Relationships require sacrifice. And sacrifice can only mean something when it costs us something.Read More
Advent is a season that leads us up to the birth of Christ. It helps us focus on the important parts of this time of year. In part 1 of this series, we take a look at the first Sunday of Advent, which is all about hope.Read More
I’ve only recently become a father. My little girl was born last October, and she’s grown tremendously in the last 8 months. Watching her grow and develop from a tiny, crying newborn to a babbling, crawling ball of energy has been a dizzying journey. My role as a father to my little girl has taught me several things about the nature of God and my relationship with him.Read More
The big news today is the Supreme Court’s ruling that all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, may legally marry in every state across the nation. The issue of gay marriage has been a divisive issue in our nation. It’s more or less been Christians against everyone else. I’ve heard a lot of comments and opinions on both sides of the issue, and now that the matter has been settled in the legal system, here are some things that Christians need to remember and understand about our response to something like gay marriage.
The U.S.A. is not a Christian nation.
I hate to tell some of you, but the United States is not a Christian nation. I’ve heard countless times that this is a Christian nation and it’s one nation under God and we need to put God back in schools and everything else. Let’s get some facts straight. The United States is not nor has it ever been a Christian country. Christianity just happened to be the majority religion for a large chunk of the nation’s history.
The U.S. is a nation founded on religious freedom. There is no official religion in the United States. The whole reason people came over to this region of the world was to escape some form of religious persecution. Granted, most of that was based on whether you were a Catholic or Protestant and what the ruling king at the time followed, but the whole point of the First Amendment is to ensure that everyone can freely practice there religion, not set up a master religion to judge over all the others. Heck, even the founding fathers weren’t all Christians. Some were deists, rationalists, and so on.
We want to fight about legal issues and say that the Ten Commandments should be in front of court houses because that’s what our country’s laws were based on. News flash. Most other faiths speak out against murder, theft, lying, and the like. Those aren’t exclusively Christian. In fact, they’re Jewish. And the ones that are exclusive—like love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind—aren’t a part of our law.
So when we’re arguing about laws in our country, let’s remember that it’s a nation for all people, not one religion.
The Church is still the Church.
Jesus is still Jesus. Christians are still Christians. Non-Christians are still non-Christians. And Wile E. Coyote will still never catch the Road Runner. Nothing has changed about the church, folks. In fact, this may actually be a good direction for the church. Being in a “Christian” nation has made the church complacent anyway. Just because the laws aren’t “on our side” (which is a ridiculous thought to begin with), it doesn’t mean that the purpose of the church has changed at all.
Look, the Hebrews spent hundreds of years as captives to Egypt. The nation of Israel lived in captivity to the Babylonians and the Assyrians. The first Christians lived under Roman rule. None of these people lived under a government that was run by their faith, and guess what? Their beliefs still lived on. In fact, the church under Roman rule began, exploded, and thrived. And it still happens today. Some of the best stories of how the Gospel has changed lives has come from countries who actually have anti-Christian laws. Places like China and Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Maybe this trend in government is the wake-up call we need as Christians to truly understand that our nation is not comprised only of Christ followers, especially here in the South. People need to hear the Gospel.
Love triumphs over hate.
“Love Wins” is trending as I type this. It’s true, and we need to remember that. Jesus told us that we will be known by our love. I see a lot of hate out there. I also see a lot of love. We should see more love. We need to stop and ask ourselves if the actions were are taking are the response of a loving God.
I know this brings up the issue of homosexuality as sin. A couple of thoughts:
First of all, people who are not followers of Christ don’t care about sin. What I mean by this is that telling someone that they’re going to hell because of their sin doesn’t really affect someone who doesn’t believe in hell. Take Jesus’s example. Jesus never told people to fix their lives before they could come to him. No, he said that the sick are the ones who need a doctor. He established relationships with these people first, then told them to go and sin no more.
Secondly, for those who would bring up the issue of people who are homosexual and profess to be Christians. That’s a separate matter that requires a person to be convicted about their own personal sins. I would, however, pose some questions in response. Can a true follower of Christ still struggle and knowingly commit sins like anger, envy, and pride, his entire life and still be forgiven of that sin? And are these sins any lesser sins than others? Is a person who spends her entire life in sin but professes faith in Christ just before she dies any less forgiven than someone who did his entire life? I recall a parable from Jesus about some workers and their wages.
As I’m preparing for a sermon I’m preaching this Sunday, I’ve been reading through Acts and Paul’s life. Paul was guilty of so many sins, terrible ones at that. Yet, he was forgiven for all of them. He also spent much of his ministry preaching on how salvation is based on faith. A lot of arguing I hear seems more like works-based salvation talk.
Jesus’s sacrifice covers over a multitude of sins, and I don’t recall seeing a list anywhere in the Bible that explains which sins will be forgiven and which ones won’t. There’s only one place where Jesus said a sin wouldn’t be forgiven, Matthew 12:31,32: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Being so far gone that you can’t tell the difference between good and evil and attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. That’s a sin that can’t be forgiven. Everything else is covered by the blood of Jesus.
Here’s my response: Instead of sitting around pouting and complaining that the government is against Christianity, forget about the government. It’s not their job anyway. It’s not one nation under God. It’s one nation that contains a group of disciples under God.
It’s our job to go out and take the good news of Jesus Christ to those who need to hear it. It’s our job to give hope to those who don’t have it. It’s our job to introduce people to a relationship with God.
In life, you’re either moving toward God or away from him. Let’s help everyone we encounter move toward God.