I want to field a question that has come up about my theological perspectives. Yes it is true that I’m bothered by much that we call “Christianity” in the United States, especially within the realm of institutionalized religion.
(Note I’m speaking about the “church” at large, not a particular one… there are still many great churches. Grace Chapel, where I attend, is amazing. I’m using a broad stroke here for the purposes of illustration)
The modern day church has become a bastion of complacency and secularism masked under a garb of self-righteousness and pseudo-holiness. Its membership has far too many who claim affinity with Christianity but who divorce themselves from the genuine pursuit of God, of holiness… people who claim the title of Christian but who refuse to live like Jesus, loving their neighbor and pointing the way to forgiveness, hope, and restoration from a loving God who gave all for the purpose of relationship with us, coupled with forgiveness of our sins and a new chance at eternal life.
This lukewarm, comfortable pseudo-Christianity has potentially done more harm than good to the message of Jesus Christ and the hope He gives. Self-righteousness, hypocrisy, judgementalism… these are the same sins of our current diluted gospel that Jesus condemned in the scribes and religious leaders of His own day and era. There needs to be a return to the fundamental purpose and plan of God… to love the world, to show them the hope found in Jesus, to lead them back to a loving God who wants eternal relationship with them, and to help them grow in the love and holiness of God.
If the church fails to stand for the moral will and purpose of God, if they fail to love and offer forgiveness like Jesus, and if they promote and politicize their “religion” (or denomination or denominational beliefs) at the cost of reaching a dying, hurting world with a message of hope and transformation, we are truly broken, off-purpose and in the wrong, and should stand ashamed in front of our great God.
That said, my position has always been, and will continue to be, that of God’s position. He created all things, all things were made to give Him glory, and He creates the moral absolutes that our world functions within. Anything outside of that perfect moral will of God is the definition of sin. When I continue to encourage people to ignore the hypocrisy of institutionalized religion and focus on the message of forgiveness offered through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on a rough wooden cross, 2,000 years ago, it is not to offer a diluted new religion of “hey, as long as you are saved from your sins, you can do what you want and be OK”.
There is a moral, spiritual imperative that we who claim affinity and relationship with Jesus Christ walk as He walked, live and serve as He did, and point people back to the Father. There is no freedom to gain the “fire insurance” of salvation in and of itself without the cost of discipleship and submission to God. Salvation is a free gift, and available for any of us, even in the point of our greatest sin. Forgiveness, hope… immediately ours through Jesus Christ. But a life lived as a follower of Jesus does not end at that point of forgiveness and salvation… it only starts there.
Jesus Himself acknowledged that He came to bring division (Matthew 10:34, Luke 12:51). There is a necessary division between a follower of Jesus Christ and the rest of the secular, unregenerate world. There is a greater call to Holiness, a willingness to be transformed by God the Father into a mirror of His Son, Jesus. There is a gradual breaking-away from the things that the world holds as true and right and an increasing need and desire to cling to the things of God and His plan, His purpose, and His will. While we don’t undertake the transformation of our lives ourselves, that is God’s work in our lives, we have to maintain an attitude of willingness to learn and change.
A predicate to living our lives to the glory of God is our willingness to obey His moral law and work within His eternal plan and will. Jesus addresses this at least twice that I can think of. In John 14:15, Jesus says “If you love Me, obey My commandments.” Again in John 14:23 He says, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them.”
This recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage has caused a firestorm in our country, continuing this horrible divide that is growing wider in US culture. I have been criticized for my vocal stance against this. The question “what does it matter to you, can’t you just let people love each other and live how they want” has come up more than once.
To that argument, I can only offer this: My position in this current generation isn’t the popular one. I can content myself with that, having already decided that faithfulness to God is of greater importance to me than popularity. Our country needs to know that this isn’t about the emotionalism of the decision. Certainly, truth is not based on emotions… emotions are a bad barometer for truth, given how easily and flippantly they change. There is an absolute truth, given to us by a perfectly moral, loving God, that supersedes our emotional response to this issue. And people need to know that.
I do not stand in judgement of any person. Like the apostle Paul, I see myself as among the greatest of sinners, freed by a great God whose sacrificial death and resurrection has atoned for these sins and given me a chance to start over with the hope of eternity in the backdrop. But people need to know truth. They need to know that there is a loving God who created a better way for them. That the emotional holes that tear at them on the inside can only be filled by an eternally bonded relationship with the God of all. That this isn’t all there is to life, and our temporary happiness is not the end goal, but eternity itself is at stake. So much more than the 70 or 80 years of life here on earth can offer.
And my real issue is with the apostatized church that is encouraging this behavior by undermining the integrity of the word of God and speaking permissibly about a lifestyle that the bible states with all certainty and conviction as wrong. Cover to cover, there is no wiggle room or allowance for other understanding or reading of God’s stance on homosexuality. We who know God and His word are held to a higher level of accountability than most. It is our spiritual charge to teach God’s word, law and will in love, to lead people back to the cross of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and to “go into all the world, making disciples of all men, teaching them to obey”, which were Jesus’ final words of command before He left this earth.
If we cave under societal pressure at such a critical juncture, if we fail to teach truth and moral imperative in love, if we acquiesce to avoid scrutiny or uncomfortableness, and if we pander to sin, we have failed the church, we have failed God, and worse yet, we have failed our country and the people who (knowingly or not) are dependent upon us for being shown the reality and love of God and leading them back to Him.
One last thought: What I’ve written applies to more than only the topic of homosexuality. There are no hierarchies of sin in God’s economy. All sin resulted in the death of Jesus on the Cross, and all sin is equally abhorrent to God. All sin makes us guilty before Him and all sin can be forgiven through Jesus. I am not demonizing a subset of the population to the exclusion of others. This message applies ubiquitously and should be taught equally in the church. This supreme court decision has only been a catalyst for illumination of this one particular issue.
Jesus’ message to those He healed was “go and sin no more”. At the foot of the cross is forgiveness, hope, purpose and eternal acceptance into the family of God. Accept that gift today, beloved. Be joined forever into an eternal dance with the perfect God of all, forever accepted and forever made right. Allow His Spirit to work changes inside of you, molding you, shaping you into the likeness of Jesus.
Drop the charades and the false pretenses and be healed, restored, and made new. Then walk in the holiness of God and be a light to the people around you, leading them to the same cross of Salvation and to the same great God. Let your life count and matter for all eternity, for the glory of Jesus Christ.