The doctor came into the exam room. “Hi, Minister. How’s the religion business?” I winced at his joke, but his next words made me squirm. “You’re one of those ‘I’m against everything people,’ aren’t you?” I know he was kidding me but the stereotype of evangelical Christians is not funny, nor is it often accurate. How did evangelicals come to be known as being against everything? We are called to live counter-culturally.
The great ‘sin’ in secular America is to be to hold standards, to believe that there is God to whom we are accountable, and that there are still choices to be made about what is right and wrong. We have returned to the moral chaos of the ancient land of Israel in which “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) Christians who love Scripture know that they do not own themselves, that they cannot claim absolute freedom, and that they must seek God respecting His will, regardless of personal cost. And that, dear friend, is an idea that is completely foreign to the modern secular mind.
Watching the political speeches of the last two weeks reveals how much work that Christians who love God and His Word have to do. There are glaring inconsistencies along the entire spectrum of American political thought.
- The ‘pro-life’ people insists on protection of the unborn, rightly so! At the same time, they fail to question ever bigger armies and the blatantly unjust application of the death penalty. How can one claim to be for life while urging a culture of death?
- One party makes much of protecting the freedoms of individuals to do whatever they desire in their private lives. At the same time that party seeks to censor the expression of anyone with strong moral convictions. Their message is that a person can believe whatever he wants, as long as he keeps God out of it.
- A majority of Evangelicals identify readily with a party that says it will support some of their moral convictions, but at the same time fails to engage in a real conversation about the best ways for our government to care for the least, the weak, the poor; a theme that is basic to Jesus’ message.
Into this moral mess, Christian voices are to speak with wisdom, with discernment.
Easy? No way. People to whom God gives His Spirit and Word are too often known for slogans, simple-mindedness, and being those ‘I’m against everything’ people. The caricature may be overdrawn but it is not undeserved!
Christians need to work harder at being thoughtful, known for their love for God and others. We can have strong moral convictions and still love people. When we express a pro-life position let’s put it into the context of care, offering to support women who find themselves in a desperate situation. Yes, in the end, we cannot waver and speaking for life will offend some. When we take the position of supporting the marriage of a man and woman, which is right and moral, let’s make certain we are compassionate for those who are homosexual, understanding the difference between who a person is and what a person does. The issue of human sexuality is much too complex for a simple slogan. Saying things like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” is not funny, nor helpful. It is a special kind of ignorant!
In the end, no matter how loving we may be, no matter how accepting of people we are, no matter how much we work at making our message and practices consistent – as followers of Jesus we must be prepared to be despised. Please do not use Jesus’ words as an excuse to be needlessly offensive, but when you find yourself at a place of irreconcilable difference, accept the disdain with joy!
After calling us to love the poor, to lose ourselves in service, to be humble and meek, Jesus says – “Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” (Matthew 5:11-12, The Message)
Here is a word from Word. “If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. “When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. “They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me.” (John 15:18-25, The Message)
Shine, Jesus, Shine
Lord, the light of Your love is shining,
In the midst of the darkness shining.
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us,
Set us free by the truth You now bring us.
Shine on me, shine on me.
As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
So our faces display Your likeness,
Ever changing from glory to glory.
Mirrored here, may our lives tell Your story.
Shine on me, shine on me.
Shine, Jesus, shine!
Fill this land with the Father’s glory!
Blaze, Spirit, blaze!
Set our hearts on fire!
Flow, river, flow!
Flood the nations with grace and mercy!
Send forth Your word, Lord,
And let there be light!
Graham Kendrick © 1987 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
CCLI License # 810055