Monday, June 29, 2015

White-washed Babylon

That title is stolen from a statement made by our pastor this weekend, and struck me as a deeply insightful launch point for a little discussion.

I have, for the most part, kept my thoughts and opinions to myself this past week following the SCOTUS decision. Today, I thought maybe I would share a couple of thoughts about not only this topic, but also the state of our country as a whole:

1) The USA is not the land of promise, or heaven, or Zion-
      It is not like this decision is the first time, and it will not be the last, that the US government has passed laws that condone sin. There are a lot of sins in our life that are perfectly legal. We, in the US, became so coddled in our democracy that some Christians (and especially "Christians") who fell into a false sense that we were living in some kind of vast wondrous paradise. They believe the lie that we are a Christian nation. This is, has been, and always will be, patently false. We are nothing more than the white-washed Babylon alluded to before. We are a country of sinful men and women, who do sinful things, that are glossed over because somehow we have gotten into our heads that we are better or different than the world. We are a Pharisitic nation, made to look good on the outside, but are filled with dead men's bones and all matter on uncleanliness (to steal Jesus' description). Why are we surprised that the governing body of such a country would pass laws that are not in keeping with our Biblical worldview?!
Generations of American Christians fell for the twisted lies of Satan. He allowed us to get comfy cozy, nestled up next to our chosen secret sins. He lured us into a false sense of protection from the evils of the world. And now, when that bandage has begun to crack, and we have been forced into realizing that maybe our Zion is in fact just another piece of broken creation, we cry out that its not right!?
We live in and among the world, our country is not a Christian nation. We are not ruled by Christian men and women, and we are not governed by a Biblical government. We can't expect our government to rule any differently.

2) God is still God-
     A court of men cannot overrule the law of God. That being said, we are commanded, as followers of Christ to obey the law of God. The law of God governs how we live, being summed up by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew,
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Love, in this way, is defined by obedience to the teachings and example of Jesus. This means that we are to be honest, caring, compassionate. It means that we are to call sin out for what it is, but to use that aspect of the Law as a light in the darkness, revealing the path to salvation, peace, and righteousness that is only found in Christ. This means that when we point out a sin, be it an issue of sexual immorality, pride, deceit, etc. that we ensure that we are seeking the eternal good of those to whom we are speaking, and not simply seeking to judge and condemn. Jesus shows how we do this in His many interactions with sinners, dining with them, teaching them, etc. Over and over in his ministry, we see that he has compassion on a person or people, and out of that inner-surging of love he calls forth their sin, speaks about it plainly, and offers up forgiveness which is given only through Him. We see this with the woman caught in adultery, at the well, Jesus speaks openly with her about a multitude of sins, he offers her forgiveness, and when she acknowledge him as Lord, he tells her to go forth and sin no more.

3) Governments are still ordained-
      In Romans, Paul exhorts us
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment."

There is two sides to this, the first is that, as Christians, we must submit ourselves to our government. This does not mean that we sit idly by and do whatever the government says we are to do, but that we respect the authority of government. We abide by the governing authority so long as it does not violate the Law of God. If the government is forcing its people to violate God's law, then yes, we resist, God's Law supersedes man's laws. However, if the government passes a law that in itself does not force a Christian to violate the Law of God, then we have no need or reason to resist. In the direct case of this SCOTUS decision, the government is not forcing us to break the Law of God, though there is threat of punishment for God's people if we do not fully embrace the decision. In this instance, we are still free to practice as we believe is right, we might just have to face persecution for doing so... just like the Bible tells us we will.
I do also want to mention that the Bible is clear about repercussions on those who condone, promote, and institutionalize sin. Which should cause us to pray more fervently for our country.

4) We are not left without guidance-
      We are given detailed, Biblical accounts of how to handle living in and among a country like ours. We are given the book of Daniel. Daniel is a man (really an adolescent) who finds himself, a devout follower of God, being made to live among a culture and country that did not meet his worldview (to put it mildly). Throughout the story of his captivity, we learn by Daniel's example that it is possible to live in perfect peace and harmony with the world, without compromising your heartfelt convictions in following God. We are also shown that in order to do such things requires reckless obedience to the sovereign will of God, and a willingness to suffer (and possibly die for) those choices. Daniel spoke boldly, proclaiming that he would not defile himself under the directives of the king. He worked diplomatically to ensure that he could live according to the expressed will of God, and was willing to pay whatever the cost would be for his choice. He was obedient to God, and lived at peace with his government. He did not compromise on how he would live, he didn't snuggle up to the edge of sin, he lived a bold testimony of his faith. We, as Christians, can learn a ton from this... we can live according to our faith, standing firm on our convictions, and still live at peace with those who disagree with us. Paul instructs us in this as well, telling us in Romans 12, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." Paul was a staunch proponent of living by the Law of God, under the grace and mercy of Christ, so if he also tells us to live at peace with all (so far as it depends on us), then we must deduce that we can do both. We can live as Jesus instructs us to, boldly holding fast to our convictions, and still seek to live at peace with all people. We have commands and examples to follow to allow ourselves to live at peace in such a way that if there is conflict among us, it be because of them and not us.

So, to wrap this all up, I want to say one last thing:
  I am so tired of the mass delusion of so many that our world was somehow shattered this week. I am thankful and grateful for the SCOTUS decision. If for no other reason than this:
 Throughout scripture, especially throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus, we find that it is those who are truly able to accept their brokenness and their need of a savior who see the most powerful miracles done. It is not the pharisees, those who believe they are good and righteous, through whom Jesus does his greatest works. So, if this decision is finally breaking through the white-washed facade of the distorted reality, and allowing churches and their people to realize that there is work to be done within our cities, then hallelujah! God works all things for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose... that includes decisions made by our governments. It is time for us Christians to stand up, and live as we have been commanded to live, following the examples given to us.

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