“I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
“If the world hated Me, it will hate you…”
JESUS, 1st CENTURY
“Who is on the Lord’s side?”
MOSES, CIRCA 15th CENTURY BC
In the aftermath of the recent foiling of an ostensibly Al Qaeda terrorist plot in England, a British politician was interviewed on Fox News calling for stricter measures to be taken against all fundamentalist ideologies. “Not just Al Qaeda,” he pontificated, “but with any group that is narrow-minded enough to see its way as the only way.”
Are you hearing this, follower of Christ?
In Canada, our neighbors to the north, sermons from pastors in America that mention certain sins are not allowed on their airwaves. Shari’a laws there make it illegal to speak against Islam and Mohammed but no such laws exist to deter anyone from speaking against Christ. Earlier this year, Danish political cartoons depicting Mohammed as a terrorist were stricken from international papers and the world called out its collective protest all the while our Jesus was undergoing a revisionist makeover in “The DaVinci Code” and the public was eating it up!
A pastor in Sweden received a jail sentence of 30 days for calling homosexuality “abnormal” and a “horrible cancer” on society. Two pastors in Australia were brought up on similar charges for breaking “incitement laws”. Laws against intolerance and “hate speech” are gathering steam all over the globe—in so-called ‘free’ countries! In our own America, land of the free, hate speech laws are being considered in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and pastors are watching to see if, very soon, their pulpits will no longer be “free speech” zones. Guess America really is the home of the brave…
Jesus said it would come, and it’s here, folks.
There are two distinct streams operating among our youth today. There are some youth who are wearing the yoke of their predecessors: a Cross-less, make-no-demands, non-invasive, live-a-good-life-and-get-your-ticket-punched ideal. Praise God, there are others who are embracing the Cross and holding onto it for dear life!
Dr. Christian Smith, the lead researcher for the National Study of Youth and Religion, a large sociological survey of the religious beliefs of teens between 13 and 17, reaches many of the same conclusions regarding the religious life of teens. According to Dr. Smith, no matter what religion the surveyed youth professed, in general their actual religious outlook was what Dr. Smith characterizes as “MORALISTIC THERAPEUTIC DEISM.”
This is a religious worldview featuring an undemanding, distant god, whose only commandment is to be “nice,” and who doesn’t become involved in anyone’s life except when he is needed to take care of a problem. This religion, according to Smith, conceives of its god as “… a combination of a divine butler and a cosmic therapist.”
Rather than being commanded to take up his cross and follow Christ, the Moralistic Therapeutic Deist believes that “… the central goal in life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”
Unfortunately, this is not merely a problem with teens—increasing numbers of ostensibly Christian adults and a growing number of pastors hold these views in whole or in part. Like the world, the modern professing church is egocentric, thinking God exists for their own happiness rather than His glory. God help us.
Cross-bearing Christians are gradually being exposed and while we may be tempted to mimic the disciples on the eve of the crucifixion by scrambling for swords and a “bring ‘em on” mentality, we must hear Christ say, “Enough of that talk!” (see Luke 22:38) He told them, “He who takes up a sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:56). Rather, we must mimic the Christ of the Upper Room earlier that same evening, washing the feet of the disciples. He instructed them not to take up swords but towels.
One of the saddest stories to come out of London last week was this: among the terrorists taken into custody was a young married couple with a six-month old baby. Just today, this young mother was seen in jail breast-feeding her baby, the very one she was going to send to its horrible death days earlier. While there are some religions that encourage, even praise such unbalanced behavior, the voice of Christ is calling out to His followers to a life of love and sacrifice. (By the way, the kind of sacrifice that blesses others and inconveniences only the giver, not so-called sacrifice that brings everyone else around down with them! Re: homicide bombers and cowardly hijackers…)
We do not preach a gospel of HATE! The followers of Christ are sickened by any “heads will roll” ideology directed at any who would not see things their way. Force will never convert anybody. It is the towel and the basin, the heart of a servant, the offering of one’s self in love and sacrifice—even to those who condemn and persecute—that will close the gap of the ever widening dividing line.
The true God is love (1 John 4:8,16). And His followers toe that line!