Is God No Longer Welcome?

I believe as Christians we should always be mindful of the manner and tone in which we proclaim the truth of God. Trusting in the sovereignty of God who works all things together for our good and His glory, I also believe we must be patient as our society generally and in some cases, our government legislatively, moves farther and farther away from its biblical roots. But patience doesn’t mean passivity or silence. Too often, Christians fail to speak up, not only on matters of faith, but also cultural and political issues that clearly contradict the will of God. Belief in God’s sovereignty doesn’t require that we be silent. If it did, why would anyone bother to share the gospel or pray? Salvation and answered prayer, after all, come as a result of God’s sovereignty.

There is no doubt that there’s a great political divide in our nation. Whoever first said that politics has become a contact sport was right. Many politicians of both political parties, instead of trying to unify us as a nation, spend a great deal of time taking shots at their opponents. Unfortunately, unity is not always possible. Last week, during a radio interview, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) decided to “take a shot” at some in the Republican Party, specifically those he deemed “extreme” in their conservatism. He said the following, “Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that is who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” Since then, Governor Cuomo has backed off of his comments, claiming to have been taken out of context.

It would be easy to speak to his comments solely from a political point of view. That is partly the problem as many of our nation’s leaders speak only from that view while ignoring altogether God’s will as expressed in His Word. From a political perspective, my views differ dramatically from the governor’s. As for his comment that extreme conservatives have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorker’s are, since I live in Alabama, I’ll leave that for New Yorker’s. But I do take exception about what he calls extreme; right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon and anti-gay. What I find to be true is that the liberal, progressive movement likes to treat the Bible and the Constitution for that matter, the same. They want to make it seem as if neither says what they clearly do.

As for being pro-assault-weapon, personally, I’m not overly passionate about this particular issue. I don’t even own a gun, but it is a constitutional right and I know that when citizens start giving away rights, government’s tendency is to want to take more. As to the other two other issues the governor spoke about (right-to-life, anti-gay) I am passionate. For a long time I held to a pro-choice position, a position that is just simply not biblical. In fact, many in the Republican Party who claim to be pro-life make an exception in the case of rape and incest. An exception on this basis is also unbiblical. There may be many Christians who hold this position, perhaps only because they have failed to look into the Scriptures for counsel on this issue. If you are in this category, consider God’s Word and then humbly submit to His authority. The last characterization the governor made about extreme conservatives was that they were anti-gay. The first problem is with the way he phrased it, anti-gay. That’s another things liberals like to do, mischaracterize their opponents. Now I’m not naïve; there are people of both parties who spew hate toward those with differing views. And there have certainly been cases of discrimination against gays, just as there has been discrimination against others as well, Christians included. But to believe in the biblical view of marriage as God defines it and to state that you do is not hate, intolerance, nor discrimination. Simply put, it is biblical. To truly love someone is not to condone their sin, whatever that sin may be, but instead to lovingly share with them the truth of God, the reality of Jesus and the difference He has made in our lives. To confront anyone in any other manner than a loving manner is not Christian. We are sinners saved by grace and that grace should cause us to always be gracious as we share with others.

As we profess the truths of the Bible, don’t expect an easy road. Criticism will come and people will lash out at you with a whole host of names. They may call you arrogant, self-righteous; they’ll ask you who you think you are to judge, and then they will act as if because you yourself are a sinner, you have no right to say anything at all. They do this because they love their sin. They believe that what the Old Testament defined as sin is no longer sin because of Jesus. They forget that Jesus said He came not to abolish the Law and the Prophets “but to fulfill them”. They ignore the primary reason for which He came, to save His people from their sin. As far as I can tell, Jesus never said, “Now, go and sin more”. In fact, in Romans 6:1, the apostle Paul asks rhetorically, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” He answers in verse 2, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

Lastly, don’t expect non-Christians to understand your perspective concerning these issues because they can’t (1 Corinthians 2:14). It requires the Spirit of God who imparts wisdom living inside of them. They are not in search of God’s wisdom, only their own. They may call you foolish, arrogant or extreme, but I can’t think of anything more arrogant and extreme than to disbelieve what God has said. Be encouraged though, these people are not to be feared; God is on His throne. Don’t let your imperfections mute you. Remember, Christianity is not about being perfect, but trusting in a Savior who is. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans nor any of us have all the answers. But God has them, and all His answers are right. So, cling to Him, His Word and live every day for His glory. And as you encounter those along the way who may be intolerant to your beliefs, continue to love them and pray for them knowing that our God is sovereign and that Jesus changes everything!

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By Faith Alone

“Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1) This was Paul’s question to the churches in southern Galatia. He established these churches during his first missionary journey. Paul always had to deal with false teachers who contended that salvation came by more than just faith in Christ alone. Some of these teachers that had infiltrated these churches taught that in order to be saved one also had to be circumcised. Unfortunately, some Galatians thought it to be true, “O foolish Galatians!”  

            Today, we have a tendency if not to believe, to at least act as if we have to add to what Christ has done on our behalf. However, Scripture is clear; salvation is in Christ alone, received only by faith in what He has already done on the cross. Jesus really did pay it all. And for that, our boast is only in Him.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

When Love Grows Cold

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4) 

Humans are such creatures of habit. Day after day we go through our busy routines knowing exactly what to do, but often having little passion as we do it. Routine can lead to complacency; this complacency often manifesting itself in our most important human relationships whereby over time, the love, passion and commitment to that special someone ceases to exist. It is when peripheral issues are allowed to take precedence that relationships break down. Perhaps thought of as common in our day, complacency and lack of commitment in our relationships need not be considered either common or for that matter, normal.       

            “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first” The people in the church at Ephesus had a problem with commitment, if not to each other, certainly to Jesus. The apostle John received and recorded the Revelation from its Divine author, Jesus Christ. At the beginning of Revelation we find seven letters written to seven different churches that existed in the first century. These seven churches are thought to characterize churches throughout the entire church age. Though not all of the churches received both, a common pattern of these letters included things in which they were to be commended, as well as things deserving of rebuke. The church at Ephesus received both. They had much to be commended for; the great work they did for the cause of Christ; their perseverance, spiritual discernment and their refusal to tolerate evil. But despite all of that, they had flaws, and these flaws mattered. 

            Those to whom John was writing in the church at Ephesus had abandoned the love they had for Christ in the beginning. Have you done the same? Do you burn with the same passion for Christ, the same desire to make your relationship with Him a priority? We’re not told why such was the case in Ephesus, only that it was. And consequences followed. Although they knew their doctrine, the people at Ephesus forgot that their Christian faith was first and foremost about a relationship with Christ and as a result, they grew cold, not only toward Him, but toward each other. We would do well to learn from their mistake.

            When our relationship with Jesus takes a back seat to anything, don’t assume consequences won’t follow. They will. Your relationship with Christ will affect all other relationships. It is not only impossible, but naïve to think you can be all God created you to be if He’s not the first priority in your life. We can never forget that a right theology and a right relationship go together, but also that time and commitment are critical to both. Commitment follows true love. A deliberate effort made on your part to guard your time and commitment to the Lord is not being legalistic or to make Him love you more. It is so you would know Him and all that He purposes for your life. It is so your worship would be true. Ultimately though, it is that you would live for nothing short of what the Lord is due, His glory. 

Prayer

Lord, often the routine of life takes priority over our relationship with you. Even when these are good and noble things, it is still wrong. Forgive us. Thank you for being such a gracious God.  Help us to focus our attention on you above all things, thankful for all that you have done for us in Christ. It is in His name we pray. Amen.