The bedrock of our lives has been very shaky lately.
Have you felt the seismic shifts?
- On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states. Seen as a major victory for civil rights by some and as a final rejection of Christian values by others, this was a seismic shift for our nation. If you had any doubts, the Bible’s views of marriage, human sexuality, and, well, on just about everything, are no longer taken as the “Gospel truth.”
- On July 16, a gunman – a neighbor from one of our own subdivisions here in Hixson, perpetrated a horrific act of violence against military personnel. Chattanooga got added to a list of cities no one wants to be on – those touched by terrorism.
How do we continue to stand firm on such shaky ground? When values and security seem to be like shifting sands, how do we find firm footing. I don’t have all the answers, but here are some suggesions:
- Liberate yourself from expecting everyone to live by Christian values. Truth be known, America really hasn’t been a “Christian” nation for a few decades. Confidence in the Scriptures, the importance of Church, the belief that Jesus saves; these have all been waning in America. We can debate the causes and whether the Church is at fault or not. But most Americans no longer trust the church, believe the Bible, or are convinced that Jesus is the one and only way to God. I’m not even sure all church-goers believe it. So for those who follow Jesus, it is unreasonable to expect people who don’t follow Jesus to live and think and act as if they do. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:12 tells us it isn’t our job to judge non-believers. They don’t operate from the same framework. It is God’s job to convince and convict. Not ours.
- Refuse to live with hypocrisy in your own life. Jesus’ most wrathful words were not for sinners, but for religious leaders who hid their sinfulness behind the appearance of righteousness. He had no tolerance for them. It irked Him. We today have a tendency to do the same thing. We pick and choose the sins we want to rail against. Homosexual behavior is a sin. But so is adultery, greed, cheating, pre-marital sex, lying, gluttony, pride, drunkenness, stealing, laziness, not tithing; and I could go on and on. Where is our righteous indignation against those things? The point is Jesus wants us to be sanctified – a people truly touched and indwelt by the Holy Spirit which makes His own attributes a living reality in our lives. But if I tolerate attitudes and behaviors in my own life that are counter to His life in me, I thwart His work in me. This should not be the case among the followers of Jesus.
- When we insist on personal holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit, God does something powerful with the church. The church, historically, is at its best when it goes against the mainstream. It is time for the Church to embrace its role as a counter-culture revolution of the grace of Jesus Christ. We don’t have to bemoan that we’ve lost influence in our society. We just have to live faithful, unwavering lives of obedience to Jesus. Our influence didn’t come because we went to church. Our influence in history has always been about our commitment to follow Jesus whatever the cost, no mater what society said about us. It is a great time to be the church!
- And finally, we must learn to love better, even with people who disagree with us. Jesus boiled His movement down to two things, 1) Love God with all that you are; 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. We have to love the homosexual and the Muslim. We have to love the Democrat and the Republican. We have to love the faithful churchman and the next door neighbor who has never been to church. We have to genuinely respect and care, not just in words, and not just ignore them. We must find active ways to show people the love of Jesus by loving like Jesus. “He makes his sun to shine on the righteous and unrighteous alike.” (Matthew 5:45)
The world may be changing. But God is still God. Those who hear Him and obey are like a wise man who built his house on a rock. When the seismic shifts come, we stand firm on Him.