As I was first reading the story, I was outraged. I'm sick of the "politically correct" society we live in, where you can believe or say anything you want, unless it offends somebody. What kind of freedom of religion exists in this country if a Navy chaplain is not allowed to teach the Truth?
But last night I was forced to take a step back and look at this story with a new perspective. We are going through the book of Acts in Bible study, and as I brought up this chaplain's story last night, my mind went back to chapter 5. Here, we are told of the persecution the apostles faced at the hands of the high priest, the Sadducees, and the Sanhedrin. They are imprisoned for preaching the gospel of salvation through the crucifixion & resurrection of Christ. Then they are freed by an angel, in order that thay may continue their preaching. The next day, they are brought in again, and are flogged and released, being ordered "not to speak in the name of Jesus." The last two verses of the chapter are what gave me new perspective:
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 5:41-42, NIV)The apostles had just been imprisoned and flogged. What is their reaction? Are they grumbling and complaining about injustice? No! They are rejoicing! Why? Because "they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name" of Jesus Christ! It was this very persecution that helped spread the gospel. Why should I be surprised that things haven't changed that much? The Name of Christ, and His crucifixion & resurrection, is still a stumbling block & foolishness to the world, but it is also still the power of God and the wisdom of God to those whom God has called.
Don't forget that God is in control, and that suffering & persecution are often His tools for spreading the glory of His grace. It is my prayer that we would be able to say with the apostle Paul, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." (Philippians 3:8) Likewise, let us "rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5)