Earlier this week Professor Carl Trueman of Westminster Theological Seminary posted another essay to verify the Christian church is quickly losing its privileged status in American culture.

The essay relates two stories.

The first is the story of Chad Vegas. Mr. Vegas is a widely respected school board member in the Bakersfield, CA public school district. Vegas has found that the convergence of state law, transgender social engineering, and identity politics has forced him outside the circle of public legitimacy. His biblically-shaped conscience forbids him to advocate and enforce new state laws which require gender neutral speech and practice in California public schools. To remain resolute and on the school board would invite significant legal action against himself. He has chosen to remain resolute off the school board.


In a letter to his church family, Vegas said:

"It is now law in CA that your children must be taught how to have safe homosexual sex, how to obtain an abortion, and that gender does not correspond to biological sex. Think of that! It is legally required to teach your children the LGBTQ sexual mores while simultaneously illegal to mention God. I can't and won't enforce that foolishness."

 
The second story Trueman relates is that of his own son. A few years back his son was running track for an Ivy League university. During that time another member of the team came out as a lesbian. Quickly brewing among the rest of the team was eagerness to show some expression of solidarity with the lesbian student. It was decided: everyone on the team would wear a rainbow armband. After discussing with his father how to best explain his minority position to teammates, Trueman's son made it known he would not wear the rainbow.  The results were predictable: "Sure enough, he was decried as a bigot and homophobe."
 
Some people think Carl Trueman tells these stories because he is weeping and gnashing his teeth that America is no longer friendly to orthodox Christianity. I find this criticism in the comments thread in this most recent article and in several others he has written in recent months.  Those leveling the criticism generally charge Trueman for making the theological error of thinking the state owes the Christian church "most-favored-institution" status. If this is what Trueman believed, I would join the critics for such thinking is indeed an error. But Trueman knows better and has written how the church should never have sought her legitimacy in the state. The gospel does not need the state to validate it before it becomes powerful to save.
 
Why then does Trueman write about these things? 
 
As he said before, his project is to call the church to faithfulness and faithfulness involves preparedness. He is not raging against the worldliness of the world. Nor is he trying to mobilize a new generation of cultural warriors who rise up to once again try to get the state to legitimize the gospel and the churches who confess it. No. Trueman's project is to say to Christians, in effect: "Are you ready to bear the humiliation of Jesus Christ in a society increasingly opposed to Christ's kingdom, law and righteousness? Are you prepared to live like a Christian here in America as devout Christians in Japan live? They have little to no legitimacy from the stateand both high-brow and low-brow worldliness permeates their country.
 
The easiest way to be unprepared is to think nothing is changing and there is no personal cost to be paid to follow Christ in America. 
 
But let us understand, being prepared goes far beyond acknowledging the change and the costs. Look at these two scriptures and try to identify the one word in each which most clearly shows preparedness (hint: the words are practically identical).
 

"But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one." Hebrews 10:32-34

 

"When they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus." Acts 5:40-42

 
The words are "joyfully" and "rejoicing." These two words - along with the courage detailed - reveal true preparedness to live faithfully in a country foreign and far from your heavenly one. Why "joyfully" and "rejoicing"? Because no one can fabricate or feign joy in the midst of persecution and loss. Joy in the midst of significant earthly losses comes from abiding in Christ by faith, seeing and counting his eternal worth in the midst of earthly loss. 
 
So-called "conservative cultural warriors" can not find such joy in loss because they are desperately trying not to lose. Defeated and embittered cultural warriors can not find such joy because they think they have already lost what is most valuable. So called "liberal cultural warriors" can not find such heavenly joy because they think they are winning what is most valuable by earthly gains. 
 
Joy in cultural loss, property loss, status loss is the sole-propriety of the Christian pilgrim. Why? Because only the Christian has such a vital union with Jesus Christ that every real loss pulls back the veil, as it were, exposing a more greater gain - the eternal Son who shall soon appear. In this way, justified Christian pilgrims become the most helpful cultural guests. 
 
Are you prepared for faithfulness? 
 
Are you counting the costs of following the Lord Jesus? 
 
Are you already joyfully paying the personal costs of following him through a devotion to his worship, his word and his people that you will not let be diverted by the cultural expectations of affluent modern life?