Do you, like me, find yourself puzzled by the world in which we live? Though I work at being patient and try to understand, so much of the world I which I live is beyond my comprehension these days. One of those is the growing self-hatred of so many who claim to love Jesus. The purity, the holiness, the love for life’s sacredness, the wonderful bonds of marriage, and so much more, are not only held in contempt by much of the world, but even those who are in Christ. To work at being ‘good,’ earns the epithet of hypocrisy. To hold to the Bible’s standard for moral purity earns scorn – not just from guys like Bill Maher, but tragically too often from our Christian brothers and sisters. How did wrong turn to right, the pursuit of God become something reviled?
I am aware that our time is an era of epic changes in public policy and private morality. However, I also know that I serve a God who is unchanging, who gave us His wisdom, which we disregard to our own peril. I fully understand that change is the only constant in life. We must learn and adapt or perish. However, when Christians substitute ‘what I think is right’ for the eternal Truths, one things is absolutely true – the world is in a desperate place.
In response to all of the change and to those who attack the Church, God’s Word, and holiness I will NOT become a ‘culture warrior.’ I will not carry signs in the street that condemn people who make choices that I know are morally wrong. I will not preach angry sermons that warm the fires of judgment. I won’t even argue at length with those who claim to be my brothers and sisters yet despise the Word and Lord I serve.
It is not fear that holds my tongue; it is grace. I have no need to compromise everything that I believe to find acceptance. I am convinced from the depths of my being that truth can only be told in love, not the ‘phony smile on my face with contempt in my heart’ kind of love, but a Jesus-style kind of love that sees the person first.
Jesus’ encounters with people who were sinning rarely included condemnation. He met them with love, went to their homes for dinner, and won their hearts before He addressed their behavior. It’s a good model for us when we are confused, besieged, or angry. In a time when friends and family are torn apart by differences of world view, when our ideas and politics seem only to be expressed in stark black and white, when we only shout – we must renew our grasp of His call to peace.
Peace not require us to adopt every new idea or to compromise our principles for the sake of ‘getting along.’ Peace does require that we always see people first, then their ideas, so that we will treat them with respect which is God’s desire for us.
Here is how Jesus describes our influence … “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:13-17, NIV)
Both salt and light do what they do by being present – not by destroying or overwhelming. Salt changes the flavor and was used, mostly in times past, as a preservative that kept food from rot. Are we functioning in ways that are loving, sacrificial, and serving that are preserving life? Light always dispels darkness. Darkness cannot overcome light. Even a tiny candle continues to shine in a warehouse full of darkness.
Are you, like me, feeling the weight of a world gone wrong? Do the attacks that come leave you wanting to push back? James, the pastor of First Church in Jerusalem, teaches us how to face hostility. “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” (James 3:13-17, NLT)
In these days before one of the most divisive elections in my memory, when all manner of issues are up for debate, I pray that those who love Jesus will first choose peace. Before you post an inflammatory statement on Facebook ask “Does this reflect wisdom? Does it promote peace? Is it gentle? Does it show mercy?” Before we sound off about ‘those people’ (whomever that may be to us) we need to pray for true wisdom that is best shown in an honorable life, in goodness that flows out of humility!
Here is a profound word from the Word for us. May we hear it and be shaped by the wisdom of God. “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (Matthew 5:9, The Message)
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, The Message)
Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my rest.
And without You, I fall apart,
You’re the one that guides my heart.
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You!
Ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You.
Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more.
Where grace is found, is where You are.
And where You are, Lord, I am free.
Holiness is Christ in me!
So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way.
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You,
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.
Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher © 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055