Thursday, February 5, 2009

hold fast to the word of life

Philip. 2:12-18 (ESV)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
[14] Do all things without grumbling or questioning, [15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, [16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. [17] Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. [18] Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning that you may be blameless and innocent children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.
Of course we still live amongst this crooked and twisted generation. So shine like lights, abandon the Kulture kampf, the culture war. More and more, I come to believe that if we win that battle we will lose the war. The problem here is the church is trying to legislate “gospel.” We need to return and hold fast to the word of life, the true gospel. We can’t legislate the gospel. Legislation is for law, not gospel, not sanctification. I by no means want to say we should disengage culture. But somewhere along the way we let power corrupt us perversely in the Constantinian era. The early Christians weren’t intent on passing laws, they lived by them. They had a morality that was distinct. It made them stand out. But they weren’t compelled to pass laws forcing their morality on others. If others wanted to visit a brothel they visited a brothel, the Christians abstained. If others wanted to practice sodomy, they practiced sodomy, and no one care if the state recognized that relationship or not. Christians abstained from it, even if they had that temptation. Because Christians were first and foremost worried about holding fast to the word of life, Jesus Christ, the gospel. Christians knew that if the people could not confess Jesus as Lord than there weren’t any laws that were going to save them. You can’t legislate belief in the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins. Sure the Christians knew that it was a selfish and loveless act to visit brothels and practice sodomy and generally take advantage of others for your own gratification. That is why they abstained. In abstaining they shined like lights in the world. But passing laws? The laws are helpless.
I always get this question of what should we do about the declining morality of culture. I understand the angst a parent has watching their child grow up in this too. Drugs, sex, and general nihilism of the culture. But the answer isn’t more laws. The answer is love and it is the gospel. Let the gospel take hold of your life. Don’t busy yourself with your neighbor’s sin and how to correct it. Pay attention to yourself, and your sin. IF your neighbor asks for help give it. But don’t give it unsolicited. Raise your children to be aware of what is going on in the world. Don’t shelter them, or be mad because that is increasingly difficult. Let the world go to hell, passing a law isn’t going to turn it off that track. But shine like a light house on the shore, so when the ship hits a reef, a few might see where to swim. And when they reach throw them a life line, give them Jesus, tell them of forgiveness that they too might hold fast to the word of life.


Brigitte said...

"Let the world go to hell, passing a law isn’t going to turn it off that track."

What are laws for then? And what is this "culture war"? Do we have this in Canada? Everyone is so disengaged, here.

And how do you engage and not engage the culture?

Though, I agree the church might be shooting itself in the foot with much politics. The other day the Roman Catholic Bishop spoke out against the oil sands projects in Ft. McMurray, and my first reaction was: there you go, now the projects will surely go ahead.

Bror Erickson said...

The law is powerless to save. This culture war bit is an attempt to get people to act like Christians, which in turn makes people resent Christianity. We can't make them be Christians the best we can do is throw them in prison for not acting like one.
The best laws can do on earth is curb behavior disruptive to peace. And that is well and good, but you don't have to be a "Christian" to understand murder is wrong.
In short, the point is Christian should focus a bit more on living by their morals, and not force others to do the same.
I think we start engaging culture the way the early Christians did, before they were corrupted by earthly power. We need to reexamine that heritage of ours. Engage the culture one person at a time.
I bet that Roman Catholic thought he was quite hip, as he tried to undercut the pay and work of his own parishioners.