Friday, May 16, 2008

Who or What are we trying to save?

I have an important question. What should we try to save, people or our "American Christian culture"? In answer to that question let me pull out a great cultural canard and twist it. What did Jesus say/do? Let's look at a couple of passages from God's Word where Jesus talked about our mission
Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
John 18:36-37

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

Unless I misread these statements somehow, Jesus didn't tell us or His disciples to go and create a nation that follows Him. He told us to go and make disciples of all the nations. He even said that His kingdom is not of this world. But frequently we find believers, especially in America, attempting to redeem our culture and make it Christlike.
America is a unique experiment. It began with a group of men who believed in God and believed that He had led them to that place and that time in history to do something truly unique. They founded a nation on Godly principles and I believe that God truly did bless that nation like no other in history. It is a testament to the faithfulness of God that He has blessed a nation that honored Him and sought to give Him glory. Some people have gone so far as to apply the promises and warnings that were given to Israel to America, but that is not Biblical or proper. God has not changed and He will continue to deal with wickedness. So that brings me back to the original question; does God want us to save people or create a "culture" that honors Him? Let me add another piece to the puzzle for thought.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:18-32

Now let me take this into modern mainstream Christian thinking. Yesterday, the California courts declared gay marriage acceptable in the eyes of the state. What should a Christian's response be? Should we lobby to get better politicians who will appoint better judges who will overturn a decision that wasn't even a good one to begin with? Or should we weep at the plight of the millions who are still living their lives blind and unaware or worse fully aware and approving of these things? And if we can be moved to compassion for the plight of those who are facing God's wrath the same as we were; perhaps we will be willing to share with them the truth of God's standard that shows us to be guilty in His courtroom. Then we can share the Good News (Gospel), that God has done something for all of us who rightly deserve His wrath.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:6-11

We should certainly speak the truth and be willing to call sin, sin! But if we lose our focus on making disciples(people acceptable to God) for the sake of fighting to make our culture acceptable to God, we will be fighting a losing battle, distracted from the main objective.

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