Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Moral Wasteland

I know that many Christians are cheered by the news of a Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate election. I know that other Christians are horrified whenever a preacher mentions politics. Sorry, but this article may offend both. It is not that I like to upset people, but sometimes I have no choice.

If you fear that my commenting on an election is a violation of the law, do not worry. I am not going to endorse a candidate (which is today called illegal, despite being obviously constitutional). I am only going to comment on certain moral issues. I have not only a legal right but a moral responsibility to do that.

If you have been rejoicing over the election of a Republican, please ask yourself how much you know about this man. Has a party label perhaps blinded some to the facts about his moral stance? While it has become common to assume that Democrats tend to be on the wrong side of nearly every moral issue in our country today, are you really confident that a man who has appeared as the centerfold of a racy magazine (and whose wife has done similar things) is likely to be on the right side, morally speaking? Do you even know his stance on issues like abortion, cloning, homosexuality, pornography, and the free exercise of the faith?

Unless I am greatly mistaken, the major parties presented the people of Massachusetts with the choice between two moral reprobates. The people (not surprisingly) chose a moral reprobate. Whether or not this election proves anything about what will happen in future elections, I do not know. But what I do perceive is that it proves (if we needed any proof) that America has become a moral and mental wasteland where people do not think clearly or morally.

This special election fell near the anniversary of the notorious Roe vs. Wade decision. In that decision the Supreme Court of this country took a position that is neither morally nor constitutionally defensible. Yet no representative (that I can recall) submitted a motion for their impeachment. They clearly demonstrated in their decision, that they had no respect for our foundational law, yet neither major party took a stand against such arrogance then, and neither major party has taken an effective stand since.

Sorry, but I am not much cheered by the news from Massachusetts. Perhaps the presence of another Republican will lead to a little more gridlock in Washington, and perhaps (under the circumstances) gridlock is a good thing. But the chilling fact remains. We are living in a moral wasteland where good is called evil and evil is called good.

This is nothing new. Isaiah lived in such a time (Isa 5:20). Jesus was born in such a time (Matt 2:1-18). We should not be fooled by either party, we should face the fact of the moral wasteland in which we live; but we should not give way to despair. Zechariah and Elizabeth were not dismayed at the moral wasteland into which their son was born. They did not mourn over what the world would do to their son. Instead they anticipated how the Lord would change the world through their son (Luke 1:57-79). The early Christians did not give up in the face of the murder of Stephen and the persecution that followed. They responded to these events by going about preaching the word (Acts 8:4).

And that is exactly what we should do. Senator Brown is no more the anointed savior than Barack Obama. He, like nearly everyone in this nation, is a lost person in need of salvation. We live in a moral & spiritual wasteland. We are not going to fix that politically (although we should vote as morally as we can). The good news that this country needs is not a new health care plan, or a new banking plan, they need the gospel plan. That is the only plan that will save them. Scott Brown is not going to deliver the gospel any more than Ted Kennedy did. The question is, are we?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just One Key

There are more than 80 keys on my keyboard. Nearly all o them work. The only one that does not work is the key (the one between d & g). It stopped working yesterday. But since all the rest o the key work ine, it will be OK. Or will it?

No, on second thought, I am going to have to go and buy a new keyboard. Even though 98% o the keys are doing their job, having one key out o order is making a mess o my work.

Oically, there are 142 members o this congregation. But some of them are unreliable, they do not engage in the work o the congregation on a consistent basis. They are like that key -- sometimes they work, but often they do nothing.

Having one key out o order messes up my typing, so what do you suppose your ailure to do your part does to the work o the church? Sure, we manage to get the work done somehow, but it does not look right. It takes all o the keys to type properly, and it takes all the members of the body for the church to unction as it should.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Who Has Come To the World

A recent article in House to House reminds me that there is a radical difference between the way Christians talk now, and the way the earliest Christians talked. Christians today are constantly bemoaning the state of the world. The phrase, "Look what the world has come to," sums up their attitude.

The early Christians had a different approach. No doubt they were equally aware of the evil in the world. In fact, judging from Romans chapters 1 through 3, they may have been more aware of human evil. But the attitude then was not "look what the world has come to." The early Christians were more often saying, "Look who has come to the world."

Yes, the world is in terrible shape. We must point that fact out to the few who have not noticed it. But, to the many who have already noticed the evil of this world, we must take the message of the world’s redemption.

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him." 1 John 4:9

Yes, the world is in rotten shape. But when we point that out, without pointing people to the solution, we are not helping; we are making matters worse. Let us point them to the one who has come to the world. Let us teach them the good news.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rx: Bib Overalls

Mr. Rutledge went to his doctor. The doctor told him to buy bib overalls, loose dress trousers and suspenders. He told him that if he would keep his clothes loose his blood pressure would go down ten to fifteen points. The doctor told Mr. Rutledge’s daughter (a nurse) to take her father’s blood pressure. Then he loosened his belt and collar and had her it again. It was down more than ten points.

Loose clothing is not a cure for all blood pressure problems, but it would help many people. Changes in eating habits would also cure a lot of high blood pressure. So why are people paying big money for pills when bib overalls and better eating would solve the problem (without all the side effects)? Bib overalls are not in style. People would rather pay big money for pills than to change the way they eat or the way they dress. Most doctors have learned to prescribe what is wanted, rather than what is most needed.

Church leaders face the same problem. People want an easy solution, one that does not involve any change of lifestyle. They want preaching that condones lukewarmness, or even open sin. Most preachers have learned to go along with what people want. Cheap grace is preached all over town. Short-list legalism is also popular. The straightforward preaching of the cross is almost unknown.

Paul never would have been stoned, if he just would have given the people what they wanted, instead of what they really needed. Paul never learned. I hope we never learn.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cannibals or Worms, Does It Matter?

John Patton wanted to be a missionary. He believed that the Lord wanted him to go to the Islands of the South Pacific with the gospel. Others thought him insane. One brother told him, “You will be eaten by the cannibals!” That was a very real possibility in the mid-19th century. John Patton’s reply was classic,

“Mr. Dickson, you are now advanced in years, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honouring my Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or worms; and in the Great Day my body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”

The danger of facing cannibals is now past, but are we not often held back from honoring the Lord because of some parallel (although lesser) fear? We need to take more seriously the words of our Lord, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:28-33