Preaching or Protesting

There are many differences between the world as it appears on television and the world as it is.  The people and lifestyles portrayed on our screens many times live very different lives than we do.  The amazing thing is that the shows that seem the most removed from reality are Reality television shows.   Most of us believe that we are normal (to a certain degree) and many times we are left wondering if we are abnormal.  Normal must be defined in a different way for the Christian than it is for the non-Christian.  It is normal for Christians to live as the Bible says they should and abnormal when they do not.  It is also normal for those who are not Christians to behave like the culture they live in.

It seems like every niche in our cultures is constantly propagating their definition of “normal” onto other segments of society.  One of the greatest vehicles or mediums to do this through is art and entertainment.  It is no secret that music, video, books, magazines, etc have the ability to captivate our time like nothing else.  It is amazing how we can be drawn into a fictional story, begin to care about the characters and even discuss plot-lines with other viewers.  Quotes and phrases from books, songs and movies work their way into everyday language and slowly become a part of our culture (even if briefly).  There is an amazing ability to influence people through these mediums.

A significant challenge for the Christian is to be in world but not of the world (John 15:19).  There is no other way to live.  We were born again out of the culture we were raised in and are now called to bring Christ back into that culture without allowing that culture to influence or corrupt our view of Christ.

The world in its many forms is going to constantly push itself onto the church.  Sin is more boldly displayed in the public lives of many to the point where it has gained a position of normalcy.  When we as Christians speak of the sinfulness of fornication, abortion, homosexuality, adultery, etc. many times we are looked upon as holdover relics from the distant past whose time has come and gone.  Does this mean that our doctrines, beliefs and values need to change to become more acceptable for the unbelieving world?  No.  It does mean that we must be more radical in our living than we are in our proclaiming of standards and truth.  Everyone and anyone can disagree or protest something they do not like.  The real power comes when the protest is led by actions that prove what you are saying is true.

I have found that the easiest words for many people to speak or write are those in criticism of something they don’t agree with.  I have no problem with anyone protesting or criticizing something they do not believe in or feel is right.  It is the heart of who we are as humans; to be able to express what lives inside of us.  Far too often the church falls into a protesting rut.  We constantly speak out against the sins and evils of our society in judgment; condemning the words, actions and lifestyles of those who are already lost without Christ.  The evils of the world and of sin are no longer the key factors in the separation of those who are lost from God.  Before you stone me as a heretic let’s read the famous verses:

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. (John 3:16-21)

The reason anyone who is lost is lost at this moment is because they do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

  • We can protest that homosexuals want to be homosexuals and be granted equal rights with heterosexuals.
  • We can protest that women with unwanted pregnancies want to have abortions.
  • We can protest that there is too much violence and sex on television.
  • We can protest the lyrics and stage antics of musicians.
  • We can protest that pornography is rampant and easily accessible to children and adults alike
  • We can protest that public education teaches evolution as fact and relegates belief in the Genesis of the Bible as myth or fairy tale.
  • We can protest, we can protest, we can protest

Before we undertake any endeavor, spiritual or natural we should be asking ourselves, “What is the goal?” Our goal must be to bring men and women to Christ.

Would I like to see a constitutional amendment in the U.S. defining marriage as the union of one man to one woman?  Yes.  Would I like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade?  Yes.  Would these legislative actions turn people to Jesus?  Probably not.

Many argue that people will find a way to do what they want to do; whether it is legal or not.  Would changing the laws of the land deter a portion of people considering some of these activities from doing them?  Sure, but it would not change their hearts.  We must remember that Christianity is not the outward conformity of our lives to the standards of the law of God, but the recreation of our dead human spirit by the power of the Spirit of God.  We are not restricting activity in observance of a religious code; we are being born again, receiving a new nature that changes the way we operate.

What is our goal in protest?

If it is to draw attention to a situation where people are being mistreated and asking our governments to correct injustices we have a duty to protest.

  • Chinese human rights violations need attention drawn to them.
  • The persecution of Christians in Darfur needs attention drawn to it.
  • The millions who live malnourished need attention drawn to them.

If our goal is to condemn sinners for their sinful activities we may be taking the wrong approach.  Those who spend eternity separated from God in a place called hell will do so because they refused redemption from their sins, not because of any specific sin they committed.

I know I am rambling a bit in this message, but I want to make a few points before I close.

The goal of Christianity is not to stop people from sinning; it is to bring people into a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  The natural byproduct of that relationship should be that we stop sinning and begin to live like Christ.

Our ability and willingness to speak the truth on any subject should never be compromised.  We must maintain vigilance of spirit and purity of heart in our daily lives.  We must, however, learn to speak to the heart of the matter and not get stuck in dealing with the manifestations of the heart.  In other words, sinful words and behavior are the manifestation of a heart that needs Jesus.  The real issue is not the specific sin being committed but the need to be redeemed from sin.  The heart must change before our actions can change and the only one who is qualified to change hearts is Jesus.

We cannot let the voice of the church be relegated to only speaking on hot button political issues in the public forum.  We cannot merely be seen as those who protest that which the Bible says is wrong.  We must change our voice to those who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the answer for the ills of our cultures and societies.  Speaking against a certain issue without the message of the gospel marginalizes the role of God and humanizes the church.

I’m all for morality, but not for morality’s sake.  There are many people with good morals separated from God because they do not have a relationship with Christ.  We must stop trying to moralize the world and return to evangelizing the world.  The solution to the problems of our culture is found in Jesus Christ.

Protest injustice, cruelty, human rights violations, etc., but remember they are no substitute for the preaching of the gospel.  Let’s stay focused on the main thing:  taking as many people to heaven with us as we can.

America & Christianity, Great Commission, My Little Sermons , , ,

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