And it goes on…
There’s been quite a bit of interest in my blogs over the last 2 days. It further reinforces the fact that homosexuality and LGBT concerns in general will be the greatest points of contention over the next several years or even decades. Not just in culture, politics, and media but in the Church as well.
The more liberal denominations have already/are on the throng of embracing the practice of being affirming congregations. The conservative ones are holding on to traditional views and literal interpretations of Scripture, and despite their benevolent efforts in communities, will be pegged as bigoted and intolerant. The growing moderates are comprised of younger evangelicals and emergent Christians who are bridging a gap between compassion and truth, proclaiming the Gospel and practical service. Unfortunately, in the name of sharing Christ and building relationships, they face the temptation of compromising their Biblical beliefs or even subconsciously justifying others’ behavior and actions for the sake of reaching them.
Please allow me to clarify some things about my previous posts:
1. I am in no way saying that Evangelicals should condone anything. Condone means to approve or sanction, especially with reluctance. But do we need to allow certain things to take place? If it’s the law, Yes. But the beauty of being part of our republic is that we have civil rights to vote and even to voice our opinion, both guaranteed by our Constitution.
Parents need to take an active role in their children’s education. Look through the materials they’re bringing home, ask them questions, join the PTA, run for school board. But does that mean we have to walk around with picket signs and bullhorns? Do we have to make accusatory and demeaning statements for the newspapers and evening news? We can make our concerns known without making other people feel like trash. Too often we build trenches between us and the world, giving off the impression that we’re any better. It’s absolutely not true though! The only difference between us and “outsiders” is not our works or personal righteousness…but Jesus Himself: His grace and mercy which rescues, justifies, sanctifies, and deputizes us>>to continue His work of restoration.
Take a stand for what we believe in? Yes. Protect our children? Yes. But don’t let that get in the way of reconciling people to Christ. And don’t let “protective walls” lull us into complacency, thinking that all is well. We must continue to prepare each generation to serve God or we will be no better than the Israelites. “We will not hide these truths from our children but will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD. We will tell of his power and the mighty miracles he did” (Psalm 78:4).
In our effort to protect ourselves from the toxicity of society, we try to home school our children, send them to Christian/Catholic schools, and even Bible Colleges. I hate to break it to everyone, but the ENVIRONMENT means nothing if the HEART isn’t right. The movie Saved which came out in 2004 was a depiction of Christian school life. The producer/directors traveled for six months and visited Christian schools, chapels, youth ministries, etc. Saved was a presentation of what they saw. Shallow Christian young people who were just religious enough, knew enough of God, knew just enough of the Scriptures, and could use the Christianese to fool everyone. I wasn’t offended by the movie. I was embarrassed. None of those “safe places” will protect our children from worldliness, lust, and immorality. Only proper discipleship will raise up committed, faithful, holy, God honoring followers of Christ. The children’s and youth leaders can only do so much with 1-4 hours a week. It must be in the home. Teaching the Word, reading the Word, practicing the Word, and living by the Word.
I understand that even those discipled in the best of conditions can still mess up. But they’re the ones who have the best chance of surviving and thriving with God because they have the proper “tools and weapons” to survive. Josh McDowell has been used by God in powerful ways to help our parents prepare our children for the challenges of the 21st century in a post-Christian society. Must reads are Right from Wrong and Beyond Belief to Conviction. They stress the importance of not just knowing what we believe, but knowing WHY WE BELIEVE what we do. There is too much regurgitated theology, and much of it is erroneous. We have our own Christian urban legends. That produces weak, vacillating Christians who are unable to give the reason for the hope that they have, much less present it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).
Josh’s findings in his surveys among Christian teens are alarming to say the least. This data is from a poll of young people (70% involved in youth group; 82% identified as Christians)
What are your views about God:
- 80% believe that God created the universe
- 84% believe God is involved in people’s lives
- 63% believe that Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Jews pray to same the same god but have different names
- 48% believe it doesn’t matter what faith one has because all believe the same principles
- 58% believe all religions teach equally valid truth
- 65% believe there’s no way to tell which religion really is true
In a 3 month period:
- 2/3 haved lied to a parent or authority
- 6/10 lie to peers
- 1/3 cheated on an exam
- ¼ smoked
- 1/5 tried to hurt someone
- 1/9 got drunk
- 1/10 did drugs by the time they’re 18
- 55% have performed some type of sex act (intercourse) yet
- 2/3 say they pray daily
- 84% go to Sunday school, youth group weekly
The startling reality is that there is no correlation between beliefs and behavior/practice/actions.
- 60% of twenty-somethings say that they were involved in church as a teenager but no longer are.
- Only 20% of kids maintain the same level of spiritual activity during their twenties that they did during their teenage years.
- Only 45% of church-going teens said that making a spiritual connection with God at church was very important to them.
When asked how we are to define truth?
- That which is based on cultural setting – go with the crowd, what’s agreeable to everyone.
- That which is most convenient – if it works for you, do it.
- That which offends no one – there are no moral absolutes=relativism.
These standards make truth changing, mutable, unstable, and inconsistent variables Remember: A little truth + a little error = erroneous beliefs, and the Bible is no longer THE standard but an archaic literary work.
2. A response to my first blog justified going on the offensive citing God’s judgment against cities such as Sodom and Gomorrah. If God didn’t condone the actions of these cities, why should we? Yes, they were punished because of their immorality and God was unable to find even a single righteous person. But Ezekiel presents other reasons for their demise: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed (gluttonous and greedy) and unconcerned (apathetic and self-involved); they did not help the poor and needy” (16:49). Even in the case of Jericho, which Joshua was commanded to destroy completely, we see Achan giving into greed and disobedience by taking some of the devotional objects. This was one of God’s favored people who gave into temptation. (Joshua 7). It wasn’t just the Gentiles, but the Israelites as well who were guilty of iniquity. The Bible is a constant reminder of God’s Sovereignty and Holiness, contrasted by human weakness, foolishness, ingratitude, and sin.
Let’s not forget how God chastised His own people. The Israelites wandered through the desert for close to 40 years. Because of their disobedience, the Israelites were cast into bondage by the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Assyrians, and Romans. God gave them chance after chance to repent and turn away from wickedness but they pursued everything that He forbade. He finally allowed a series of diasporas to occur ending in 74AD as the Jewish people were scattered across the Roman Empire until 1948. Here’s the kicker dating back to Genesis 12: “I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” The Israelites had their calling, their mandate. But what did they do? They resembled the nations around them. They did the same things the pagans and heathens did. They were selfish, self-centered, greedy, rebellious, wicked, and hedonistic…yet they called themselves the people of God…sacrificing animals to appease God’s anger…then sinning again. They took for granted God’s mercy, goodness, and blessings. Their calling was to be holy (Leviticus 20:26) and to be a blessing to the nations. #FAIL Is the Church in America any different from the Israelites? Before getting offended and bent out of shape, think about it again…ARE WE ANY DIFFERENT FROM THE ISRAELITES?
3. I am not blasting/judging the Body of Christ. I love the Church. I’m part of it. But we all need reminders once in a while; even correction. Just as no one would really admits that they’re homophobic, who of us would ever want to admit that we’re self-righteous or pharisaical? One of the most misquoted and misunderstood Bible verses is Matthew 7:1 “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” It doesn’t mean NOT TO JUDGE. Judge comes from the Greek word krino which means to cause separation; harsh condemnation. Jesus is saying “Don’t judge harshly, as to cut off or condemn.” When I type these words, I’m addressing myself first. The questions I brought up yesterday were for me. Further, it was a challenge to US as the Church: Let’s get our house in order, get our lives right, get our eyes on Jesus. Then with the same fervor as King Josiah, bust open the Scriptures and follow God’s mandate!
A major part of that mandate is reaching the hungry, the hurting, the lonely, the rejected, those who desperately need to experience the love of Christ. When it comes to immorality in the world, Matthew 7 addresses this also. “Don’t give pearls to swine.” I am in no way calling anyone a swine, and neither is Christ. It was the use of a simile. It means don’t judge non-Christians by Christian standards. Sacred means nothing in the secular realm. They won’t regard our beliefs or God’s Word if they don’t believe in God. Our memory verses, especially the dreaded 6 won’t mean anything to them. But too often, our strongest condemnations are reserved for those who aren’t living by the same code we are. Paul gives us a clear directive: “I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do…God decides on the outsiders” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
4. All this in a nutshell:
- If we choose to dive into the cultural sludge…which I believe we should…do it with kindness, mutual respect=be Christlike! Let’s not be defensive, fearful, suspicious, belligerent, demeaning, self-righteous, arrogant, haughty, or foolish.
- Let us choose to extend to others the amazing things God has extended to us: mercy, patience, compassion, empathy, and unending, unyielding, unbelievable LOVE. I say take the Golden Rule one step further: Treat others the way you want God to treat you! #OUCH
- Invest in, teach, prepare, mentor, and guide the next generation.
“God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (2 Peter 3:9).
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (John 3:16).