Sabbatical Reflections (1): Colliding with the World: Love, and Truth.
As I am trying to get caught up at work I figured I'd take a time out to begin to publish some of my reflections from the sabbatical with my family. I think over the coming weeks/months I will publish a reflection a week. After you read this post, you'll see why I can't fit them all in one place.
Also for those of you who faithfully read what I write; I plan to begin to finish up Edwards' Resolutions by working through the remainder of them starting next week. Also, I will pick back up on blogging through the book of Revelation next week, Lord willing. Thanks for your patience and for sticking around. I have been surprised and grateful to God at how the readership of this blog has grown over 2020.
Now, none of what you're going to see here is new information, nor is any of it earth-shattering, but it is where my thoughts have been and I hope to expound on why in an effective manner.
Reflection: The church should collide with the world, not hide from the world.
Bonus points for rhyming.
Now, allow me to explain. Christians are not separatists, nor should they be. The visible church is made up of believers and unbelievers (wheat and tares) and we, therefore, collide weekly with unbelievers and thus are not separatists. However, the implications of our Christianity should also collide with the professing unbelieving and hostile world. We don't have permission from God to cower and hide hoping to do so until the coast is clear. We aren't waiting for some secret rapture I don't care what Tim Layhae says.
We are ambassadors. And who are we to be ambassadors to if not to those who hate God (Romans 1:30)?
And by ambassadors, I don't just mean evangelism (although I do mean evangelism too). I mean ambassadors in that we are to speak to and demonstrate what it's like to live in God's world. In our evangelism, we are calling people to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He is the King. He is sitting at the right hand of God. He is ruling. He is reigning. And He won't return until all enemies are made His footstool (Psalm 110:1). That Jesus died to make sinners right with God. He died and resurrected so that sinners could be forgiven. This is fundamentally important, however, we are disobedient if we aren't fulfilling the whole Great Commission which includes a Trinitarian baptism and teaching disciples to obey all that Christ has commanded in light of His finished work and His exaltation.
Obeying all that Christ has commanded is what can get us in trouble. Obeying all that Christ has commanded is what gets you canceled. It gets you in trouble (or canceled) because not only are you proclaiming the exclusivity of Christ as Savior for the forgiveness of sins (which is quite controversial enough), but you are saying there is also a standard for how you live.
I've watched Christians and Christian pastors for that matter play into this type of 'ministry' that says and does the least amount of truth-telling possible in order to get worldly, hostile, God-hating people into some kind of heaven that doesn't exist with a god that doesn't exist. This mentality of 'we don't speak to this or that because it will hinder our ability to share the basic tenants of the gospel' is rubbish (and I mean that in the Pauline sense of the word). In reality, what is happening is disobedience and cowardice masked in a counterfeit virtue. And we love to seem virtuous in this unvirtuous culture. We even post pictures and write status updates to flaunt how virtuous we are.
In reality, though, we are not obeying Christ and His commission if we do not engage with all the elements of the Great Commission. So let's not pretend that we are.
There is a standard for how God's world functions and we are obligated to submit to it and communicate it regardless of the cost and regardless of how we feel. Jesus said there will be trouble (John 16:33). So, we should believe Jesus and stop acting surprised or offended when we encounter trouble. We all know this standard Christ has called us to has tremendous and costly ramifications.
It has costly ramifications for how we define love for instance. Love is a word that has been abused by ill-informed, worldly influenced Christians (at best) and hijacked and redefined by the culture to progress some of the most heinous acts imaginable (at worst: Think LGBTQ). The way the word love has been stripped and hollowed out is wildly blasphemous considering that God is love (1 John 4). If God is love and God is holy, we need to tremble with a fear of God every time we use that word. We don't get to use that word arbitrarily. We don't get to hijack the definition of that biblical word. And as Christians, we don't play loose and fast with the word or allow imposter definitions of it to slide by.
Love is holy which means love has a commitment to the unchanging God of the Cosmos who all men will give an account to and who is described as a Consuming Fire and has an unshakeable kingdom. Behold your God.
So in light of that, what does love look like at the street level?
Love is grounded in truth. Which means that we must be a people committed to the truth. And just as our Triune God is love, Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, called Himself the Truth (John 14:6). God is love. God is truth. This means that truth is holy just like love, and it's Christo-centric. Therefore, Christ and His Kingdom should be the tip of the spear. This means we cannot tolerate or contribute to lies no matter the pressure we get from worldly members of the visible church or the unbelieving culture because it has gospel ramifications.
So how are we to be committed to truth? Again, Christians aren't separatists. The Bible wasn't written in some parallel universe that does not collide with ours. We are to be truthful people. From the top to bottom. We aren't allowed to bury our heads in the sand on issues regarding this culture and world because we think that will exempt us from speaking what is true. We are accountable to God.
Knowing what is true and what isn't true is a Christian's responsibility. And as we know and grow in our understanding of what is and isn't true, it is our responsibility to open our mouths in a loving, gospel-centered way and proclaim truth. It is also our responsibility to live truthfully.
In today's society (and even in our church) speaking what is true and living truthfully has fallen on hard times. May God raise up men and women committed to the Great Commission, committed to love and truth.
We are not separatists. We engage the visible church and we engage our society and we proclaim- 'Jesus is Lord, come and have your sins forgiven, be baptized and submit yourself to how God's Word says the world is to function'.