“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Jesus’ words, from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, are what today’s social media-obsessed culture might describe as #faithgoals.
But just like the reality behind those picture-perfect photos on Instagram, living a faithful life is often more challenging than it may seem.
This is even more evident considering recent news of Christian “influencers” falling away from the faith. Various people have tried to make sense of this phenomenon. David French at the National Review and rocker John Cooper are two good reads on the subject.
I particularly like the following quote from French’s piece:
Are you faithful? I’d submit that you don’t know until that faith is truly tested — either in dramatic moments of crisis or in the slow, steady buildup of worldly pressure and secular scorn.
When I read that, I couldn’t help but reflect on the story of Tom Rost, owner of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in Michigan and one of the central figures of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case.
In the last six years, Tom has experienced both a dramatic moment of crisis and the steady buildup of pressure that French describes.
The dramatic moment happened in 2013.
A male funeral director who had worked for Harris Funeral Home for six years gave Tom a letter. The letter informed Tom that the funeral director identified as a woman and would begin dressing and presenting as a woman while interacting with grieving families.
This employee had agreed to the funeral home’s sex-specific dress code and followed it for six years. The dress code is designed to ensure that funeral home clients focus on processing their grief, not on the funeral home and its employees.
Tom had a decision to make. He had to consider the interests of the funeral director who he cared about, the other employees, and especially the grieving families that he serves. It was a lot to take in. But after two weeks of careful consideration and prayer, Tom decided that he could not agree to the funeral director’s proposal.
That decision changed Tom’s life.
First, the funeral director filed a complaint. And later, a government agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sued Tom for sex discrimination.
ADF has been representing Tom in court ever since.
As word of the case began to spread, Tom, his family, and even his employees began to experience that steady buildup of pressure and scorn, which included hate mail and threats of violence. Then worry crept in—it was hard not to think about potential clients going elsewhere because of the ongoing litigation and misinformation. The future of Harris Funeral Homes, and its 100-year legacy, began to feel uncertain.
In other words: Tom’s faith was tested—big time.
“I was about as low as you could get,” he says.
But that’s what makes Tom’s story such a good one. Even in the midst of everything that has happened, Tom and his family have remained faithful.
And in about six weeks, Tom and his family will walk the steps of the United States Supreme Court for oral arguments in their case. ADF Senior Counsel John Bursch will argue on the Rosts’ behalf. It’s a big deal—and the outcome of the case could have widespread consequences for everyone.
But the ability to continue “keeping on,” as Tom describes it, is not done by his own strength. The honor and glory belong to God alone (John 15:5). That’s why Tom, John, and this case could use your prayers.
In the short videos below, Tom, his wife Nancy, and John describe some ways that you can pray as the October 8 court date draws near. I hope you’ll take their prayer requests to heart.
It’s people like Tom who we should consider the real influencers—those who remain faithful even when the world is against them and their faith is truly tested.
Because as former ADF client Pastor Jack Roberts’ so aptly explained, “Being faithful in our own divine assignment will enable others, in turn, to do their part—and perhaps they will see the conclusion. Regardless, God will have the last, and best, word.”
Thank you for praying!
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