We Need to Show People the Transformation from Christ, not Scream "You're Wrong!"

                I’ve been mulling this one over for a while, and I think I can put it all onto paper now. I’ve been thinking specifically, about the testimony of the church as it relates to today’s issues. When I was younger, I had always heard the caricature of the church and Christians as uptight prudes who never smile because everything is sinful. While I think this one is easily dismissed if people will get to know Christians, it is the most recent description of church that troubles me. We are painted as hypocrites, we do not practice what we preach, which is one of the most common objections to Christianity. I just heard a video from the YouTube channel LutheranSatire that described the faith vs works dilemma that we see between Catholics and Protestants. What struck me is that we are justified before God by faith, but it is our works that show to other people that we are transformed Christians or not. If we are no different from the people that we are trying to convert, if there is no evidence of Christ in our lives, then why on earth would non-Christians listen to us? What I want to try to do today is to scripturally show that we need our transformations through Christ to be evident to be effective disciples, as well as give some comments on some current events that Christians need to step up on instead of hiding in our faith bubbles.

                We can start with the person of Paul, he was out killing any Christians on the order of the Jews, but he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and was utterly transformed by that encounter, going on to risk his life multiple times over to preach and convince people of the truth that he had discovered. We are also called to a similar transformation in Romans 12:2 (Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will). We have other scriptures saying that those who have accepted Christ are new creations, and we should behave as such (2 Corinthians 5:17, Galatians 2:20, Philippians 3:18). So what does it mean to be transformed by Christ? Well it says in Romans that our mind is renewed, and I think that means that our mind, as well as everything else will follow the will of God. How do we know the will of God? First off, we have scripture and God has seen to it that scripture has applications to today’s world, even after thousands of years. If you are looking to learn what scripture says, I would recommend a start into the book of Proverbs, but definitely do not stop there. I am currently reading a discussion over the book of Daniel by Dr. John Lennox of Oxford, and every page and paragraph that I have read so far has me in awe of how amazing the book of Daniel is and how it parallels to the current religious and political situations.

                So how do I think we can work on our testimony as Christians today? First I want to start with the concept of marriage. Since Henry VIII, we have seen divorce in the church, as well as the world at large. Is divorce a good thing? I think, at its base level, that it is a detestable thing, but let me elaborate. God has described marriage as one man and one woman becoming one flesh. This describes the man and woman lying together and knowing each other in the biblical sense, but it also describes that the couple have come before God and have promised to weather all things of this life together as a team. The couple has made this covenant before God to be for each other only. There isi only one condition where divorce was justified by Jesus, when one of the partners is unfaithful. Now, if this occurs, should the marriage be dissolved immediately? I don’t think so, though it is permitted, because I think it spits in the face of the forgiveness that God has offered to Israel over and over again. I think people are able to reconcile themselves to one another and God in either case of infidelity, to your husband/wife or to God, but this needs to be on a case by case basis. However, I think the case for the sanctity of marriage put forth by the church has been harmed by people divorcing, because people give up on their covenant they have made and go on to be with other people. I’m not saying these people are beyond redemption, but when people who have been married multiple times are yelling about same-sex marriage, I think this is a case of yelling about the speck in your neighbor’s eye when you yourself have a plank in yours (Matthew 7:5). The divorce rate in the church is comparable to the divorce rate as the rest of the world! I think that says something about how we have allowed the world to control how we view this covenant relationship that two people make to each other and to God!
Now, I understand that we are to call out evil as we see it, but I have a couple of points. First off, I don’t think the government should have ever gotten involved in marriage and regulations on taxes, loved ones visiting you in the hospital, etc., do more harm than good when it comes to our testimony as a church and being loving to all. This I think is because we have associated the church and government together when it comes to marriages such that it has become a ubiquitous term. Second, given the government involvement, and the separation of church and state that give us our freedom to worship without government interference, I have no problem with people pursuing same-sex unions so they can enjoy the benefits as a couple. Put down your pitch forks and torches for a second, I do not condone homosexual behavior and think we should be ministering to the LGBT community such that they would leave their lifestyle and follow Christ, but Jesus did not come here so that his kingdom will be established here for the benefit of Christians. Indeed, Christ said that his kingdom was not of this world! (John 18:36).

What I am saying here is that marriage should be a term reserved for the church and the godly covenant that I have described, and that the church should stand firm on the doctrine of one man and one woman make up a marriage. I don’t think we are to use scripture to subjugate the masses similar to the Muslim-majority countries and give the believers of the majority faith benefits that non-believers do not receive, but we are to call people to realize that the ways of this world are deficient, and that only by following Christ can we truly be satisfied here as we are prepared for the kingdom beyond this earth. I think our biggest call to show people this way is to demonstrate it in our marriages, our social lives, our private lives, and everything should have the love of Christ evident (1 Corinthians 13).
On top of all of the calls to follow a scriptural definition of marriage, there are multitudes of studies that show that married couples are happier and lead happier lives than those who live together before marriage, or those who just try to make it on their own as a long term couple who decide to not get married. There are also studies that describe a trend that couples that have fewer sexual partners, or even sleeping with only one another report happier marriages. These comments run counter to the culture of today, which recommends a “trial-period” on long-term relationships. This trial period is problematic, because if people aren’t satisfied with living together or the sex, they leave, and it leads to negative effects for both parties on their future relationships. We don’t have to look far to know someone who has been affected by this try it before you buy it mentality. I did also mention the keeping the number of sexual partners low, ideally only 1, the man/woman that you are going to marry! This is how God designed it and studies are showing that this is the way to having happy relationships/marriages!

So let’s move on a little bit from marriage, homosexuality, and sex, and talk about some other hot-button issues. Probably the most common after this is the topic of the transgender community. I personally don’t think there are more than two genders, and I don’t think that we need to be empowering teens that are gender confused, because studies show that once they are through puberty they are no longer confused. I think that people that try to use Galatians 3:28 (There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor there is male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.) to justify transgenderism need to read the rest of the book. Paul is admonishing the Galatian church because they are practicing legalism and clinging to the Mosaic law to justify the prejudice against Gentile Christians. Galatians 3:28 is to show equality to all under Christ. But what about those that believe that God made a mistake and put them in the wrong body? I think there are multiple problems with that statement. God made us male and female and He had plans for us before we were in our mother's womb! (Mark 10:5, Genesis 5:2, Jeremiah 1:5) To claim any other gender is to contradict scripture, and to say that God made a mistake when He decided your birth gender is to say that God is not perfect and that you have a plan for your life that is better than His!
How can we see this in abortion? I don’t think I can contribute much more to the scriptural debate over the sanctity of life, and that God knows what He is doing, even in the timing of women getting pregnant. I think instead of wasting our time and effort protesting abortion, how about promoting alternatives? We have plenty of pregnancy centers that help women get the resources they need for the birth and subsequent care of their child. I do think that we need adoption reform, as well as a better understanding of the care for our economically less fortunate so that we can help them out. To me, if we can provide these alternatives to people who don’t want to raise their children, or helping those who can’t afford it, then we take away a lot of the reasons for people to go to abortion clinics and end a child’s life before it even begins.

Now for the true third rail, politics. How are we to fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters who are on the other side of the aisle from you? I think this is partly a problem, once again, of allowing ourselves to be caught up in the hollow philosophies of men (Colossians 2:8). I think we as Christians want to help, but we do have different ideas on how to help and to what role government should be involved in that help. I don’t know if we will ever have Christians of one mind when it comes to politics, and I don’t know if we should. I think the church needs to be all things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22). I think that we need people of all walks, creeds, political leanings, what have you, to show that Christ came for all and that we have a multitude of people to pursue ministries of all kinds. I think this means for Christians to not be polarized against one side or the other by the mass media. I think we need to deal with one another person to person, and examine the best method for solving each problem case by case. I think this may be dismissed by some people as being neutral and that I should pick one side or the other. If you want my personal opinion, I think that the government in the United States has way too much power, and for better or worse, the power needs to be in the hands of the people, with minimal involvement from the government. The government should be here to hand down laws that create a fair environment for the treatment of others in a similar manner as to how the Christian church should operate. Indeed, Jurgen Habermas, an atheist philosopher, has been quoted as the egalitarianism that we see today and strive to perfect comes from Judeo-Christian values, and everything else is just post-modern chatter.

                I mentioned that we need to show this miraculous transformation from Christ in all of our lives, and I hope and pray that I do that before I start preaching to other Christians about this topic. I’m not saying that we need to condone sinful behavior as we see it, but we need to build relationships with others and show them the ways of Christ, rather than brow beating them with scripture when we see them doing wrong, otherwise, we are no better than the non-Christians that I described earlier. Indeed, I know plenty of non-Christian friends of mine that put some Christians to shame when it comes to grace and humility around others. Aside from this, we need to go to all and make disciples, as there is no external distinction by which Christ separates us, for He judges us through our hearts (Galatians 3:28, 1 Samuel 16:7, Jeremiah 17:10). So what do you think about all of this? Have I judged the current state of the church unfairly? Is there another topic that we should add to this list? Please start a conversation here or on Facebook! God bless and have a great rest of your day!
References
http://www.ajuloveconnection.com/article/6-reasons-why-sex-before-marriage-affects-a-relationship/
https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/govt-provides-gender-service-for-kids-who-fancy-themselves-as-transgender

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