US Liberty or Libertines: Church and Society

Pondering the news from the Harris Poll yesterday that Millennials are less tolerant of others on progressive social issues has me a bit dumbfounded. It gives me hope that America might be on the brink of a newfound morality, but doesn’t Jesus call us to love, not just tolerate? Walking a thin line between grace and judgment is the path we Christians tread: hating sin, loving the sinner; standing for something, so we don’t fall for anything. We’re living in the tension between Fourth of July freedom and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. That clause says that all laws must apply to everyone. It’s about properly defining the common good for our society, and balancing that with our individual or constituency group’s preferences.

Alexis de Tocqueville, in visiting the US in the 1830’s, said, “America is great because America is good.” Polarization on issues has inflamed Congress and Churches alike. Jesus implored in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” How salty are we? Is the Church composed of paragons of virtue, or panderers of moral relativity?

It’s so easy to believe that God wants us to be forgiven, but being “saved” doesn’t just mean having our tickets punched for heaven. That notion makes heaven about us more than an eternal worship of God. In our own self-centered American way, we have made the after-life another what’s-in-it-for-me consumer product – a sad commentary on our priorities. No, we’re saved not just for heaven, but for now. “Saved” means “changed.” Its that big word that maybe our Millennials are grasping better than the rest of us: Sanctification. Sanctification is believing that, through the power of the HOLY Spirit, Jesus died to save us FROM our sins; i.e., keep us from them, deliver us, and set us free. That’s the kind of freedom we need to celebrate on July 4th!

The Equal Protection Clause has been mistakenly co-opted by people and courts to mean that everybody can do whatever they want, no matter what. Orthodox Christendom says, “Not at all!” The Equal Protection Clause is really a way to determine how WE can live together in commonly agreed upon ways that support the protection of what’s right and the punishment of what’s wrong. None of us should be able to do whatever we want to without regard for common decency.

But, to those who say that the church should stay out of the public sphere, I say it’s impossible. If we truly want the world to be a better place and honor God’s laws, we must obey Jesus’ words and be the salt of the earth. If not, we’re doomed and the world is doomed with us.

Here’s a wake-up call story: A guy wanting to buy some salt went into a little Mom and Pop grocery store and asked, “Do you sell salt?” “Ha!” said the owner. “Do we sell salt? Just look!”

The owner proceeded to show the customer an entire wall of shelves stocked with nothing but salt: Morton salt, iodized salt, kosher salt, sea salt, rock salt, garlic salt – every kind of salt imaginable. The customer couldn’t say anything but “Wow!”

The owner said, “This ain’t nothing. I’ve got more!” So, the store owner showed the customer a backroom that was filled with more and more salt everywhere. There were boxes, bags, and bins of salt. The owner in a daring way said, “Well, what do you think? Do we sell salt?” The customer exclaimed, “Oh, yeah! You’ve got salt to sell! This is unbelievable!”

The owner then said, “There’s more!” and led the customer down some steps to the basement. The basement was huge, at least triple the size of the backroom, and it was filled from floor to ceiling with, you guessed it, more salt of every kind, even 20 lb. salt-licks for cattle. “Incredible,” said the customer. “You really do sell salt!” Then the owner said, “Yep, except for one small thing. We almost never ever sell any, but that salt salesman – hoo-boy, does he sell salt!”

Paraphrasing Jesus, “Salt that stays on the shelf doesn’t do any good at all.” Come on, Church, let’s get to work and help the US and the world to know the transforming grace of Jesus Christ!

13 thoughts on “US Liberty or Libertines: Church and Society

  1. This is extremely well done. Congratulations for getting it right! Ambrose Schwallie

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Tim, It seems to me that “Conservative” Christians think “Progressive” Christians are not Christians at all . . . not right, not saved, not good, and totally wrong. Can that be possible? Does it make sense that people who trust in Jesus Christ for their Salvation are actually not Saved, because they disagree with people who believe that every law and every pronouncement made to and by the believers from thousands of years ago is still absolutely binding on the believers of today? One thing that makes this prejudice illogical is that any modern Christian or Jew or Muslim who obeyed every dictum of the Old Testament in today’s world would end up in the electric chair or some other form of capital crime punishment. We cannot honor a law, even one purported to be from God, that says we are to kill our children who dishonor and disobey us, and kill psychics, and kill homosexuals, and kill people who disagree with our theology as we do with theirs. There may have been logical reasons for those harsh OT laws thousands of years ago, but we live in a totally different world than they did. Jesus described God in a totally different way from the way Moses saw God. Jesus emphasized God’s Love and Moses saw God as a stern, harsh, God of war, God of Execution, God of Wrath, God of Judgment. It is very uncomfortable to me to be continuously placed in the position of pointing out that the Bible is inconsistent and that to treat the Bible 100% as a list of rules for living in the 21st century is an anachronistic misunderstanding of God who always speaks to the people of today. People will speak simplistically of Jesus saying such things as, “Jesus said not one jot or tittle of the Law will be changed,” but I remind them that the same Jesus told Peter to ignore the dietary laws of the OT, and the same Jesus equated lust with adultery and anger with murder, both of which are major revisions to 2 of the 10 Commandments. Jesus equated divorce and remarriage with adultery which would be a shock to some of the most prominent of God’s people who were called righteous in the OT. Since half (at least) of the Christians in America, many of them so called Conservatives (what does that even mean), are divorced and remarried, they are all living in adultery and are incapable of repenting that away (how can they undo it), and yet the so called Conservative ones stand in judgment of those Christians whose reality is that they are different from the norm in that they have the same urge and love of someone of their own gender rather than the heterosexual feelings of the norm. Making this ever more ironic or nonsensical, Jesus (as well as God’s hand written 10 Commandments) made no mention of homosexuality. In fact, homosexuality is only mentioned in questionable relationship with God’s words in places like Leviticus in areas that speak very much to the issues Moses had to deal with in governing a Bible described “stiff necked people” and the Apostle Paul who admitted at least in one place that he sometimes wrote his own opinion, having had no witness from the Lord on those occasions. How many times might he have not mentioned that was also the case? Isn’t the issue of the majority over riding the needs, realities, difficulties of the minority always at the center of the ugliest most unChristian times in our history as a country? Being so called Conservative does not equate being good or being Christian or being God’s only children. I doubt very passionately that Jesus’ fellow Jew considered him Conservative. If they did not consider him revolutionary and even heretical, they certainly considered him liberal in his understanding of the Law and the Prophets. Why then, do the Conservatives (so called) feel that Jesus is not everybody’s Jesus, but THEIR Jesus? There are too many cases where the secular world has actually attained a level of love and grace and mercy that the Church SHOULD conform to. It is not those cases where conforming is harmful. Conforming to evil and true immorality is harmful to the Body, but conforming to humanity’s evolution in grace, mercy, forgiveness, and charity is not wrong. There are cases where atheists and other secularists are more Jesus like than we Christians at least in terms of actions toward others if not in spiritual things.

    I despise labels. Labeling is a lazy way to define the differences between human beings. Nevertheless, I would have called myself a Conservative person most of my life, because it was not my desire or custom to speak profanely, sacrilegiously or with vulgarity. I was a virgin until I married my beloved wife with whom I have now been married 51 years. I was called into the ministry, not by the Church but by the Spirit of God as a teenager. I never broke the law. I never rebelled against or disobeyed my parents. I always worked hard for the sake of doing a good job and being productive. I’ve carried on an interior confersation with God since I was 3 years old at least. I was never condemning of others simply because they were different from me. And yet, now in this more modern age when I see the people who claim the title of Conservative, at least for many of them, I don’t understand what they mean when they use that title. In most cases, it seems to me that so called Progressives and so called Liberals are the more Christian in their actions toward others. How can so called Conservatives and so called Evangelicals believe that supporting and endorsing and in some cases worshipping Donald Trump not see the absolute inconsistency in him and what they say they believe in. How can they identify someone like him as compatible with a Christian lifestyle and yet so repudiate two people who are in love and are monagomous with each other and yet happen to be of the same sex. Even more inconceivable to me is how some so called Conservatives believe that so called Liberals cannot be Christians.

    Your article seems to be very sure about what things are sin and which “sinners” are the sinners that “we” should love, but what if sin is related to the age we live in? What if today, God is thinking that people who have too many babies are overpopulating the planet in a sinful way? What if God is thinking today that people who eradicate their enemies instead of turning them into friends are the real sinners as opposed to the way Moses and Joshua and David saw it thousands of years ago? What if God is thinking that nationalism is evil today as opposed to the ways he instructed Moses and the other leaders of Israel in the OT? In other words, what if when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan what he was saying was the opposite of much of the teaching in that part of the OT when Moses made a lot of the rules that Christians seem to believe are still vital to how we conduct our lives today?

    I don’t know if you can feel my frustration at what I hear coming constantly from the voices who claim the labels Conservative or Evangelical, and I don’t know if you can understand it, but if you are one of the ones who feel that being Progressive or Liberal is antithetical to being a Christian, then I don’t understand you at all.

    Bob

    > On Jun 25, 2019, at 5:02 PM, A Potter’s View wrote: > >

    1. Bob, For somebody who doesn’t like labels, you’re pretty good at it. I would rather have clarity on essentials with love than muddle along in a gray world. In essentials, unity; non-essentials, liberty; in all things charity. That’s my hope, tim

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

    2. Bob, this line of yours: “Since half (at least) of the Christians in America, many of them so called Conservatives (what does that even mean), are divorced and remarried, they are all living in adultery and are incapable of repenting that away (how can they undo it).” Look again at Jesus’ words–He was challenging the Pharisaical Law that declared some divorces were not sin. Truth is, all divorce is sin, that’s the point of Jesus. I know, because I’ve been divorced. My brother in Christ, I am a testimony that divorced persons ARE indeed capable of confessing and repenting of that sin. Confession means to agree with God–and I do, divorce is a sin. Repentance means to turn away from that sin AND turn to God. And correct me if I’m wrong (and I’m confident you will) that ANY sin confessed and repented is forgiven by the blood of Jesus and that in turn, God separates that sin from us as far as the east is from the west, that God forgets that sin forever, and that in Christ we are new creations where the past is gone. If God has forgiven me (and He has) how can I be living in adultery with His gift to me of my wife?

  3. It is interesting you are dealing with one sin your group seems to only think about when I doubt there is not one pastor with secret sins no one knows about. Judging others is not for us to do or there would be many pastors that few would kneel in front of to take communion.
    I am praying for this judging to stop.

    Sent from my iPhone

    1. My “group,” your “group,” I guess we will know them by their fruit. Fruit inspectors start with themselves. Appreciate the reminder.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  4. Tim,
    So good to see you are feeling well enough to start writing again. I’ve missed reading them.

    Yahweh never promised us the road we walk as Christ followers was going to be an easy one. He did command us to carry His Word in love in spite of what struggles, hardships, rejection and judgement by others comes our way. Blessings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s