I have a file where all of the “one another” passages are put together. One day I may, or may not, create a sermon and preach through them. However, I really think I never will. However, there is much value in reading and thinking about that little phrase, which is just one word in the Greek. In this great infographic we see how they stack up with each other and what are the key points that are emphasized. Shout out to the Overview Bible Project who put this together. Lord knows I would just mess the whole thing up.
Well that was fast. Shortly after the news of World Vision’s decision to redefine marriage and hire same-sex couples, they now have reversed that decision. On one level that is fine and good. I am glad they did it but I am not impressed by it. Consider how it is framed:
- “they made a mistake. . . .”
- we were merely trying to serve the poor but in the process “we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith”
- “We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent.”
- “While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.”
I spend a lot of time helping Christians who sin and need to properly repent think through the process. I would never counsel anyone who has sinned to use this type of terminology.
Note first how it is framed in “oops” terminology. We made a mistake. You know, like turning left instead of right at the intersection. Or maybe it is like taking down measurements of a room and writing down 12 1/2 feet instead of 12 feet. We all know there was no mistake. No one in that room who crafted and approved the change of policy that created this whole mess looked at it later on and said, “Dude! Where did those words about homosexual Christians and marriage come from?” An organization that size doesn’t write formal policy changes on a whim, it flows from many strategy meetings and discussions at the highest levels.
Second, note how it keeps this whole discussion on a interpersonal level. There is no sense in any way that there was sin even though the board was approached in a Matthew 18 sort of way. Where is the sense of dismay because they sinned against God? Read it in its entirety and you will find nothing there. This is the most egregious aspect of the whole thing. A couple of days ago they decide that marriage is something that man defines and they don’t want to tear apart churches on such a divisive thing such as same-sex marriage. You see, it is all about Christian love and unity. They decide that you can be gay and Christian. But then, when all hell breaks loose they decide it was an oopsy and they are sad that people are sad and hurt.
When you find yourself on the wrong side of what the bible says you are not resisting man, culture, or belief systems. You are resisting God. You sin against Him and you are accountable to Him to repent and actively turn from that sin. You are to embrace what He calls true and you are to hate evil. I am glad they reversed their decision. But I am not impressed. Nothing at all has really changed if we are judge this through the lens of their apology. The same convictions that ultimately led to their first policy change are still there, they just pulled back on policy so that they could not be smacked about anymore.
After a few weeks in the hospital and then recovery I am blessed to be back in in the pulpit again. My text is from Romans 16:17-19 and it is powerful in it forthrightness and its consequences.
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
Here is a church that is powerful in its witness before an unsaved world and before other churches throughout the world. What a commendation! And what a goal and desire for any church. But it comes with a warning for Satan hates those who obey the gospel, for they have a nasty habit of being powerfully used by God to destroy the works of Satan through the gospel. So Paul knows that there shall arise within this church both the one who shall create infighting and disunity and those who shall teach falsely so as to draw the saints away from the sound doctrine that they know.
Why? For these people are not about the work of the Lord’s kingdom. Though they have much to say and they claim many good things, the propulsion of the gospel forward into a dark world is not their delight. They are servants of their own desire and not servants of the Most High.
So what to do? Simple, keep a close eye on them. Never let them out of your sight. And AVOID them. Not befriend them, not debate them, not engage them. But avoid them.
What stood out for me in all of this is that the church often has it all backward. We avoid those outside the church and we tolerate all sorts of evil within the church out of a twisted sense of love. But here, when these false Christians come into the church we don’t tolerate them at all, we find them and then we avoid them.
My prayer is that this will be abundantly and humbly made to my congregation today.