said, ‘Listen, a sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell on the edge of the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on patches of rock where they found little soil and sprang up at once, because there was no depth of earth; but as soon as the sun came up they were scorched and, not having any roots, they withered away. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Others fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Anyone who has ears should listen!’
… ‘So pay attention to the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the Evil One comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the seed sown on the edge of the path. The seed sown on patches of rock is someone who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But such a person has no root deep down and does not last; should some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, at once he falls away. The seed sown in thorns is someone who hears the word, but the worry of the world and the lure of riches choke the word and so it produces nothing. And the seed sown in rich soil is someone who hears the word and understands it; this is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’ (Matt. 13:1-9,18-23)
Jerry Falwell Jr. is still riding the Trump Train. This time he has turned to the op-ed pages of The Washington Post to make his case for the GOP nominee. The talking points are the same. Falwell Jr. chides Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party for their missteps, but he does not make a positive case for his candidate apart from the dubious historical analogy that Trump is the next Winston Churchill. He warns that if we don’t vote for Trump we will all suffer “dire consequences.”
I am not sure what Falwell Jr. thinks he is doing. Does he think that his endorsement of Donald Trump is going to help make Liberty University the world-class evangelical institution that he and his father, Jerry Falwell Sr., envisioned? I know, I know, he claims that his endorsement of Trump is personal and he is not making it on behalf of Liberty University. That’s all well and good on paper, but I doubt most Americans grasp the subtle distinction. In the past six months I have talked with three parents who said that their kids chose another school partially based on Falwell Jr.’s support of Trump. Two of them were the parents of high school seniors and the other one was the parent of a student who is transferring to another college this Fall. Three parents hardly make a movement. Perhaps these three parents are not representative of most Liberty parents. Or perhaps they are more representative of the kinds of evangelicals with whom I engage in political conversation. But all three of them were troubled by Falwell’s endorsement and the politicization of evangelical faith taking place on the Liberty campus.
When Jesus was unjustly executed, his disciples didn’t organize a protest culminating in vandalism. When Peter was jailed the disciples didn’t storm the jail and demand the jailer’s arrest, they prayed. When Paul was beheaded the Christians of Rome didn’t riot, burn, pillage, and blunder. Indeed, he had already instructed the Romans not to violate the law (Romans 13).
When Christians were persecuted (and some were) by the Romans the other Christians didn’t attack them.