Sunday, June 28, 2009

Unrepentant Defiance


It's been such an eventful week. I finally felt well enough myself to return to teaching my Sunday school class. We've been in the book of Romans for the past few months. Today, my class was combined with another one for the summer months. To bring the new people up to speed, I dieseled through my introduction to the book, and then summarized Romans 1-8 in 45 minutes. In the course of summarizing Romans 1 at the beginning, a train of thought began running in my head -- so much so that I had to make a blog post about it.

When you read Romans 1, and the way it describes the complete and utter unrighteousness of fallen man, it is (or ought to be) a real eye-opener. In light of biblical truth -- completely unvarnished -- about how low mankind can fall, why are we amazed when a wicked world acts wickedly?

American Christians these days seem to do a lot of handwringing about how the culture at large responds to us. What if the Gospel were presented this way? What if Christians did this or that in trying to reach the culture? Christians are so misunderstood. If the culture only knew the truth. Why does society hate Christians so much? If we just did such and such, they'd understand and react differently to us.

Let's assume that the celebrities who passed away this week (Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Gail Storm, Billy Mays, etc) could return from the dead to testify to the eternity that awaits all of us — either with the Lord or separated from Him. What kind of difference would it make? Scripture has a few things to say about the world and its attitude. First, the Lord Himself discussed the possibility of Lazarus coming back from the dead to warn people about Hell . . .

But He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead' (Luke 16:21).

What if the world got a clear picture of the judgment that awaited its wickedness? Again, Scripture has something to say . . .

. . . and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds (Revelation 16:11).

Interesting. Instead of pleas for forgiveness, instead we get defiance and clenched fists. And that's not all. The Lord Jesus had even more to say about the world and its attitude toward the truth . . .

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.

If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.

But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE'
(John 15:18, 24-25).

Sounds like the world has an attitude problem, doesn't it?

Of course, this doesn't mean that God is not still drawing men, women and children to Himself out of the midst of this God-hating culture. He most certainly is. And He does this through the "foolishness of preaching." We still have the Great Commission to carry out until He returns for His own. Some will receive the Gospel. Others will reject it. And that includes celebrities.

But let's quit being amazed when the world -- including comedians and celebrities -- mock Christians and the church. Let's stop being so flabbergasted when people reject the message, sometimes with open hostility. In the immortal words of Captain Louis Renault, let's stop being "shocked. . . shocked" when people take the precise attitude Jesus warned us they would take.

Christians aren't in this world to win popularity contests. By all means, we are to be winsome and windows to the love of Christ. But we are also to be uncompromising in the truth. And that alone will be very, very unpopular with a whole lot of people.

That's just the way it is.

4 comments:

lee n. field said...

"For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." The Romans 1-3 thing again -- depravity and the suppression of the knowledge of God.

And, of course, mutiple passages that speak of us as "strangers and sojourners, seeking a better country". We don't belong here, not until "here" means the new heavens and new earth. Our position in this era is akin to exiled Israel in Babylon, commanded to settle in and pray for the peace of the city of their exile.

(Which is why I cringe when I hear people invoke "if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." -- We are not in the typological Israelite theocracy, and America has no special claim on God or special exemption. Just another country.)

>What if the Gospel were presented this way? What if Christians did this or that in trying to reach the culture?

Are we wiser than God?

Randy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Randy said...

Joel,

I had posted about Michael Jackson. Even though I think Christians need to show more compassion, I hasten to add that never at the expense of true doctrine.

That's why I have a big problem with Schuller, Hybels and the rest that use this "seeker friendly" junk. Bottom line is this: You can try to make a sinner comfortable in a church setting, but a man still has to repent of his sins and accept Christ for salvation.

The world hates God, simple enough. You know as well as I do that anyone that comes to Christ can only do it by the pure mercy and grace of the Lord himself. I'm more than tired of "dressing" up the church to make it palatable to the sinners. God basically says you'll come his way or no way.

Unfortunately I have some that I know that have fallen into this "seeker" mentality. I have to give grace though as they are new in the faith. Hopefully as the Word is written upon their hearts they will see that this "movement" doesn't really work.

Randy

Solameanie said...

Amen, guys.