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Archive for May, 2012

Hating love

So, now we’re “insensitive” and “harsh” and “judgmental” if we agree with God’s judgments and repeat what He says about sin?

Well, not all sins, just some sins.

Ok, it’s actually just one sin (child molesting can still be denounced without apology). But one sin is clearly off limits and immune from all denunciation no matter who you are or where you are.

Homosexuality.

You can’t even say that marriage should be restricted to males covenanting together with females. Cause, if you do, you’re “a hater” — and don’t try to deny it, it’s obvious to the rest of us — no matter what you say to the contrary. Clearly, you hate people who are not like you — and the sooner you admit it, the sooner you can enroll in a “sensitivity class” and learn how to “tolerate” and love others, something which you obviously don’t know how to do at present.

And unbelievers and atheists are not the only ones saying this. Today, among those clucking their tongues and “tsk-tsking” under their breaths, are fellow evangelicals who are supposed to believe that the Bible is God’s Word.

So that if I quote what God says about homosexuality and say “Amen” I’m labelled harsh and unloving by a brother who says he believes the Bible to be the one rule of faith and life like I do! He might even pull out the “P” word (“Pharisee”) as he denounces my self-righteous, ungracious, unloving, ugly, hateful, boorish, bad-smelling self.

Ok, so what are we to make of all this?

There was a time when most people believed that “God is love.” But those days are gone. Seriously. They’re gone. How can I say that? Follow me for a moment:

If God is love, then His Word is good (and not evil) and loving (not hateful). And to agree with Him and live in accordance with His word is not an expression of hatred but the opposite. And further, to disagree with God’s Word is not loving, but hateful. It’s not showing compassion or mercy, but indifference and callousness.

But we don’t believe this anymore.

And that accounts for much of the weirdness of the present hour: If I agree with those who reject God’s judgments, I’m called “loving” — when the truth is, I’m demonstrating nothing but calloused indifference and hatred to those around me. God says “homosexuality” is an abomination and will surely be judged. When I disagree with that, I’m saying to all those who are homosexuals, “Hey, you know what? go to hell and see if I care — cause I don’t!” But at least they will think I love them — and I guess I’m supposed to be comforted by that in some way.

On the other hand, if I truly care about homosexuals, then I have to tell them the truth about what they are doing (i.e., it is wrong, sinful, and abominable in God’s sight — but there is forgiveness and restoration and freedom from condemnation in Jesus). But if I do this, I’ll be called “hateful” — when in fact, I’m demonstrating nothing but the sincerest compassion and love for them. I really don’t want them to be condemned. But they will think I hate them. And call me bad names.

This is what happens when you live in a world where men love hatred and hate love. That’s the world we live in today. Men hate to be loved and love to be hated.

And here’s why: Men hate God. And because they hate God, they hate true love. God is love and thus if you hate Him, real love often appears unattractive and offensive. So consequently, men erroneously judge many manifestations of love as expressions of hatred. And, conversely, they view many expressions of hatred as manifestations of love. The result is, men love to be hated and hate to be loved.

And this hatred of love goes even further: Those who think God’s judgments are harsh and insensitive are in fact claiming to be more sensitive and loving than God Himself. Obviously, if Yahweh were properly sensitive, He would never have said such harsh and unloving things. So their denunciation of those who honor God’s judgments is ultimately, a hateful denunciation of God as well.

Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18). That’s it. Their hatred of us is ultimately a hatred of Him — it is a hatred of love.

It’s always taken great courage to love. And it still does today. Will you love those who have fallen to the temptation to homosexuality? If so, then speak the truth to them, stand with Jesus, extend the hope of the gospel, and don’t be shocked when some respond to your love with hatred (in the name of love).

When that happens, continue to be like God. Keep loving, keep speaking the truth, keep showing compassion. Even when those you are loving view and treat you as an enemy.

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Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day, the day on which the Church   commemorates the ascension of our Savior in glory to the right hand of His Father as the ruler of all creation, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This, coupled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was the climax of Jesus’ work . . . and yet it is almost completely ignored by the world and even by most Christians. Why so?

Some have suggested that contrary to Christmas and Easter, Ascension is difficult to sentimentalize.

At Christmas, we can focus upon a baby born to a poor, homeless couple in the middle of winter. And at Easter, we can turn our thoughts to “new beginnings” and “second chances” — but Ascension simply tells us, and tells us bluntly, that Jesus is Lord.

That’s unsettling and offensive to a world that has been trained to think of itself as its own “lord.” You don’t have to be a discerning theologian to understand that if the ascension really happened, if in fact Jesus is the Lord of all lords and the King of kings — then He is the Judge of all the earth, and you can’t safely (or sanely) ignore Him.

If Jesus is Lord, no matter how independent you might imagine yourself to be, you are not out from under His authority. You actually have an obligation to obey Him and you are accountable to Him for your disobedience and unbelief, for every word that proceeds out of your mouth and for every deed you do.

If Jesus is Lord and King, then you have an obligation to worship and serve Him and if you don’t, you’re going to be in big trouble.

This is a BIG DEAL. Jesus is Lord. Not the government. Not your conscience. Not your feelings. Not the experts. Not the power-brokers, or the wealthy, or the influential.

All men, all nations, all institutions, all areas of life, all of it, is under the authority of Jesus and all are accountable to Him.

The ascension means that you have only one Lord whom you must please — Jesus. It means that you have only one opinion that matters. It means you have only one word that is the rule of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error — Jesus’ word.

The ascension means you have only One who has the authority to judge you and is fully and completely qualified to do so — Jesus.

The ascension means that all nations should acknowledge Jesus as their true king and ruler. It means that all laws ought to be conformed to His revealed will. It means that all men ought to seek to please Him in their every endeavor, in every place, at all times.

The ascension is a big deal. And this makes the ascension a problem for the world — a big problem — so, it is much safer to ignore it altogether.

But if the world ignores it, that means that Christians ought to make today (and this coming Sunday) a day of jollification and celebration that is rivaled only by Christmas and Easter. We need to hold us a genuine wingding and a proper whoop-te-do to rejoice over the reality that Jesus is Lord.

If the world doesn’t want to hear about it, so much the worse for them — but that doesn’t change the reality: Jesus is Lord. He reigns.

Don’t fight it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t deny it. The only proper response is to kiss the Son (Psalm 2).

And join us in our merry celebration, because Jesus is Lord.

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