Unless you have lived under a social media rock, then its pretty easy to see that the church and our culture have clashed over the issue of gay marriage this week. I think that every other post on Facebook for the last 5 days has either been a picture of an equal sign, a rant about gay marriage, or a post poking fun at the situation.
I feel like supporters of gay marriage have been extremely aggressive and hostile this week. Those who disagree with their stance deserve no tolerance. In one conversation I had earlier this week I was told that “intolerance will not be tolerated”. The church has been vilified this week, we have been painted as hateful bigots, and the Bible, the base of our belief has been attacked. We have been labeled as the enemy.
This is not the first, nor the last time that the church and society’s views and values have or will clash, we have to learn how to respond to society in an appropriate way. The people of the secular society are not our enemy, so the key is not to fight with people. It’s to love them all the way back home. I’ve come up with a few things that I believe need to happen in the church so we can live out God’s call to take the gospel to the prodigal.
1. The unneeded division in the church has to die.
Here in Texas I’ve noticed a strange habit among believers that I personally have been extremely guilty of in the past. I feel that God has hammered me over this and brought me to repentance, we like to compare denominations, worship styles, and preachers, and then we talk about what is wrong with every single one of them. While there are some things that every Christian should have in common (Christ as our source of salvation, Jesus’ divinity, Biblical infallibility etc.) there are other arguments that have to die.
As Bible Belt church members we enjoy debating over music styles, Bible translations, the way we dress in church, and whether or not drinking beer is sinful. If you are a hardcore church attender you get together and debate about Calvinism or Armenian theology (predestination or free will). We group together by denominations and refrain from contact with any other believer who expresses their adoration for the same Jesus in a different way than we do. If we do come together we debate doctrine that has little to do with the rest of the Bible. In the end, after all of these debates, nobody has been brought closer to Jesus and we have done nothing more than ignore those who are far from Jesus.
If we want to see Jesus Christ made famous and the church restored to health, we have got to start coming together as a body. We cannot compromise our beliefs about salvation, and the cross, but we can agree to disagree on if we should use an organ, read from the NIV or ESV, and if preachers should wear a robe, suit or jeans. These things really don’t matter.
A kingdom divided against itself can’t stand, when I think of the American church, I think of a divided kingdom. This has to change. Lets quit debating about things that don’t matter and come together to worship the only King who does matter.
2. We need to take Jesus seriously.
With the sadness that exists in this world, be it racism, homelessness, abortion, and especially the huge amount of people who will be spending eternity in Hell if they don’t come to know Jesus Christ, its sad and peculiar how easy it is for us to wake up, go to school or work, come home and watch television, and continue on with our lives. Maybe our lack of action says more about our beliefs than our church attendance, Facebook statuses, and Christian t-shirts ever could. Maybe our lack of action says that we don’t really believe any of this at all.
I recently talked to a friend who runs sober houses for people who are trying to end drug and alcohol addictions, at this sober house they also share the gospel with these people. He told me about a family vacation that he had taken to Florida where they met a man who was an addict, loaded him onto their family van, and drove him back to Fort Worth so that he could get off of drugs. Upon returning they found that this gentleman was hostile to the gospel. While I talked to my friend about this whole situation, he seemed legitimately stoked that this was all going on and understood that there would be baby steps towards this man’s salvation. That’s what Christianity would look like if we really believed this whole thing. In the next conversation I had with him he asked if Lyndsi and I would want to come feed and pray with homeless people with him and his wife on the streets of Fort Worth sometime soon. I’m planning on taking him up on this offer.
If we really believe that Jesus who is fully God gave everything He gave for us, then we have no right to hold onto anything for ourselves. Our life belongs to Him and He wants to use it to reach His lost children. This is not a part time job or a hobby. Its a sold out, serious, life shattering commitment.
If we want to see the morality of this nation restored we’ve got to live like we believe that this whole thing is real. The last thing that the church needs is complacent, fake, political Christians who attend church with the sole intention of boosting their political credibility, making friends whose kids don’t cuss, or to debate secondary issues. If you claim Christ, live like it. Otherwise, call yourself an atheist or agnostic or something. This is something that I’ve felt challenged on lately in my own personal walk.
3. Quit putting down sinners and start magnifying Jesus Christ.
I have strong disdain for the holy huddle. The holy huddle is the scientific term for Christians who get together in groups and talk about how great they are at practicing their faith, how much they love their church, and complaining about how sinful everyone around them is. These people are great at tearing down other people and making themselves look great. Generally, the holy huddlers are terrified of sinful people and retreat to their homes and huddle shaking in their living rooms. They may occasionally serve with their church, but outside of their church’s walls or their church community their lives look no different than the kind agnostic family down the street, but the agnostics actually are kind to people.
If we are so concerned with the sin of others, we need to remember that we were at one point as evil as the rest of the world. Whether our sin was killing puppies, or legalistic thinking, we all once walked according to our sinful desires and were made right by Jesus Christ. If we are so concerned with the sinfulness of the world around us then we should take them to Jesus Christ. He came to the earth, bore sin on the cross, and in doing so made the sin of all believers null and void. He took our sin upon himself and died for us. Then three days later he rose again.
4. Don’t lose hope.
Three days later He rose again. Three days later, He rose again. Can you catch that? Death couldn’t handle Him. We serve a God who is bigger than sin, stronger than demons, and who destroyed and vanquished our iniquity. We have no reason to feel that evil will prevail if Jesus Christ rose again. He’s our only hope. With that hope I can gladly say ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS! There’s a world that needs Christ, we have the answer. We have to share it.