Friday, September 30, 2011

Holy, Just Like Everybody Else

In my last post I said that when God saves people, the Holy Spirit will begin to transform their lives. We call this "regeneration." The fruit of our salvation is that we begin to love His Word, embrace His statutes, and yearn for righteousness.

Why do you suppose He wants us to change? I believe His intention is to set His Bride apart from the rest of the world (1 Pet 2.9; Tit 2.14). In fact, that's basically what holiness means: to be "set apart" or consecrated for a single purpose (*1). Righteousness is the identifying mark of Christianity. We strive to obey the Ten Commandments because we love God and want to honor Him with our actions. We obey the Great Commission because our ransomed life belongs to Him.

But what of those who are not (yet) saved? Are they called to the same standards we are? Is it wrong for non-christians to cuss? To listen to secular music? To get drunk? To be attracted to the same sex? Given, I do believe God built into this world natural consequences to any lifestyle. But the ultimate consequence--eternal condemnation--is reserved for only one sin: Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

It's hard to be a Christian in America, where the Church looks just like the rest of the world. Sure, the Church hates some of the things God hates, but does our sense of morality come from our faith or from our culture? For a lot of us, I think it comes from our culture. The model that we measure ourselves up against is the status of a middle-class conservative republican, and as long as we conform close enough to that image, we pat ourselves on the back and think God's happy with us. Then pretty soon after embracing American morality, we decide to embrace American consumerism, American relativism, American gluttony, and American tolerance along with it. In this country, the Church and the world have so conformed to each other that they are almost indistinguishable (*2).

What's really mind-boggling to me though, is why on earth Christianity would want the unsaved to be more moral. We'll fight to the death to hang the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and keep homosexual marriage illegal, but to what end? Even if we got our way and subsequently atheists were to quit all the "bad things" in their lives, they would still die without Christ and go to hell for their one predominating sin of unbelief.

What matters more: Convincing sinners to stop sinning or convincing them that Jesus endured God's wrath for their sin and died in their place?




Somewhere along the line, Christians developed the reputation of being closed-minded, homophobic, racist, progress-hating bigots. That's a far reach from Jesus' message of "Love your enemies," and "Turn the other cheek!" I think we somehow have it in our heads that if we can make our political system into a big pseudo-church-government (*3) then more people will get saved.

False.

The Church flourishes most when Christianity is outlawed! When we pray for revival to sweep through our nation, are we ready to see God turn America over to her lusts and impurity (Ro 1.24-28) so that the Church might again stand as a city on a hill? Consider that if we are to be a light in the darkness, then the darker the world gets, the brighter the Church shines. Where do all the stars go during the day? They're still there, but we can't see them because there's too much competing light. Likewise, America can't see the Truth of the Gospel because we have too much morality and deism competing for the position of truth! Will we just give it up already? The world doesn't need the Ten Commandments any more than then an infant needs a wedding dress. Grow up first, then start thinking about your identity. There's no sense in handing sheep costumes to wolves.

If God rescues a person, the rest will follow. But oh dear Church, we have to stop trying to change people without the Gospel! We're just making it harder on ourselves and on our children to differentiate between Christianity and moral deism. It isn't America's responsibility to be set apart. It is the Church's mandate to be set apart!

“You are the light of the world. 
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 
Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, 
but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, 
so that they may see your good works 
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." 
-Matthew 5.13-16





Footnotes:
*1 - קָדַשׁ, Kadesh. See Strong's 1190
*2 - In fact, most third-world countries see "America" and "Christianity" as one in the same. Missionaries are constantly having to battle this belief.
*3 - Read: Theocracy. Let's ask East Africa how that's working out for them.

2 comments:

  1. Isn't love the identifying factor of being a Christian (John 13:35)? Not that righteousness isn't important (Jesus made it clear that it was throughout the Sermon on the Mount) but as THE thing that He wanted His disciples known for, that seems to be our love.

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  2. Yeah, you're right. Jesus said we will be known by our love. That's a really good point. Although, if we define righteousness as simply obeying the word of God, then loving one another is part of righteousness. And the other element of righteousness--refraining from sin--from what I gather, has the same purpose: setting us apart as people of God.

    So I think love and righteousness go hand in hand and are inseparable in the Christian faith. (1 Tim 6.11; 2 Tim 2.22; 1 Jn 3.10)

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