While, what we call the "Judeo/Christian Ethic" goes back nearly 5,000 years, our particular faith was born, roughly 2 millennia ago in the midst of a dark and sinful culture. Augustus ruled the world's largest empire from his throne in Rome. Puppet regimes were set up under him in conquered territories, for the sole purposes of keeping order, and rendering taxes and tribute to the throne. The Roman Emperor was deemed to be divine. He presided over a culture that was morally rotting from the inside out. Human life was cheap. Women were chattel. There were basically three classes of people, rich, poor, and slaves. Political corruptness was rampant. Sexuality was uninhibited and perverseness of all kinds were rampant and accepted behavior. Conquered peoples were often allowed to practice their own religions, as long as it did not interfere with the "state religion" and the concept that there was no god but Caesar.
In the midst of this setting, Almighty God, kept His promise which dated as far back as Genesis 3:15. He sent the "Christ", the "Messiah", the promised redeemer into the world to deliver mankind from the darkness, guilt, and shackles of sin, and to provide abundant life, eternal life, and the blessing of having a personal relationship with Him. A man called Jesus, born in a stable in Judea, raised in the home of a peasant woman and her carpenter husband in Galilee strode into history. In His hometown of Nazareth, he announced the purpose of His coming by reading, in the synagogue from the Prophet Isaiah. Luke chapter 4 records it as follows:
Jesus came, not bearing a sword or a king's scepter, but a cross. You know the story. He lived a sinless life. He died a vicarious death to pay the penalty of sin for mankind. He rose from the grave on the third day, and He is alive forever more. His message has not changed. He left His followers with the responsibility to take the Good News of Salvation to every people group on the planet.
Today, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling, basically redefining the age old institution of marriage, and legalizing same sex marriages in all 50 states of the USA.
The Twitterverse has exploded with comments from all over the spectrum. Emotions run deep. This ruling is arguably the most onerous one handed down by the high court since their decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973, which has resulted in the American Holocaust of the slaughter of millions of innocent unborn children.
How does this decision effect us who follow Christ, who know what the biblical definition of marriage is, who grieve for the downward moral free fall of our culture? We can lament the decision. We can curse the darkness. We can bloviate about how America is going to Hell in a handbasket, and how if God doesn't judge America, he owes Sodom and Gomorrah and apology. We can set dates as when it all started with Madelyn Murray O'Hair, etc. All that may be true, but cursing the darkness will not change one single fact of history. So, other than cursing the darkness what do we do?
First, let us remember WHO we are. We are flawed humans. Sinful by our very nature. We have been redeemed. Regenerated by the Grace of God alone, through faith in Christ alone. We are called to be witnesses to His saving grace and to be Ambassadors of Christ in a fallen world. We are in the minority. Always have been. Always will be. Just like the early church in the first century, we face opposition from the culture in which we live. We are the few who are called to stand firmly on biblical truth, while proclaiming the Gospel in love and compassion for those who are spiritually dead..
On days like today, it seems that the task is just overpowering, doesn't it?
But also remember WHOSE we are! We belong to Christ. The church is his Bride (no pun intended). We are not our own, we are bought with His precious blood. He inhabits and empowers us through His Holy Spirit. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, and He knows those who are His. We can and must take comfort in that fact, and react to today's news in light of that truth.
We American Christians have become "spoiled" due to the blessings of religious liberties we have enjoyed for the past two centuries. But in the light of history, this is an aberration. Our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world have enjoyed no such freedom. With the freedoms we have had, much has been done for the cause of Christ, but much has gone undone, and we have seemed to slip into a false sense of entitlement. The harsh reality is that we are sojourners here. Religious liberties are eroding and an ever increasing pace. We can expect opposition to our faith to grow more openly, and this pastor truly believes that full scale persecution is coming for believers in America.
Again, what do we do? Curse the darkness? Vilify the SCOTUS five justices who voted in the majority? Put our trust in certain elected officials and political candidates? Wage a holy culture war or take a bunker mentality? No.
Now is the time that the church of Christ must BE the church of Christ.
Will we fold up and bow to popular culture?
No. I can tell you that our church will stand on biblical truth, but we will realize what the stakes are, and redouble our efforts to get the Gospel out more effectively than ever. Speaking the truth in love, and loving lost souls enough to tell them the truth.,
Jesus did not call us to be the Culture Warriors. He did not call us to be the Moral Police Officers of the USA. Here is the radical calling that He gives us as found in the Sermon on the Mount (in Matthew 5)
It's time to stand firm for truth my friends. But it is also time to do it in the way Christ Called us and in the ability in which He empowers us.
We must "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" but when the time comes that the two are in conflict, as Peter told the Sanhedrin Council in Acts 5 "We will obey God rather than men".
The world pretty well knows what we're "against". We've done a good job of communicating that. Now is the time for us to let them know what we are FOR.... such as Grace, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Relationship.
If you are distressed over today's court ruling remember this:
- The Supreme Court is not the SUPREME JUDGE
- Governments cannot change unchanging truth
- The Bible is still God's Word
- Jesus is still risen
- God is still in control
- We belong to Him
- Sharing the Great Commission is still our primary calling
In the time we have remaining, let's commit to:
- pray for lost people
- model personal holiness
- be men and women of Grace
- pray that God will make us effective witnesses and Ambassadors of Christ
- keep telling the Good News of Jesus and Redemption
- know that Jesus is still alive
- and focus on that "Salt and Light" thingy.