A curious thing is happening in America: Christians are being sued for living out their faith. That is to say, Christian owners of businesses are being sued for running their businesses in a manner consistent with their faith. Sure, the issues are more complex than I’ve laid it out, but that’s in a nutshell.
From the mom-and-pop bakery in Colorado, to the billion-dollar arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby in Oklahoma, “Christian businesses” are being targeted. The Baker for refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding, and The Picture Frame Maker for refusing to pay for abortifacients.
“There’s no such thing as a ‘Christian business’,” critics claim, and, to a point, they’re correct. Businesses cannot have personal relationships with Jesus, so, no, they can’t be Christian. They can, though, operate in a Christian manner, and as luck would have it, Rocker and frontman for Switchfoot, Jon Foreman, has a few words to help us out:
“There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls’ volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty…We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be.
“We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words “Jesus Christ” is no more or less “Christian” than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ, and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience.
“We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge “brothers” who have a different calling.”
If you’re a fan of Switchfoot, you won’t often hear the name “Jesus Christ” mentioned, and Foreman has no issue with that. He and his bandmates feel their calling is to make the best music they can. Some of it, he says, “are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music”. We are all different parts of the same Body, he rightly points out, so we shouldn’t put our “calling” on him.
I think something similar can be said for “Christian businesses”. While I can’t speak for The Baker, I have personally worked for The Picture Frame Maker, David Green. I’ve heard him state that Hobby Lobby’s goal is to support Christian ministry. I’ve been on trips where the Green family purchased a theater in Branson, MO from a retiring performer, then handed the deed over to a local church. The examples of this ministry focus of Hobby Lobby’s are abundant. While the size and scope might differ for The Baker, I have no doubt that there are myriads of like-minded small business owners who are simply trying to glorify and honor their Lord by being the best at what they feel called to be. The secular left may not understand why some Christians actually feel that their faith should influence their actions, but that’s how a genuine Christian faith works.
If The Rocker is given the luxury of being the best he can be to honor his God in the manner he chooses, why can’t the Baker and The Picture Frame Maker? This First Right should apply equally to all, no matter how much that might offend you. That’s why it’s the First Right.