Building Bridges or Throwing Grenades?

comboLast Friday when our Supreme Court issued a ruling that legalized same-sex marriage throughout our country, many Christians, like me, felt a real sense that we have lost our ‘home.’  The myth of the “Christian” nation probably never was true, but in the past there was a collective consciousness of the Bible’s teaching and from the first our society was inarguably shaped by the values of the Scripture. That culture is gone, and it started to erode a long time ago.  Friday’s ruling just made it clear that the United States has changed, something Christians have known for a while but somehow managed to deny. All the polls and reports for the past 10 years have exposed the shift in attitudes about the place of God and organized Christianity in our lives. One fourth of Americans, when asked about their religious preference choose “none.”   In 2014 alone, 7.5 million left church behind. One third of Americans reported that they never go to a religious service of any kind. “Spiritual” is not defined by knowing God or espousing a faith, but instead by having humanitarian values. A majority of Americans reject the claim that absolute truth is found in Scripture. So, should we be surprised, at all, by this decision? Probably not, but it one that touched a nerve, going deep into our hearts and minds.

So, how shall we who are Christians live in these changing times? More than ever before, we need to examine our lives, close the gap between what we profess to believe and our practice, and pray to be filled with the character of Jesus Christ.  Fear and anger will not serve us or our Lord well! I watched Facebook explode with comments. (Yes, I shared a few, too!)  Some were thoughtful, part of a useful dialogue. Many were not. They were more like emotional hand grenades lobbed in the direction of those considered ‘the enemy.’ They were explosive and destructive, the work of people who are afraid.

Throwing grenades is a lot easier than engaging in thoughtful conversation. A grenade can be launched from the safety of a place behind the lines. A verbal grenade does not require any contact. It feels good to toss one out there and see things blow up.  “That’s one for the Lord,” we think proudly. Really, friend? Is that the best way to win the hearts and minds of others? How well do you respond to attack, accusation, and criticism? When we use tactics that force others into a defensive posture we make interaction almost impossible.

So, do I believe that there is ‘truth,’ that God has spoken and revealed absolutes about the moral choices we make?
Yes, I do, absolutely! Learning from the example of Jesus, I also know that people must be loved, met at their point of need, their trust and respect earned by humility and service, before I can talk about the issues of their heart! Jesus generally approached others with offers of acceptance, understanding and lifting them up, before speaking to their sin. He saw a man up a tree named Zacchaeus, a cheat and a crook, but He did not ‘call him out’ by naming his sin. He asked, instead, to have dinner with that little man. Jesus’ willingness to eat with him scandalized the respectable Jews.

When a woman who was having an adulterous affair was dragged in front of Jesus for judgment, He did not point out her moral failings, though they were obvious to all. There were no scathing words about her shamelessness, or her failure to understand the consequences of her choices, or her lack of character.  Instead, He offered her dignity. And, then He did say, “Now, go and sin no more.”  His worst critics lobbed this grenade – “He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of the worst sort of sinners!” (Lk 7:34)  His answer to them? “The Son of Man came to find and restore the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

Paul instructs us to engage ourselves not in grenade tossing but in bridge building. He calls it ‘the ministry of reconciliation.’ As you begin this new week, secure your heart in the love of Jesus, the grace He gives us that takes away our fear. Then, take this word from the Word and get in touch with those who are alienated from God and bring them home!

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. . . . Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.  . . . if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:10-21, NIV)

With deep reverence for Christ we shape up, are made new, and reach out to invite others to join us in pursuing the living, loving God who makes all things new. What a great message of hope for our troubled times.
____________________

This Is Amazing Grace

 

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?

Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?

The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

 

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder?

Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?

The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

 

This is amazing grace.

This is unfailing love.

That You would take my place,

That You would bear my cross.

You laid down Your life,

That I would be set free.

Oh Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

 

Who brings our chaos back into order?

Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?

The King of Glory, the King of Glory.

 

Who rules the nations with truth and justice,

Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?

The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

 

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.

Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.

Worthy, worthy, worthy.

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham

© 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

Seems Like Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

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