Archive for January 9th, 2012

What’s going on?  The whole culture has changed.  We’re in a moral and ethical mess.  What has happened… and what can I do about it?

First, it’s important for the Christian to recognize that two worldviews are in conflict.  Man’s perspective on life opposes God’s.  The Biblical worldview is Creation, The Fall, and Redemption.  All questions of life can be answered by this worldview.  But, when man doubts the Creator and places himself as the ultimate authority, he is left with only evolving opinions about how life should be lived.

Second, history proves that whenever Christians stepped into the public square, the culture was dramatically affected.  In Rome, for example, unwanted children were placed outside the city gates and left to die, but Christians started orphanages or even welcomed abandoned children into their own homes through adoption.  It was common for sick people to be neglected, but Christians started hospitals and hospice care.  Women were too often considered property, but Christ-followers saw women as equal to and compatibly different from men.  This made Christianity worth thinking about.

Third, those who resist God want others to resist Him, too.  Passionate about their perspectives, they step into the public square — especially coveted areas of academia and the media — to influence others.  Passionate people are persuasive people with words and actions.  Labeling something “scientific” makes the idea “progressive” and worthy of consideration.  Labeling something “religious” implies personal, but antiquated beliefs unworthy of any modern thinker.  If you are “scientific,” you are intelligent and welcomed to dialogue.  If you are “religious,” you are clinging to “some faith superstition” and your views are fine for you but not for general consumption.  Since the 1950s, children taught “Bible stories” in Sunday school grew up to become students at the university where “science” ridiculed “faith stories.”  Zealous disciples of Darwin, Marx, Dewey, Kinsey, Sanger, and others replaced the disciples of Jesus in the cultural conversation.

Fourth, when Christians pull out of the public square to take refuge inside the walls of the church or keep their faith private, the culture suffers — in every area from marriage and family to education and ethics.  We miss huge opportunities to push back against evil and raise up a younger generation in Truth when we do not talk about what God has done throughout history (documented in His Word beginning in Genesis); when we let the “science” of evolution intimidate our faith in the Creator God; and when we assume our faith is a “private thing” not to be lived in the workplace, classroom, or neighborhood.  It’s true that there is strong opposition to Christianity in our time but, in the midst of the opposition, there are people everywhere crying out for answers to the critical issues of life.  If we believe Christ is the Hope of the world, don’t we also believe that His Word is applicable to the world?

Can one person  make a difference?  Yes.  How?  By being as bold, confidant, and passionate for God as those who oppose Him.  The Christian citizen living in a morally and ethically-bankrupt society makes the greatest difference when he/she fears (trusts) and loves God above all things.  Trusting God’s Word, we can use it to serve our  neighbor.  We serve our neighbors by:

  • Speaking God’s Word of Law in love to those not aware that they are making wrong choices.  We should always be prepared to contrast trendy opinions with God’s Word about our beginnings, the sanctity of human life, relationships, marriage and family, sexual behavior, health care, law, and ethics.
  • Speaking God’s Word of Gospel to those sorry for their sins and ready to live as changed people in Christ.

This culture is in need of ordinary people who make a difference right where we live.  Parents and grandparents faithful to God’s Word affect families and neighborhoods.  We don’t have to be an author, speaker, or teacher to impact the culture.  We can ask questions that help people think, confront issues, and entertain challenges. 

If we don’t have the answer to a particular question, we can promise to find out.  Heaven knows resources are as close as our fingertips.  Some of my favorites are the Colson Center for Worldview, Vision Forum, Stand to Reason, and Answers In Genesis.  Some of my favorite worldview authors include Nancy Pearcy, Chuck Colson, Frank Beckwith, Greg Koukl, C.S. Lewis, J. Budziszewski, Marvin Olasky, and Gene Edward Veith.

We can make the best of every opportunity.  If you can’t speak to a crowd, speak to one.  If you can’t speak at all, write a letter-to-the-editor or a personal note.  Keep your eyes open and ears attentive.  Many people are struggling in confusing situations.  They’re not looking for someone’s opinion, but for a life-changing word of hope.  I know that Word of hope, don’t you?

Small seeds planted by faithful people of God will grow a better culture.

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Megan is an all American girl.  Like other freshmen in college, she considers herself “modern.”  She communicates by iPhone and Facebook, is comfortable with her “sexuality,” strolls through Victoria’s Secret with her boyfriend, and, ready for a serious relationship, scheduled an appointment to discuss birth control with a Planned Parenthood counselor.

Megan also considers herself to be a Christian.  She attended church regularly with her parents.  She was educated in parochial schools.  Her friends are Christian.  She knows the Bible stories and sings praises to God. 

Megan believes Jesus is her Savior.  If you were to ask her if she is a creation of God, she would answer “Yes!”  She has been taught that she can talk to God as if talking to her daddy.  He is “Abba Father” and, Megan has been assured, there is nothing she can do to change this fact.  Even when Megan forgets to pray or skips worship for another activity or sins in any way, God remains her Heavenly Father.  This gives Megan comfort, especially when she’s lonely or troubled.  She adores her “awesome God” on Sundays.  But, on Mondays, she returns to the “real” world.

In the “real” world, Megan was sharing a bed with her boyfriend.  They were in love and being responsibly adult.  Planned Parenthood helped her to separate the act of sex from procreation.  One weekend while visiting her parents, Megan did the usual thing by attending church with them.  But, what happened took Megan by surprise.  This day, the pastor seemed to look right at her.  The Word he spoke did not comfort but, instead, convicted.  Megan heard him say that those who follow the flesh by being sexually immoral, impure, and sensual are in danger of missing heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).  Megan also heard him say that a new person in Christ is equipped to guard against passions and desires (vv. 23-24).

Megan was conflicted.  She did not leave church that morning in a good mood.  What did it mean to be a “new person?”  How did that fit with being a “sexual being” as she had been taught to see herself?  Couldn’t she love Jesus and know He died for her, yet be “modern” in her thinking and behavior?  In an honest moment with her parents, Megan expressed fear.  “I’ve always known God loves me, no matter what.  No matter what, right Dad?  Right, Mom?”  In a way, Megan was asking what so many Christians might be asking themselves: If disobedience or sin cannot make me less God’s child, what does it matter what I do?  Why is it so important to obey God?  Why can’t I just follow my instincts?  Do whatever feels right for me depending on the situation?  Won’t it all work out in the end?  After all, Jesus died so that my sins are forgiven!

This is most certainly true.  Jesus died for a world of sinners.  You.  Me.  Every person ever conceived.  But, dear Megan, our behavior matters.  Why?  Because our behavior changes our attitude toward God.  Evidence of this abounds.  It is seen in a culture that determines for itself what is “right” and “wrong.”  It is the Christian parent who asks the pastor not to speak about the sin of living together lest his daughter co-habitating with her fiancé stops coming to church.  It is the pro-life Christian who has four children but isn’t married to any of their daddies.  It is the Christian woman whose choice of clothing reflects her glory rather than God’s and, intentionally or not, becomes a temptress.  It is the Christian father who, fearing for his daughter’s future, insists she have an abortion.  It is the Christian mother who defends her son’s homosexual lifestyle, saying, “God made him that way.”  It is whole bodies of Christians who want Jesus to wrap Himself around the desires of their hearts. 

The heart, says the world, is good and can be trusted.  The heart, says God’s Word, is deceptive and not to be trusted.   Ah, the fickle human heart!  It is influenced by the world and our own sinful flesh to oppose the Lord God even while it thinks it is still clinging to Him.   

Is Megan doing what we Christians too often do?  She knows she is saved and has the promise of heaven.  But, does she want God to fit her world?  She acknowledges God as her Creator but, depending on her circumstance, does she re-define what He has made?   She says Jesus is her Savior, but does He have anything to say about her relationships and choices?  She finds hope in being a “new person in Christ,” but is she talking and walking like a sinner bound to sin?    

Megan’s identity matters.  She is a child of God because of what Jesus did for her.  She has divine possibilities.  A rich inheritance.   Megan’s behavior also matters.  How does a daughter honor her Father?  How does she reflect His kind of love?  Patience?  Kindness?  Purity?   Megan’s identity as a child of God will never change.  But, her choices and behavior can change her attitude toward God.  Even place her inheritance at risk.

Our identity and behavior matter.  When we separate our God-given identity from the “real” world identity we give ourselves (at any given time, in any given circumstance), we are in danger.  We are in danger when we re-define things of God such as the value of human life, being male or female, purity, and marriage.  We are in danger when we follow instincts of the flesh and stubbornly defend every personal choice.  We are in danger when we exchange His Truth for our opinion.  These are dangerous behaviors that change our attitude toward God.  It is the most dangerous thing of all to make God what we want Him to be.

But, when children of God trust His Word to be living, active, and mighty in “real” life, our perspective of the world changes.  It does not hold us captive.  It is temporary.  It is a place we journey through on our way home to our Father’s Kingdom.  It is opportunity to think, speak, dress, work, play, love, care, and choose in ways that encourage others to ask: “Who is your Father?”  “Why do you do the things you do?” “What is your hope?”

Megan is the King’s daughter with a divine inheritance in store.  This is compelling reason to live a more noble and holy life.  A life with divine possibilities.   A life that reflects God rather than self.  A life that makes a difference in a “real” world.

T2-4Life  is a mentoring ministry that exists to help young ones make choices that 
reflect the holiness of God, but also remind older ones that mistakes of the past do 
not have dominion over changed people in Christ.  You are welcome to visit T2-4Life.

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