In an effort to regain some balance I want to put the other foot down on my communicating about where we are in America now. I feel like we are those who Peter writes to in the dispersion. We have a two-fold mission and I do not want to communicate that while we do not raise the capital for our morals, we also do not roll over and be silenced.
In fact the refrain from silence is our very calling. But I think this is pretty difficult. See the argument usually goes we should be accepting to everyone because Jesus ate with sinners. We should therefore not judge and therefore be kind and loving. The issue is that these are all true. We have to refrain from being silent on what the Bible has spoken and love and eat with sinners.
The challenge comes when we do not see that ending well without giving in on one end or the other. We do not know how to eat with sinners while keeping the testimony. We either just decide to eat with sinners and give way to the world’s definition of love. Or we take up a position of never desiring to eat with those who would destroy our Christian America and that is why we can be demonstrated to be bigots.
When we do these we have different end goals from Jesus. Jesus wanted the restoration of their souls, the regeneration of new birth, this is why he would and could eat with sinners because he had a greater end goal: bringing them into true relationship with God. If we think our goal is the restoration of morals or the fight of evil then how could we possibly eat with the enemy?
If our goal is simply to love the world then it makes sense to distance ourselves from all that repenting stuff also, because our end goal is still wrong. It may just be worldly peace we seek, but true peace with God is what we are after. God wants us to both sit with sinners and tell them that forgiveness is at the door. The difference is we have a culture that doesn’t as easily buy into those terms anymore. So it may actually take more dinners, more conversations, but the relationships that will ultimately develop still have to be grounded in the point: the need for forgiveness. The time in the trenches will be longer for sure but fidelity to the Word and integrity is still of utter import.
Now there is a class that doesn’t like this because they say it is manipulative. “I just want to be friends with the world and win them with love” Ok, good, but when we do not ground our purpose in Jesus’ call to return then we end up replacing the method of the evangelism with he point of it. Paul teaches us “Do not be deceived bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33) If we are not actively influencing towards God then we may just be the ones being influenced towards an enimic Gospel. I like the episode with Jesus and the crowds after he fed them from John 6.
The crowds, after yet again seeing Jesus feed them and display his power, wanted to take him and make him King by force. Jesus however understanding their intentions withdrew, the next day the people again come to him wanting bread. Jesus hiked up his language to make his point. Coming to him meant eating his flesh and drinking blood. They had to feast on his life in order to find it themselves. Now Jesus was not clueless about the effect this would have on his hearers. He drove those away whom he was establishing a relationship with because the nature of the relationship they were believing they had with him was wrong.
God does not simply desire more people to pay him lip service. Jesus wants followers who understand the price paid for the relationship. God defines his love for us: while we were still sinners he died for us. We have to understand that our natures and our behaviors required a death. The sinners that Jesus happily ate with and followed him were those who understood who he was and what he was telling them. They wanted that eternal life-giving water. That life giving bread of his flesh because they knew their lives were bankrupt. They wanted that Kingdom that required repenting. Tax collectors stopped cheating, the sexually immoral stopped their whoring, the cheaters and liars all had to stop and come. Paul says it this way.
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed,you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
When we think we are being loving by not judging or by conveniently ignoring that repenting aspect of the Gospel, this Paul says, is us being deceived. With the missing element of a confrontation of the reality of our situation before God all our loving into the kingdom does is increase our Facebook count. We are to speak the truth in love, not speak love without truth.
Part of the issue for us is with mass media as it is now we see more of the feedback of our actions. We are able to witness that Jesus was right, actually people do hate it when Christians try to live and share the Gospel out in culture. We can finally see that the feedback to actually preaching the Gospel is offence. Unfortunately some have decided that the offense of the gospel is a deterrent to God when it is actually the very ticket of entry. They capitulate on sins so as to mitigate the offense. When we do not remember that Jesus himself told us that the world hated him because he told them their deeds were evil (John 7:7) and that we would be hated like he was, we end up undermining the Gospel.
The truth is that being a light has always meant we were surrounded by darkness. It is just that the American countryside has deceptively shined with what we thought was a waxing sun but in reality is was truly in the wane. As the sun goes down our lights either get brighter or they reveal the faulty wiring and slowly fade with culture into the darkness. We have to both respect and pray for our leaders and call the people back to God. We also have to remember though, that the call home is an invitation not a demand. This is why we do not raise the capital or fight for the land’s laws to mirror the Bibles, voice your opinion, stick to the Word of God, but remember living in a pro-Gospel America may simply not be a luxury we have anymore. We still have to be faithful among the poor ratings from the people of the country.
The only thing we remind the government of is their occupation, which is supposed to be justice. This is why abortion should be championed against, a life is lost every time. When Governments drop the ball on justice the people should speak out. But moral change is a heart issue and hearts are changed by God. I would rather give my time to fight for souls through the gospel.
So eat with sinners, and take a stand, go tell it on the mountain, but do not lose heart and retreat when you find that the mountain dwellers are hostile. They were always hostile, we all need the Gospel and that it the point.