I was stunned by a Walmart Smiley image pictured with a store executive. The look on Smiley’s face is that of wrath. I wondered what had the nicely groomed suit-laden Walmart executive done to merit such beat down from our beloved Smiley. The title of the article validates Smiley’s indignation and the reason the executive should update his resume post haste.
“Walmart Puts Christian Employees on ‘Watch List’”
As one who is no stranger to corporate discrimination, this headline caught my eye. However, after reading the article, published by the American Family Association, I thought, “Wow! These are extremely serious charges.”
I rarely type anything in the comments section of a web article, but this time I couldn’t resist. I kindly requested AFA to provide source material, whether internal to Walmart or anything that could help readers have confidence the writer did his homework—AFA deleted my appeal even before it was posted.
As a result of AFA’s assertions, social media sites were ablaze with people whipped-up into a Walmart boycott frenzy. Why? The writer didn’t prove his case. What’s even more disturbing is that AFA pulled the article from their website without explanation, but glimpses of it are found HERE.
I struggle to reconcile AFA’s battlefield attack against Walmart with the Apostle Paul’s zealous response to Jesus’ choice of him to bear His name before people dead in their transgressions and sins (Acts 9:15; Ephesians 2:1).
Learning from the Apostle Paul’s Compassionate Zeal for Gays
During his third missionary journey Paul writes his letter to the Romans informing them about how he unceasingly prays for them. He desperately wants to encourage these men and women (Romans 1:11–12). He tells the Romans that he has been “prevented so far” from coming to their city (Romans 1:13). Paul’s enthusiasm for these precious people is reminiscent of his longing to share the gospel in Asia and Bithynia only to find out that the Holy Spirit prevented him from going there too (Acts 16:6–7).
Paul is bent on getting to Rome because he loves the people, both the saints and those who high-handedly reject Jesus Christ. We read in Romans 1:15–17: “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’…”
Why is Paul so Compassionate for the Lost?
Out of Paul’s yearning to present the gospel to people in the very act of rejecting God, he expounds on the reason for his desperation. He describes the people he longs to lead to Christ, not as “bigots,” but as those facing God’s wrath for their utter disregard for His offer of salvation through His son Jesus Christ.
In Romans 1:18–32 Paul paints a descriptive word picture of the people for whom he is so bent on visiting:
Again, Paul prays for God to allow him to proclaim the gospel of grace to people who do not honor the Lord, identifying them as “truth suppressors” (Romans 1:18). He describes them saying, “They became futile in their speculations” (Romans 1:21) which literally means that their ability to reason properly has become pointless. As a result, their “foolish heart was darkened,” a word picture indicating the light in their minds was effectively turned off so they couldn’t reason properly.
He describes the people as worshiping the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:23, 25). Foolishness is believing that birds, animals and crawling creatures are more important than God who created them. Paul declares that these men and women abandoned their natural sexual functions and committed indecent acts (Romans 1:27). The result of their reasoning is that God gives them over to the lusts of their hearts and depraved minds, (literally, “worthless minds”) which can no longer distinguish the difference between right and wrong, good and evil (Romans 1:24, 28).
Understanding of the Human Heart from God’s Perspective
The Psalmist says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; There is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1). God’s Word says that people are corrupt (Genesis 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10–18) and that those who have not yet embraced Christ are simply not able to assimilate what is important to God because “The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” literally, in Greek, “perishing themselves” (1 Corinthians 1:18 also John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9).
Jesus identifies unbelievers as lovers of darkness and as evil doers who hate Him (John 3:19–20). Scripture identifies the unrepentant as slaves to sin (Romans 1:17, 20) and enemies of God who are continually passionate about wickedness (Genesis 6:5; Ecclesiastes 9:3; John 3:19–20; Romans 5:10, 8:7–8; Colossians 1:21).
The Reason for Paul’s Compassion
“God’s Plan for the Gay Agenda” is the reason Paul is obligated to preach the gospel to them (Romans 1:14–15). He declares that “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Rather than rally Christians to boycott their businesses, he agonizes over the fact that he can’t be with them to proclaim repentance and forgiveness. Paul knows that if someone doesn’t tell the Romans that they are on the verge of “perishing themselves” and that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, they are heading for the final act of God’s wrath—a Christ-less eternity (Revelation 20:11–15; John 5:29; Matthew 25:31–46).
God answers Paul’s prayers: He’s going to Rome!
Paul had been brutally tortured and arrested many times (2 Corinthians 11:23–33), but his prayers to get to Rome to spread the Gospel of eternal life were finally answered (Acts 19:21, Acts 23:11; Acts 27:24). His love for the Roman people was a high price to pay (Acts 9:16). However, he was on his way to those in Rome who rejected God in favor of their “futile speculations” (Romans 1:21).
Because a “truth suppressor” (Romans 1:18) is “depraved,” he is incapable of coming to Christ “unless it has been granted to him from the Father” (John 6:65; John 6:44; John 6:37). Their sin snowballs and leads to catastrophic results. Why? Because, as Jesus says, “they loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
These are those to whom Paul begs to see. Alas, the Lord emboldens Paul saying, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also” (Acts 23:11). A few years later Paul acknowledged that there were Christians in Rome. He made careful recognition of the fact that there were saints even in Caesar’s (Nero’s) own household (Philippians 4:22). Shortly thereafter, Nero ordered Paul’s execution, but his selfless love was a small price to pay for reaching men and women in Rome who formerly rejected the Lord (Ephesians 2:1–10) but now are spending eternal life with Christ Jesus.
Jesus’ Last Command Must be Our Greatest Concern
Paul is clear that “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Terrorists will behead us, Christians like Kelvin Cochran, former Fire Chief of Atlanta, will be fired, pizza makers will be driven out of business, Christian clubs will be banned from universities, and we, like Paul will continue to appeal to our nation’s laws to protect us (Acts 22:25), but in the end, no matter the danger, cost or consequence, Jesus’s last command remains our greatest concern (Matthew 28:18–20).