In these past weeks of Supreme Court rulings and inexcusable church burnings, I have been disappointed but not astounded, disenchanted but not disenfranchised. Like many, I have purposely refrained from a knee-jerk reaction and have instead taken these days to reflect and pray.
As one who longs to live a life worthy of the me Christ’s grace has already made possible, I am obligated to approach all the craziness of this world with two overriding principles:
- To make God the first and greatest priority in my life. Everything else comes second.
- To love everyone else the way I too want to be loved.
If I make God the first priority in my life, that means I spend time in His Word, and that time means that I will be able to test what others say against what the Bible actually proclaims. I will not agree with whatever the media says is OK or all my “friends” think is right without first testing the correctness of a stance against what God’s Word actually has to say about it.
In order to do that well, I have to be regularly and often in the Word. I also have to understand that Word in its totality, not just pick and choose the verses that best serve my own interests. For example, I need to understand that many of the verses that speak out against homosexuality also are against any form of sexual immorality. That includes sex outside of marriage and people who are married to spouses who were not Biblically divorced. In other words, the Bible is against a slew of activities no one has been too riled up about for far too long.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul gives a focus for what the Christian church should concentrate on not doing as well as doing:
When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:19-23 NLT)
Notice that, to God, any and all of this comprehensive list of “don’ts” are on equal footing. We humans want to put sin on a sliding scale, but God does not. In other words, if I really take Christ’s admonition to take care of the moat in my own eye before worrying about the speck in anybody else’s, I have much too much to worry about improving in my own behavior to get into the business of anybody else’s.
This concept doesn’t mean I consider any behavior by someone else OK. From a truly Christian perspective, there is no “live and let live.” If I am not acting in alignment with the Word of God, I want my fellow Christians to gently point this out to me. I want them to go so far as to shut me out of the community for a time if that is necessary in order to potentially bring me back into alignment with God’s Word. I want them to pray for me unceasingly.
For those who do not walk with Christ, I can disagree without condemning. I can hold to the Truth without leaving a feeling of hatred in the hearer. But I can only do these things if I am actively seeking to see the non-believers around me through the eyes of my loving God. Just as Jesus held those around Him to God’s truth through compassion and a firmness for that truth, I too can seek to do the same.
If Christ is our Savior, then we strive to be loving, patient, joyful, kind, good, faithful. We also strive to stay away from the behaviors that displease God, from lying and being jealous to hating and being sexually immoral. These times we live in are challenging, which means that now, more than ever, we Christians must live our faith. And if we are really doing that, we will be much too busy to get caught up in the political machinations of this world that detract us from what is truly important–the potential relationship with the Savior of the world each one of us has the right to claim.