Al-Qaeda & ISIS wreaking havoc. 38 gunned down on a beach in Tunisia. 27 killed in a suicide bombing in Kuwait. 30 killed by extremists in Somalia. Beheading in France. In our own country: church shooting in Charleston. Riots in Ferguson, Baltimore, other places. Look around. The culture surrounding the church is not getting better. Humanity is progressively getting worse. As it should. Such are the effects of sin.
Then this week we have the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court. Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. The bedrock institution for society, marriage, is now legally changed. We, the church, really thought it would never happen. Not in America. Not in a “Christian” nation. Not here. But it has happened. Now, the question is, “How will we respond?” Allow me to offer some thoughts…
- This world is hostile toward God, the gospel, and ultimately, the church. We will likely face difficult decisions and have to make significant stands in the days to come. Remember: our battle is not against people. Our battle is against Satan and the forces of evil (Eph. 6:12)
- This world is blind to the gospel and goodness of God. 2 Cor. 4:4, “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
- This world’s problem is not homosexuality, terrorism, racial hatred, greed, etc. This world’s problem is sin. The root issue we are battling is sin (Rom. 3:10, 3:23; 1:18). If not for the grace of God, I could be a terrorist, a murderer, a homosexual. So could you.
- God still reigns. Heaven is not shaken by a ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States. God is still absolutely sovereign. Ps. 33:10-11, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”
- God’s truth is still the ultimate truth. The Bible is still the supreme directive for the church. When the law of the land contradicts the Law of the Lord, we side with the Law of the Lord.
- Our situation will likely grow worse. The church in America has enjoyed an extended season of unprecedented freedom and liberty. Seems now the church is entering a season where we will experience a progressive loss of freedom. We should expect pressure, and yes, even persecution in the days to come. This should come as no surprise. The Bible says things will grow increasingly difficult for the church (2 Tim. 3:1-4).
- Rather than anger, outrage, or hatred, let’s respond in compassion. Let’s be careful to remember: the people Jesus expressed anger toward were the religious legalists of his day (see Mt. 23). He responded to the sinner in compassion. Hateful protests and shouting matches never provide a healthy platform for the gospel.
- Rather than caving to the culture, let’s impact the culture with the gospel of the grace of Jesus. We cannot in any way agree with or condone the decision the Supreme Court handed down this week, and we shouldn’t pretend we do just to avoid disagreement. In these days, we must speak clearly the truth of Jesus in a way that is received in a spirit of compassion. As Russell Moore wrote, “We must not only speak Christian truth; we must speak it with a Christian accent.”
- Rather than hunker down and wall-up the fortress, let’s invade the darkness with the light of the gospel. What does the LGBT (or the terrorist, or the drunk, or the prostitute…) need to know more than anything: That the God who created them wants them to know true wholeness and love that is found only by leaving their life of sin and entering into a relationship with Jesus. Who will tell them?
Church, now is not the time to retreat. We have a prime opportunity to boldly proclaim the gospel and advance the Kingdom. Let’s boldly and lovingly proclaim the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus. Stand up for truth, just don’t be a jerk about it. Let’s hold the line against sin, and let’s be careful to love people along the way.