By Matt Dawson
It’s been 5 full days since the highest court in the land decided to define marriage as a right for ALL people. This has sent a serge of activity through social media as the new rotating billboard for our opinions and thoughts. People are responding in joy, anger, grief, and confusion over what has happened and what will happen next.
At first, I was pretty disgusted by most of what I saw on social media. Some tweets from our President about a “more perfect union” made my stomach turn, but not nearly as much as some Facebook posts from high profile Christian leaders saying “get ready for God to judge our nation!”.
Both of these positions made me lose my lunch and not want to eat for most of the day. Around day 3 – I began to read some pretty helpful and insightful posts and articles about our current state of affairs and I began to be encouraged by their words.
However, many folks are still spinning, not sure of the next step. Everyone is assuming the worst of each other right now, it’s a touchy time for our country. Rainbow up your profile – you think God is a liar. Don’t do it – you obviously hate gay people. It’s the epitome of a lose lose scenario.
The purpose of my blog today is to help those who are saying, “Okay… Now What? Where do we go from here? How do we navigate the coming months?”
I have 3 suggestions for Followers of Christ as we move forward with hope:
1. Recognize What HAS and HAS NOT Changed
It’s important to step back from an emotional conversation sometimes and re-evaluate what has ACTUALLY happened. This helps bring CLARITY to next steps and brings WISDOM to our words and actions.
What Has Changed
Laws are changing. Our culture is changing. Churches are changing. This is nothing new. Sin is not new. People’s desire to justify our sin is not new. People feel that our nation is moving further away from God, this is also not really new. The Supreme Court just legislated a law…well – that is actually new (and scary).
I think the change that we will struggle with the most is that Christians are not the “moral majority” voice right now. This means that making choices to follow Jesus are going to get harder and harder and will contrast more with “the rules” of our culture. This will challenge us as followers – because it won’t be as easy to be a follower of Jesus and just blend in. There may even be some persecution for our convictions (more about that in suggestion #2).
What Has NOT Changed
Pretty much everything we’ve ever been called to do as Christians has NOT actually changed. Exalt God, repent of sin, love our neighbors as ourselves, share the grace of God with others, and humbly point people to the absolute Hope of Jesus.
None of this has actually changed. God expects from us what He has always expected from us (around the world) to love Him, and love others, so that everyone will KNOW that we belong to God!
2. Love Our “Enemies”
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven”
Jesus had a way of taking complex truths and stating them in a very simple way. How do we act like we are true children of God? Love those who persecute us and pray for them.
He goes on to say that if we only love those who love us…we’re just like everyone else. Prior to this verse he addressed those that desire to take advantage of us, and He said if someone slaps you, give them your other check. If they take your jacket, give them your shirt too. Jesus didn’t mince words – He was as simple and clear as He could be.
We may begin to see more and more persecution for what we believe and how we live in the days to come. This is not actually new to anyone else in the world, but it will be for most of us reading this blog. Yet, no matter what persecution comes, our hatred and judgment towards others is NEVER justified by Jesus. He called us to LOVE them.
Most Christians are hearing from conservative leaders that it’s time to “fight back,” to “win back our nation” for God. To put those sinners in their place and cast judgement with righteous indignation! God knows what’s going on in our country. He hasn’t made any exceptions for us “western Christians” to skip this fundamental calling of Jesus. Love those who persecute you.
3. Trust God
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church…God will judge those outside…”
1 Corinthians 5:12-13
As Christians, we’ve sort of perfected the habit of justifying our judgment of those who don’t believe like us. Yet Paul, when talking about judging others, makes a pretty hard case that we are NOT to judge those who don’t believe like us, BUT to actually judge those INSIDE the church (other Christians). Wow… did we get it wrong or what?
We need to TRUST GOD. He’s going to handle it. We were never called to be the judge of the world’s moral behavior. We were called to obey and live out the ideals and instructions of God to a watching world and show them that God’s way is BEST!
There is NO JUDGEMENT in that. No one can CONDEMN us for living out the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control – against such things there is no law).
God will judge those outside of the faith, so He doesn’t need our help to condemn people. He needs us to live out FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE (and the greatest of these is LOVE).
These 3 suggestions may not help you – but I pray you will consider them as you begin to ask the question “now what?”
Our family pastor Don Gentry shared on social media his determination to move forward with Hope, so I’ll end my blog post with a quote from His Facebook post:
“The good news is that God’s grace is not limited to a nation’s decisions, and I will continue to love others regardless of their position or politics, and I will continue to offer hope where darkness resides, and I will continue to point people to a holy, righteous, loving, and redemptive savior.”
– Don Gentry
Use these 3 Suggestions. Recognize what has and hasn’t changed, love your “enemies,” and trust God! I pray that despite our emotions about our current circumstances, we will choose to move forward together with Hope!