Friday, June 26, 2015

The Supreme Court's Ruling & Our Ambassadorship

As I was leaving work this morning, a friend of mine told me about the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. I was then reminded of the poetic truth rhythmically expressed by Eshon Burgundy,
“they tryna take the title from the Bible/tryna redefine the truth and make us feel like we are psychos/they bullets got our names and aint no typos on their rifles but that’s why we unashamed and make no idol of survival”    (“The Fear of God”, from “The Fear of God” album)
Captures it well doesn’t it?

I have to say, I’m not surprised by the Supreme Court's ruling and neither should you if you are a born-again believer. We are living in a modern time that mirrors the biblical time of Judges. This world in its secularist and postmodernist generations have been doing what's right in their own eyes, which is evil in the sight of God, for several decades now. Even former President Ronald Reagan in his 1983 speech before the Annual Convention of the National Associations of Evangelicals addressed the escalation of modern day secularism in a number of areas from morality, to family, to government interference on religious freedom. But the day will come when the Supreme Judge will address all of Creation from His Supreme Court.
“We will all stand before God to be judged by Him. The Holy Writings say, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before Me. And every tongue will say that I am God.” Everyone of us will give an answer to God about himself.” (Rom. 14:10b-12, NLV)
“Then I saw a great white throne. I saw the One who sat on it. The earth and the heaven left Him in a hurry and they could be found no more. I saw all the dead people, [great and small], standing before God. The books were opened. Then another book was opened. It was the book of life. The dead people were judged by what they had done as it was written in the books.” (Rev. 20:11-12, NLV)

Believers must remember, this world is not our home (Phil. 3:20). We are aliens here and ambassadors of a great and true King and Kingdom. We cannot expect "this world" to reflect or adopt the principles, conduct, and customs of the Kingdom we belong to. We are ambassadors here with an assignment from our King to be ministers of reconciliation.
“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.” (Jn. 17:18-19, NKJV)
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, [as though God were] making his appeal through us.” (2Cor. 5:17-20a, ESV)
We are to implore the people of this world on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God (2Cor. 5:20b). That is our assignment as ambassadors of the King. And with every sinful and rebellious turn we see the world take, we should be more and more motivated to implore them to be reconciled to God because we know of the great judgment that is to come.

Yet, I would be remiss to mention that it will get worse here in this world for us. Jesus makes it clear, we are not from this world like He our King was not from here and if they hated and rejected Him they will hate and reject us too because we are His. Let us not respond to them as they do to us.
“If the world hates you, know that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, I have chosen you out of the world, and you don’t belong to the world. This is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you, ‘Servants aren’t greater than their master.’ If the world [persecuted/harassed] Me, it will [persecute/harass] you too. If it kept My word, it will also keep yours. The world will do all these things to you on account of My name, because it doesn’t know the One who sent Me.” (Jn. 15:18-21, CEB)
“I have given Your Word to My followers. The world hated them because they do not belong to the world, even as I do not belong to the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world. I ask You to keep them from the devil. My followers do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world.” (Jn. 17:14-16, NLV)

Until our King's Kingdom is the only kingdom left, we are to joyfully and obediently serve our King in this foreign world in the ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of His Kingdom and look forward to that great day of His return. Be bold. Stand for God's truth. Represent His Kingdom. But do so seasoned with grace not hate.

June 26, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

The "Idea of Love"

In the wake of the Bruce Jenner controversy, I saw many professing "Christians" comment to other "Christians" who disagree––with Bruce Jenner, how the media and society has portrayed it, and what the Bible has to say about it––with the (now) old catchphrases, "God loves and accepts everyone", and, "This is why Christians are considered intolerant now, because they hold to narrow-minded principles in an out-dated book", and, "Jesus taught love not division". When these things are written by unbelievers, that's to be expected. Apostle John writes, "the world does not know us, because it did not know Him" (1Jn. 3:1b, NKJV). But to see comments like these from professing "Christians" always lead me to question, at worst, are they truly born-again, or at best, are they that benighted. There is simply no way a biblically-grounded born-again disciple of Jesus can utter statements like these from their heart. But the problem goes much deeper.

Far too many people (professing "Christians" and non-Christians alike) are reinterpreting God's "love" to include tolerance and acceptance for everyone and everything. Thus they strip "love" from the biblical God and plain reality, and make "love" an illogical, subjective, humanistic, fanciful "idea" which imposes unrealistic expectations that benefits whomever determines the definition and context of the "idea of love" at that time. It is commonplace now to hold this "idea of love" worldview and interpretation. And by commonplace I mean there has been a normalizing of desensitization toward this hazardous view and interpretation. This commonplace has also crept into the church pews and pulpits, small groups, bible studies, and Christian colleges, bookstores, and blogosphere. In North America and Europe this commonplace now sits proudly in the front row and publicly speaks as if it's a member of the Church. It is a ravenous wolf dressed in sheepskin.

The "idea of love" has no fundamental point. It's a formless "idea" able to be configured to the liken of whomever. In contrast, the fundamental point of knowing and understanding God's love is His unchanging Scripture properly interpreted (because we all know Scripture can be interpreted to say and affirm anything). In Scripture we see God's love is unconditional and has been demonstrated on all mankind in the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. But we also see in Scripture God's love is holy and not tolerant and accepting of everyone or everything. Here are 3 examples:
1. God hates sin.
"There are six things the Lord hates—–no, seven things He detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord [among brethren]." (Prov. 6:16-19, NLT)
"You must not worship the Lord your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods." (Deut. 12:31, NLT)

2. God hates the wicked.
"God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day." (Ps. 7:11, NKJV)
"The Lord tests the righteous, but His soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence." (Ps. 11:5, ESV)

3. God's special love is only bestowed on His children––which means there is partiality with God's love.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1Jn. 3:1a, NIV)

Also in Scripture, we, the people of God, are told that if we "love" and revere God we are to "hate" evil. This is clearly not teaching tolerance and acceptance of everyone or everything.
"You who love the Lord, hate evil!" (Ps. 97:10, NKJV).
"The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil." (Prov. 8:13, ESV).

We see God's love (and teaching) in Scripture stands in direct opposition to this reinterpretation of His "love". It's one or the other, God's love as revealed in Scripture or God's "love" as reinterpreted in the "idea of love".

In addition, the reality of "authentic love" between humans must too display partiality at times; it cannot logically and realistically be tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything. An example of this is a man whom genuinely loves his wife and children will not choose the life of another over his wife and children. Even more, a man whom genuinely loves his wife and children will defend their life, if need be, to the point of death of himself or another. Or, a parent whom genuinely loves their children will not be tolerant and accepting of someone molesting or abusing their children. When people with "authentic love" for another have a choice to make, more times than not, they logically and instinctively will choose the one whom they love more over the one whom they least love. This indicates the reality of "authentic love" as not being absolutely tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything.

Those who hold to the "idea of love" are living an illusion. That "love" that supposedly is tolerant and accepting of everyone and everything is a fantasy. It's not real. It can never be real. Those who demand the biblical God and others to hold to this "idea of love" are delusional and self-refuting, because (i)their belief is "firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument"*, and (ii)they themselves are not being tolerant or accepting of the biblical God or others who disagree with their "idea of love".

In no way am I saying that as Christians we are not to "love" others. Loving others is a direct command from Jesus (Matt. 22:36-40). We obey our Lord, no matter what. However, loving others in a subjective, humanistic fashion is not the "love" Scripture teaches. The "love" Scripture teaches is patient, kind, gentle, humble, unselfish, hopeful, and many other favorable virtues (1Cor. 13:3-8). Yet, the "love" Scripture teaches also does not rejoice in/with sin but rejoices in the truth, does not behave rudely, does not love this world nor the things of this world, hates evil, and much more (1Cor. 13:3-8, 1Jn. 2:15). Scripture teaches believers a balanced, holy love (like that of their Savior & God), not a subjective, humanistic "idea" (like that of the world). So yes, we as believers are to love others, but in accordance with all of Scripture not only the virtues some deem favorable because they're more likable to others, but also the virtues that may/will pit us against the world as well.

When I started writing this it was suppose to be a tweet. After I realized it was more than 140 characters, I said it'll be a Facebook post. But, once I saw I had multiple paragraphs I decided to post it as a blog article. This has nothing to do with Bruce Jenner. It was the comments from professing "Christians" in defense of Mr. Jenner that were the tipping point and ushered me to write. This is about the poisonous and deadly deception of viewing and interpreting God's holy love as revealed in His holy Word through the lenses of this illogical, subjective, humanistic, fanciful "idea of love". This is about how this "idea of love" is not even in touch with reality and an innumerable amount of people across generations and countries are dismally lost in it's illusion. If you are a professing "Christian" and you continue in this deception you may prove yourself not truly one of His regenerate children (e.g. 2Thess. 2:10-12), and if you die in that state of deception you will find out firsthand how God's holy love is not what you thought when you experience the hell for those He hates (Prov. 16:4-5, 1Thess. 1:6-9). Please hear my heart, my previous sentence is not from a harsh place (though I'm sure it may have been received as such). As Apostle Paul writes in 2Thess. 3:15, "do not count [them] as an enemy, but warn [them] as [brethren]" (NKJV). I am simply pointing out another biblical reality that opposes this "idea of love": "Those who refuse to embrace the Word of Truth have not been saved by the truth and are furthering their own deception."**

My hope and prayer is if any of this is true in your life you come to repentance and escape the snare of the enemy. You cannot hold to two opposing beliefs, for in your heart you will uphold one and reject the other (e.g. Matt. 6:24).

*1. Dictionary. Version 2.2.1. Apple Inc
**2. Quote from sermon, "Trick, Cheat, Deceit, or the Word pt. 6"

June 5, 2015