It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Oh, there have been many recent events I could have blogged about…and really wanted to. But I needed time to step away and thoroughly think through not only what was important, but what was necessary to be said about what has been happening in this country over the past few months.
I’m not going to write about the rights that are increasingly in peril for Christians in the United States. I think any Bible believing Christian (and by that I mean one who does not pick and choose what they prefer to believe, but accepts the entire Bible as the inerrant Word of God that was meant to be lived and obeyed…nowadays you have to clarify those things) who is even paying half attention can clearly see that people of faith are coming under even more intense fire than in years past. So there’s no need to bullet-point the obvious. But I do want to emphasize this one point…
IT IS ENTIRELY OUR OWN FAULT!
We’ve been truly blessed in this country. We have enjoyed freedoms and privileges that just are not found any place else in the world. Over time we just took it for granted that we would always enjoy them. We just couldn’t imagine a time when there would a real possibility that certain teachings from the pulpit or even discussed in a public environment could be considered “hate speech” and the potential of being fired, fined, or arrested for voicing those beliefs would be on the horizon. Who would have thought that a photographer, a baker, and florist could lose their businesses and/or be fined thousands of dollars simply for declining to participate in a wedding ceremony they felt would be in violation of deeply held convictions?
No, we were all pretty sure that nothing like could ever happen here. We knew of the gulags of the Soviet Union and the prisons in China and the re-education camps in North Korea. And it was horrible. And we gave money to help those poor souls and to send missionaries to create more Christians who could also become victims of persecution. But we weren’t very worried that anyone here would ever have to fear that the government would threaten an individual for expressing his belief about what constitutes sin. After all, we do have the 1st Amendment.
Oh yes, there were those who mocked our faith and accused us of being narrow-minded, bigoted, homophobic, judgmental prudes. But we showed them. We set out to convince them that we really weren’t all those things. We compromised a little here and there. We didn’t come out and call sin “sin”. We simply said, “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” We “overlooked” things like living together before marriage and taking the name of Lord in vain and rebellious children (kids will be kids). We avoided talking about subjects like abortion and homosexuality and government corruption except among people who already agreed with us or said things like, “well, that’s politics and I don’t involve myself in that.” And “It’s better to avoid the topics of religion and politics.”
We allowed the loud voices of those who are actually in the minority to dictate our dialogue. They slowly transformed what was considered acceptable in society and we left it to the pastors, the Televangelists, and the activists to take the heat for opposing it. They redefined terms like “rights” to include “anything I wanted to do that wasn’t illegal and even some things that currently are but we’re working to change that.” And they taught us to say, “who am I to judge?”
So here we are. Videos are coming out that expose Planned Parenthood negotiating the sale of aborted baby body parts and discussing how they can harvest the organs by carefully manipulating the killing process…all using our tax dollars.
The Supreme Court has ruled that Gay Marriage is legal in all 50 states even though the lawyers for the proponents admitted that doing so may eventually have legal consequences for those who openly oppose it. Recreational marijuana use is now legal in Colorado and Washington State and medical marijuana in 23 states and the District of Columbia. And it’s really not that hard to get a Medical Card. There are “companies” now that help you do using their own physicians, like Price-Less Evaluations in California. There are also websites where you can find pot-friendly doctors to write you prescriptions.
According to studies cohabitation has increased 900% in the past 50 years.
AND AS LONG AS YOU DON’T SAY ANYTHING NO ONE WILL ACCUSE YOU OF BEING A RELIGIOUS NUT CASE.
AND AS LONG AS WE REMAIN SILENT NOTHING WE SAY CAN OR WILL BE USED AGAINST US IN A COURT OF LAW
We’ve always kind of “talked a good game” amongst ourselves; bemoaning the downward spiral of the American culture. Each generation has had it’s rebels. The 20s gave us the Flappers. The 50s had the Beatniks. I remember people talking about those long-haired Hippies in the 60s. We’ve seen the Punks and the Goths and the Skaters and on and on. We’ve talked a lot…till we were told to shut up…but we never really did much about it, except to try to incorporate some of it into our churches in order to seem to be more “relevant”.
Isn’t ironic how now it’s actually Bible-believing Christians who are now portrayed as “Counter-cultural”?
I think that is what has finally awakened the Church. Whether too late or not only time will tell. But we cannot go back to sleep again. So there are some things that we can absolutely no longer do as Christians — no matter what!
1. Be silent! I’m not suggesting we stand on street corners with bull horns screaming “REPENT!!” But far too many Christians have the attitude that “I’m not going to state my position one way or the other, that way people will see me as loving and accepting. If the subject comes up I can then gently lead people to the Truth. But until that day I’m just going to sit here and keep my mouth shut.” That’s how we got into this dilemma. I don’t think you have to get “in your face” about things. But unless you indicate that you believe differently from the rest of society people are going to assume you don’t. Don’t imagine that just because you profess to be a Christian that people are going to know what you stand for and against. Unfortunately, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Although the real population of LGBTQ Americans in only about 1-5% (not the 20% + touted by many in the media and politics) they have been squeaking louder than we have. There’s no reason to treat them with disrespect or contempt, but you can no longer allow them to portray us unloving and our faith as oppressive.
Nor can we allow politicians, the media, and activist groups to “call evil good and good evil” when we claim that the Bible is Word of God and Jesus Christ is the only way to Salvation. If we believe it we need to live and proclaim it.
2. Apologize! When SCOTUS announced it’s decision on gay marriage I saw many of my fellow Christians posting their opposition to it on social media. However, when someone disagreed and said they couldn’t believe that they would be so un-accepting and closed minded many apologized; not necessarily for their stance on the issue, but that they were being perceived as such.
Again, I don’t believe harsh rhetoric is going to change hearts and minds, but there’s no reason to apologize when you have stood for your faith. For some reason we believe that if someone calls us names we must be what they say we are. In actuality, how loving would it be for us to remain silent when we see someone drowning in sin knowing what the eternal outcome of that persons soul is?
People who disagree with scripture are going to see anything that opposes what they believe as unloving. After all (in their minds) if someone really loves you they let you do what you want and be “who you are”. Remember, their words are not your identity.
3. Wait for someone else to do something! If you’re thinking that politicians are going to set things right if we just give them enough time you REALLY have not been paying attention. Granted there are some who are fighting to retain our Constitutional Rights and to protect the rights of people of faith and conscience. But there are plenty who see things like abortion, gay rights, legalized drugs…the Social Issues…as political dynamite and will avoid taking a stance unless it means they may lose their job. They’ll even join with those who support these things in order to gain political capital. Everyone has been waiting for someone else to sign the petition, write the letter to the editor, speak out. That someone else was YOU!
4. Continuing to focus on us! For too long the focus of the Church has been on US. What can God do for me? What does God do for me? How can I have better relationships? What is my “Special Purpose”? How can I be happy, emotionally healthy, financially secure, relationally satisfied? We have groups and programs and sermon series and motivational plaques that continually put the focus on ME ME ME!
The reality is our focus should always have been on who God is, the work and person of Christ, and the lost and helpless. “‘He did what was right and just, so all went well with him. He defended the cause of the poor and needy and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 22:16) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but he darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-5) “You see, at just the right time when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 6-8) “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultess is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:17)
5. In order to stop doing 1-4 we can no long neglect the Word of God! We are busy people, but we often use that as an excuse for not spending the kind of time in God’s Word that will enable us to stop doing the first 4. When we spend time really immersing ourselves in God’s inspired Word we begin to receive boldness to speak out. We stop apologizing and being timid about what we believe. We realize that God has not called us to a ministry of sitting on our butts; He’s called us to a life of doing. And our desire begins to turn from the things that we want to the things that God wants.
Does it occur to any of us that this Bible that is collecting dust on our coffee table or sits beneath the stack of devotional books on our night stand is God’s letter to us? God thought it was so immensely important to reveal Himself, His love, His design, His purpose for our lives to us that He spoke through His Spirit to 40 different men and compelled them to write down what He wanted to make sure what got conveyed to us. Then He preserved it, making sure that each writing was passed down over the millenniums, providing scholarly evidence that what we have today is intact and what was intended. Over the years He has also proven it’s accuracy and truth through science and archaeology and the fulfillment of prophecy.
God considered this so important and yet we find it so daunting to spend more than 10-20 minutes reading it. We think a daily devotional or a book by some noted Christian leader makes up for the time we don’t spend in His Word. But nothing replaces God’s Word nor can we afford anymore to take it so lightly. It’s one of the few things that is going to provide us with the hope and encouragement we need to face what is ahead.
6. Put off prayer. Now, more than ever, we need to spend time talking with God; not just asking for things or calling out for help when something goes wrong. We need to be seeking His guidance and strength and power. We need to be pleading for the lost…our friends and family and neighbors who don’t know Him or have walked away from their faith. We must pray for our nation and our leaders; that God would lead them and raise up men and women after His own heart. And we need to listen to what He has to say to us; what direction He is leading us and what He would have us do in service to Him. Our prayers cannot be casual conversations that we pop off when it comes to our minds.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonian 5:16-18)
You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities you actually have to spend time in prayer during the day: while driving to work and home, while sitting at your desk listening to a co-workers conversation, while washing dishes or cleaning the house, while showering or making dinner. When you hear a siren off in the distance. Even when you are watching the news on television or browsing social media there are opportunities to pray. Maybe a news story causes you concern…pray. Perhaps someone posted on Facebook that they had a lousy day or aren’t feeling well…pray. Did you get an unexpected check in the mail? Give thanks. Did the kids turn off the t.v. without your nagging? Praise God and pray for them.
And spend time listening as well. When you don’t feel like you have anything to pray about now is the time to just say, “God, I’m here. I’m listening. Speak to my heart.” You may not hear anything, but that doesn’t mean God hasn’t said something.
Ultimately, God is in control. Nothing is a surprise to Him. But that doesn’t mean that He expects us to sit idle while He does all the work. We are called to be salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
IT’S NOT OVER YET!
Regardless of whether things change or not we cannot continue to do what we’ve been doing. There are too many people that need to know Jesus. There are too many wandering around in darkness looking for the Light. There are too many wondering if there’s anyone who stands for anything anymore? There are too many asking, “What is truth? Is this all there is?” We need to start living up to our calling in Christ Jesus and “Go into all the world and make disciples.” We have a mandate to be salt and light. It’s time we become seasoned and start shining. We have a nation of lost and seeking that are looking for us to be the Body of Christ. No more excuse. There’s no more time to waste.
“Even if the present rush to increasingly public and approved iniquity continues, the gospel of Christ remains the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). No individual in Christ needs to fear God’s judgment. We may be killed proclaiming biblical holiness, as Paul said in Romans 8:36, but in all these things we will be more than conquerors through him who loved us.”