Earlier this week (Wednesday) was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. If you ventured over to this local fast food chain restaurant you were not alone. Long lines and happy customers greeted fellow customers all day. At the church office yesterday we received regular reports throughout the day from church members who had eaten there (or at least tried to). They shared, one after another, about their joy over the large numbers seeking to gain entrance to the restaurant. I received my last report by phone from a church member at 9:15pm Wednesday evening who finally gave up trying to get in because of the crowd. I could be wrong but I think it points to the idea that this show of support for Chick-fil-A is going to extend for more than a day. If I were from the Far East I would be tempted to call this "The Year of the Chicken".
I mentioned in my sermon this past Sunday that my new favorite place to eat is Chick-fil-A. I really don't think my "Tip of the Day" is what started this run on Chick-fil-A. Neither do I think it was caused by the restaurant's catchy slogan "Eat more Chicken." This is not about chicken; it about the right of religious expression by a Christian.
Let's remember how this all began-A few days ago Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy voiced support for traditional marriage in a Baptist publication (SBC newspaper). Is it now controversial for us as Christians to affirm our own religious values in our own publications, churches, and conferences? Are we still allowed as Christians in America to voice support for Biblical teaching in religious venues and religious services? Evidently, some do not think so! The Mayors of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco publicly stated that Chick-fil-A is not welcome in those cities. The three Mayors (I simply refer to them here as Larry, Curly and Moe) stated the reason is because their respective cities don't share the same values as Chick-fil-A. They even threatened to use legal measures to block the restaurant's opportunity to open in their cities. Far left opinion writers and news reporters immediately showed support for the Mayors and condemned the family-owned Chick-fil-A President for his position. This is how it all began-but this is not where it is going to end.
Fox News radio host, Todd Starnes, is right when he says, "Pay attention, people of faith. Dark clouds are gathering. The winds of intolerance are blowing. There's a great storm approaching. The days of persecution are upon us."
Pastor Charles Lyons of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago has received no small amount of media attention, and rightfully so, for some sharp words he directed at his Mayor, Rahm Emanuel (Curly) this past Sunday. The Pastor said in his sermon: "'Chick-fil-A's values are not Chicago's values.' Emanuel said. His remarks left many wondering if Christians were welcome in the Windy City...Mr. Mayor, do not dismiss us. Do not disrespect us. We, too, are Logan Square. We too, are Chicago...If the thought police come to Armitage Baptist Church, we will meet them at the door, respectfully, unflinchingly, willing to die on this hill holding a copy of the sacred Scriptures in one hand and a copy of the U.S Constitution in the other." Amen and Amen!
The Pastor is right! The Mayor is wrong-dead wrong! Now there is something we need to learn: We are living in unprecedented times which call for unparalleled wisdom and unwavering determination by people of faith. Pray that we will practice discernment as did "the men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (1 Chronicles 12:32). Pray, as well, that we will have the courage of Daniel who refused to abandon his faith, compromise his convictions or violate his own conscience. May God give us that kind of wisdom and courage!
Devotedly your Pastor,
P.S. Eat More Chicken!