"For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?" (Matthew 16:26) Costner has the whole world in a sense, being the Valedictorian shows he has the highest honors of his graduating class. Yet he was not going to forfeit his beliefs, his soul, for the approval of the world in those who were his instructors.
"Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully." (2 Timothy 4:2-5)
Mr. Costner proclaimed even in a very unfavorable time. He was given that speech which had to be approved because of complaints of prayer in school functions. To me that sounds a lot like when the passage talks of sound doctrine. He was doing the work of an evangelist. I hope that people see this, see his courage and come away thinking, "Wow, he has a strong faith, he must really be serious about what he believes in," and that they would want to learn more.
This story made me think of this one from 1 Kings 19:4-18:
“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place. Whoever escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall kill; and whoever escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall kill. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.””
Elijah felt like he was the only one left. They were trying to kill him. Granted, those who were complaining to the school weren’t trying to kill anyone, but they were trying to kill something…prayer. They were trying to kill freedom of religion and make it freedom FROM religion (like some groups want you to think). But here God encourages Elijah; the story ends that there are seven thousand still in Israel that follow God! Just listen again to that applause in this modern day example of feeling like you're standing alone but finding out there were others after all. Obviously there were a few that were opposed that later voiced their opinion again, but they were in opposition to everyone that was clapping in there. Sometimes the voice of a few overshadows the majority. But…that can work both ways:
Fellow Christians, this is the lesson I hope we can take from Mr. Costner's example is this: We are numerous out there, but sometimes it feels like we are not. Just like Elijah sometimes we feel alone, when the reality is we are NUMEROUS! We may feel oppressed, but just open the Bible and you'll likely find a story of someone facing hard times for their faith. Some opponents to Christianity cast large shadows, but you'll find that they were simply standing at a better angle to the light of the media. We need to position ourselves there, and with the light of Christ we will overshadow the works of those opposed.
Fellow Christians, yes sometimes a few voices overshadow a majority when, for example, those few go and complain and force a school to change a policy. Just think, however, if all of those who clapped took the time to go and voice their opinion? We need to be more vocal, we need to get more mobile, we need to stand up for our Lord as those who came before us did. People have died for their faith, why are we now afraid of a little disagreement in a discussion or maybe a crass comment, dirty look, etc.? Why are we so afraid now when we -- at least in the U.S. -- won't be killed, when those before spoke out even at the threat of death? Some died horribly as well. Fellow Christians, will you stand with me no matter the cost?
Here's a link to the story which backs up the factual assertions that I made in this blog from interviews with the Valedictorian:
Here's a little motivational music for us Christians to know who stands with us, the God of angel armies is always by our side: