Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christian Intolerance

There is a growing tide that I see emerging in our land. As our nation rebels against God in the name of enlightenment, there is a growing sentiment against Christianity and Christians in general. This is ironic, because it is mostly being done by the same people that are maligning Christianity as being intolerant. What's worse is that we have people feeling they can put God on trial when they don't even know Him or His words.

As I write this we are nearing Christmas. It is now considered almost rude or bigoted to wish someone a "Merry Christmas." We hear things like "well what if they don't celebrate Christmas" or "We shouldn't just assume that a person celebrates Christmas," etc. Really?? Wishing someone a Merry Christmas is now seen as closed-minded and intolerant of other beliefs? This is compassion that has been twisted into something misleading. Must we be forced to say "Happy Holidays" like we are an advertiser trying to appeal to the broadest base without possibly offending someone? Are people that fragile that a simple good-natured wish for a Merry Christmas is going to shatter their well-being?

As a result of this and other things, spirituality has become situated within "self" as we reshape God according to our cultural values.

For example, I heard the President (W) say in an interview that he thought the Muslims were worshiping the same God as the Christians do (though they don't know it and apparently we don't either). Now I think our president is a sincere Christian, but that does not make him an authority on the faith. What he is doing is common of people today who are shaping their faith and their view of God based upon a limited knowledge of God's Word mixed with our cultural values. Imagine if someone was formulating negative opinions about you without getting to know you and only by second or third hand knowledge...

Just recently in the elections we saw the attacks upon President Bush and Gov. Palin for their faith. They have been ridiculed and mocked by the so-called "enlightened" crowd. Granted each have their obvious flaws, but to be denigrated like that in large part due to their beliefs is the climate of the day

But what about the critics assertions that Christianity is intolerant? Is it intolerance for God to define who He is or how people may connect with Him? If there are many roads to God then (with respect) what kind of fool would Jesus have to be to die for the sins of the world if we could go to heaven by simply having good intentions and being sincere?

Is Christianity intolerant? Absolutely. We believe that as Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 (TNIV)). It is His claim about himself, we merely are communicators of this truth to others. Does that mean that we disrespect other religions? No. Does it mean there are no good things in other beliefs? Of course not! Does it mean that we treat someone who believes differently with disrespect? Absolutely not.

Here's the application moment; will Christians alter God's truth because it is becoming inconvenient and unpopular to those around them? Is it "our" truth to mold and shape as we see fit, or is it God's truth and therefore we are simple purveyors of it? Will we be able to stand with compassionate boldness against cries of intolerance and bigotry to humbly say that God has given a precious gift and great sacrifice to all of humanity in allowing His Son to die in our place. If any want freedom from the chains of sin; if any want to embrace God's gift of salvation from a purposeless, broken life as well as an escape from an eternity in Hell, then all they have to do is to humble themselves and believe.

Our continuing challenge in this culture will be navigating the path of relevance in ministry. We will most certainly change our ways of doing things in church. We will change our methodology in order to build a bridge for the gospel to connect with people where they are. However, we must not out of fear or arrogance start changing God's word. We must not sacrifice the truth of the way to salvation because it has become unpopular or inconvenient. Did the martyrs lay down their lives through the centuries so that we, as recipients of the unbroken chain of faithfulness, could say to our coworkers and those around us, "Well Jesus is my Lord, but whatever you believe is fine."

Luke 18:8 (TNIV) "...when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Something New Is Here

There's something new in the air...can you feel it?
I can.
I can't explain it except to say that it's a God thing.
I sense it every time in worship or when I have the privilege of talking to someone about Jesus.
God is giving the gift of His presence as this world is going down.
People are sensing peace in the midst of their pain.
I know that as I continue to move in obedience by His grace toward the Lord that I will get to experience this.
This is why I am here
This is why we as a church as a body are here...for such a time as this.
In the midst of despair, God's people will know joy.
In the midst of lack, God's people will enjoy bounty.
In the midst of arrogance and hatred, God's people will know humility and brokenness.
God is raising up a people of faith. A people who boldly defy the things and people around them that say they should despair; that they should turn inward; that they should hoard.
It is for this moment that we are alive; to show His light and His goodness.
Worship, Pray, Read, Serve, Give, Obey and see what you thought was impossible come to pass.