Last week I was watching a documentary where a fairly well-known British actor visited Lebanon. As he walked down a city street dividing armed Sunni and Shia factions, he intimated to us (the viewers) that at that very moment he and his crew may very well have been in the sights of a sniper from one side or the other. It must be terrifying to consider that you might very well catch a piece of lead from a sniper’s rifle.
Here in Australia, Christians are in the sights of the enemy. We see more and more evidence of deliberate targeting of believers. Last week, The Australian broke the story of two Christian preachers from Hobart, in the south of Tasmania. Campbell Markham is the pastor of the Cornerstone Church, a congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Australia. David Gee is a member of the same church and he periodically does street preaching in Hobart. Markham and Gee have been named in a complaint to Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. Markham is alleged to have offended homosexuals with some things he wrote on his blog in 2011. The complaint against Gee cites statements he made while preaching at a speaker’s corner in the Central Business District of Hobart. These statements offended atheists and homosexuals, prompting the complaint. It is not clear whether both complaints originate from the same individual, though it appears that way.
It’s important to note something here. The Cornerstone Church is not the infamous Westboro Baptist Church with hatred as its creed. Rev. Markham is not a foaming-at-the-mouth fundamentalist, and neither is David Gee. These are simply men who believe what the Bible says about marriage and God’s design for the human race. As a Christian blogger and pastor, it could have been me in the sights of this complainant. In fact, for all I know, perhaps I am already in the sights of this activist.
That’s the first thing to take away from this. No faithful Christian pastor is immune. If you’re faithful, you will open your mouth and preach what the Bible proclaims without apology. That makes you a target. They’ll turn their sights on you eventually. Even if you’re not a pastor, all it takes is a little question from a boss, co-worker, teacher, or fellow-student. As soon as you mouth the words, “The Bible says,” the cross-hairs are on your cranium.
The second thing is: we must not let these snipers win. A sniper makes people take cover. Under threat of a sniper, no one wants to be out in the open. Snipers make the fearful hide. However, we cannot let fear dictate our ministries. We need the proper perspective to gain courage. We are at war, but not with human beings who disagree with us and want us silenced. We’re at war with principalities and powers in rebellion against God. This war was already decided at the cross. These skirmishes are like the Allies sweeping through the Netherlands long after D-Day. The Second World War was decided on June 6, 1944. But it wasn’t until 1945 that victory was fully realized. That’s our situation. We’re on the winning side — the gospel will move forward. We ought not to be afraid, nor should leaders in this battle run for cover. We need to remind ourselves: there may be a sniper’s sight on me, but my Commander has my back and victory is in his grasp.