The furor over the selection of Pastor Rick Warren to pray at the presidential inauguration continues unabated, and if anything, has intensified. Attacks on Warren are now coming from multiple directions—not just gay rights activists from California or Massachusetts, but a broader coalition of socio-political leftists.
Even more interestingly, the attacks and calls to rescind the invitation are no longer just about his active opposition to gay marriage. More and more, Warren is being slammed for his basic articulation of the Christian gospel (specifically, the exclusive nature of salvation in Christ) and belief in core doctrinal issues (like the return of Christ). For a taste of the vitriol, check out atheist Christopher Hitchens’ recent essays in Slate, here and here.
Now, no matter what you think about Warren’s purpose-driven approach to faith, life and the church, this much is clear: at this point, Rick Warren is the public face and voice of evangelical Christianity. He is the focus of intense persecution, public vilification and more simply for articulating what many of us also believe about Jesus, salvation and biblical morality. He may also be pioneering the way that the rest of us will soon follow.
At this moment, Rick Warren uniquely stands for all of us who follow Christ. He is my brother in Christ (Eph. 2:19), a part of Christ’s body with me (1 Cor.12:12). And he needs our supporting prayer, asking the Father to strengthen and help our brother in this test.
What do I pray for Rick Warren? How about…
+ “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’. For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler….For He will command His angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. ‘Because he holds fast to Me in love, I will deliver him. I will protect him, because he knows My name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:1-4, 11, 14-15)
+ “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all sorts of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets before you.” (Matt.5:10-12)
+ “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves…when they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for you are to say what will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you…. “ (Matt.10:16, 19-20)
+ “So have no fear of them….do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matt.10:26, 28-31)
+ “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might….for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm….Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.” (Eph.6:10, 12-13, 18-19)
+ ‘It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always, Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain….only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Phil.1:20-21, 27a)
Pray for your brother and this gospel-laden opportunity. Then pray for your opportunities to proclaim the gospel, too. They’re not as public, but they are no less important in light of eternity.