Why the Shock and Awe?
Shock and Awe
Shock and Awe
When the world does things that do not line up with Scripture, who is really surprised? Well, apparently a lot of Christians this past week were shocked and awed at the legalization of gay marriage. For me, it doesn't surprise me in the least. The world is the world and acts like the world. However, the problems we face today are because we Christians look like the world too. If Christians look like the world, how do we even stand a chance at influencing culture? How can the saving message of Jesus Christ reach others if those preaching that message look exactly like those they are preaching it to? The problem is, it makes it much more difficult because people see Christians as representatives of Jesus Christ. If we are misrepresenting Him, then others are pushed away rather than drawn to Him.
Does this mean that Christianity is completely ineffective? Absolutely not. Christianity continues to march on and people are being saved, even in the modern American culture. However, we are not having the full impact we could be having. As someone who has pastored churches, I can tell you right now that many are so inwardly focused that they've lost sight of how to reach the lost.
The Problems We Face Today
The problems we face today are because we've lost sight of what it is Christianity should be. In my perfectly honest opinion, Christians have gotten comfortable. We have been comfortable for a long time and honestly, marriage has taken abuse way before this past Friday. This past Friday was only another step in the process of marriage becoming what Christians have allowed it to become. Yes, you read it right; we've allowed it. Let me explain why.
For the past 100 years or so, marriage has taken abuse, especially in Western culture. Divorces are easy to get and they are not granted on Biblical perspectives. Adultery runs rampant, even among Christians. Christian couples co-habit and engage in sexual intercourse before marriage. Marriage between a man and woman (for way longer than 100 years) has not been what God intends. Although the man answers for the family to the Lord, that does not mean that he is allowed to dominate the family like the dictator of some foreign country in an abuse of power. Notice that Christ tells us in Ephesians 5:25 that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Christ gave up His life and died for the church in an act of submission, surrender and sacrifice. Think about that one for a moment.
Whether or not our country runs on Christian ideals or not, we are to live according to Scripture. Divorce should never be the option on the table until everything else has been exhausted. Scripture says in Matthew 5:32 that only in cases of sexual immorality is divorce permissible. I'd argue that even then, Christ would rather the family be reconciled and preserved, if possible. We shouldn't just live miserably, we need to always find common ground and reconcile. Adultery is never beneficial...to anyone. Co-habiting and premarital sex are so important and to be perfectly honest, the very act of sex between a man and woman is what begins a marriage, not the ceremony. How many people are you married to? The point is that Christians are to live counter-culturally anyway. We shouldn't look like the culture, even if it doesn't differ greatly from Christianity.
So as time continues, I still reflect upon the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage. I want you to keep in mind Christians are not the sole cause of this because those who are of the world let the flesh take them where it wants to. However, I honestly think this could be a good thing in that it just might be what we need in order to get Lukewarm Christianity (part of the title and theme to my upcoming book, well timed thanks to God for His perfect timing) to wake up and realize that we have lost our ability to influence our culture. Our comfort zone has disappeared. We don't get things the way Christianity wants anymore. The world continues on its destructive and deceiving course; which, by the way, if you haven't read Revelation, Daniel and other end times prophecies, will continue to be the case and even end up worse than it is now. In the 1st Century, the Christians then were anything but comfortable. More than anything, they were constantly on the run and in hiding.
Map of Christianity by Nation
Christianity by Nation
By and large, a majority of the world identifies with Christianity. The influence we have is considerable considering it started with 12 disciples in a Roman Empire ruled nation that killed the person who started it. Pretty amazing stuff. God can do wonders through us if we would only allow Him to do so. The problem these days is that we are too focused on everyone else's sin instead of correcting the huge logs in our own eyes.
Winning this many souls to Christ did not happen nation by nation. It happened one relationship at a time. It's really hard to convert someone when you are screaming at them what they're doing wrong. Paul writes in Titus 3:1-3, "Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. 3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another." Ever consider that perhaps they're fighting against Christianity because they need to hear how loved they are? I mean, Christ died for their sins too. He loves them and wants to see them in a right relationship with Him. Only by befriending them and showing them love (which can be done and still disagree with their sin at the same time) will they truly know just how much Christ loves them. Trust that a true Christian will be convicted by the Holy Spirit of what their sin is. Trust me, He lets you know, even when we don't want to hear or admit it.
Consumer vs. Contributor
Encouragement Going Forward
(Earlier I talked about how we are inwardly focused. This above sermon from January 2014 sheds a little light on the "consumer vs. contributor" attitude in some churches.)
So, now what? Onward Christian soldiers, onward. Now we hit prayer time with more diligence than ever because we are under the microscope (and have been for a while) and woven deep in a battle (still). The Supreme Court cannot supersede God's law and wisdom. Romans 13:1-2 say we have to obey the governments and authorities over us because God has put them in place. However, in Acts 4, Peter and John were threatened and told by the Jewish Leaders not to preach Christ. They gracefully and respectfully denied and told them that they cannot stop preaching Christ. So, we respect the government, but we are still obligated to speak the Truth of Christ and even subsequently submit to the punishment thereof if we do continue to preach the Truth of Christ.. With that said, allow me to give a little encouragement and advice.
1. Remember, persecution of the church usually bodes well for the Gospel of Christ. A little persecution is what has fueled it's spread since the disciples first saw the resurrected Christ and received the Holy Spirit.
2. Pray with diligence for strength, courage and for those who oppose God to find the saving grace of Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ paid the penalty for all mankind's sin.
3. Do not be afraid to stand for what you believe in, just don't do it with hate, malice, speaking evil and fueling the fire. Instead, pursue the fruit of the Spirit. (See my other hub on "A New Look at the Fruit of the Spirit".)
4. Do not withhold the Gospel from anyone. Now more than ever, everyone needs to hear about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Don't tell them what's wrong with their life if they aren't saved. Tell them what Jesus did for them.
5. Don't forget that your sin is no worse than theirs. You were a sinner saved by God's grace...everyone deserves the same.
6. Remember that a time is coming when the message of Christ will be illegal. Stay strong, do not let those that threaten you intimidate you. Fear God who can condemn your soul to hell before you fear a man who threatens bodily harm, fines, and jail.
7. Continue on in the war. Satan loses the battle in the end, because realistically, that's who we are fighting...not our fellow man.
8. Satan is crafty. Do not be surprised, shocked and awed that culture continues to follow godless ways. Christians are to live counter-culturally anyway.
9. There are more sins this country approves of, not just gay marriage. Preach against all sin and fight to win over souls lost in those sins.
10. Finally, stay true to Jesus Christ. He loves you (and everyone else) more than you can possibly imagine. Let's do the work He's called us to until He returns, because every day that passes is one day closer to the time He returns. There will be a time when it is too late to come to Christ. Please keep sharing the Gospel until then.
I realize this is not a popular subject at this time. I am prepared to hear negativity about it in fact. However, I only ask that you please keep it civil. I will delete any comments that are rude, condescending or hateful from any point of view. Hate is not what God advocates from us, it is love. I only ask that this is read with an open mind and heart. Please allow God to talk to you in this matter. I have thought long and hard about how to address this issue and what I've received is to treat it with the same grace, mercy, forgiveness and patience that has been shown to me.
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The problems we face today are because we've lost sight of what it is Christianity should be...we have gotten comfortable.