(Jesus said) "So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies Me before men, I also will deny before My Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33
Recently, many school districts in South Carolina have received complaints about having prayer at board meetings and other events.
Rather than subjecting themselves to a long and costly battle, which they would probably lose, many places -- some with great reluctance -- decided to modify and minimize the spiritual part of what they've been doing. One such place was Pickens County where officials decided to officially exclude prayers from graduation ceremonies.
Did you note the word "officially" in that last sentence?
You may have missed it, but valedictorian Roy Costner IV did not.
This is why, when it came time for him to give his address, he began by tearing up his first manuscript and reading from the second. He began, "Those that we look up to, they have helped carve and mold us into the young adults that we are today. I'm so thankful that both of my parents led me to the Lord at a young age." Costner continued, "I think most of you will understand when I say, 'Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name ....'"
I would love to tell you that everybody prayed with Roy Costner IV. They didn't. That's because many in the audience were shouting words of approval and applauding the witness the young man was making.
When a spokesman for the school district was asked if Costner would be disciplined, he replied, "... we're not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths. (Besides), He's a graduate now. There's nothing we can do about it, even if we wanted to."
As Jesus once said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15).
What we have just seen play out in Pickens County, South Carolina, may well be the future for Christianity in America. By that I mean we no longer can expect officials to throw their weight behind Christianity. Rather than bemoaning that change, as individuals, we need to realize the Lord is now giving us a chance to make our own personal witness.
Of course, that's always been the Lord's position. Two thousand years ago the Savior told His disciples to confess Him before men.
Roy Costner IV has shown us how it's done.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I be eager and willing to share the story of Your life, death and third-day resurrection with others. Guide my words and direct my heart so that others having heard may believe. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries