Dr. Mike Murphy
I am a people watcher! Let me sit down in a restaurant or a public setting, and I will quickly begin to notice the actions of those around me. With the cancer, I do not get as many opportunities to find myself watching people in public these days. But the other day, I got one of these opportunities as I had a bite of lunch at one of my favorite fast food places(one where cows tell us to eat mor chikin!) As I was enjoying my sandwich with a relative of mine, I heard two women at the table behind me starting to speak. Knowing it would be way too obvious to turn my head and stare at them, I began to listen to their conversation as they were speaking loudly(yes, I know, I was being nosy!). One of the women began to tell the other about the discussion her class had in Sunday School. She told her how the subject of homosexuality had come up. She then proceeded to tell the other woman how her class had come to the agreement that God had told us that homosexuality was a sin and immoral, but to teach that to their children would just be wrong. Why you might ask? Because her Sunday School class had come to the conclusion that society would see that as hateful.
After checking my ears for wax, making sure I was hearing them clearly, I listened to the two women continue. The two women came to the conclusion that there was parts of the Bible that we were best to just ignore, to just never discuss or teach. That to teach from certain verses of the Bible would just be seen as hateful by this world, and would put their children at a disadvantage in this world if they believed what these verses said. That this Church just could not expect to survive in this world if it spoke words the world did not like. That we are better off to have this world love us than we are to speak the truth of God’s Word. Hearing all this, I had lost my appetite, and felt more like I needed a shower than I now needed lunch.
We live in a day where this “so-called” Church is far more fearful of this world than it is of God. More willing and bound to please this world than they are to be obedient to our Lord. This Church can best be described by the word “antinomianism”. A long, fancy term that is best described as, “the belief that there is no moral laws God expects Christians to obey”. Taking biblical teachings that God has given us and turning them into the unbiblical conclusion that Christians have no moral law they are expected to follow. I know of no other word that could better describe this Church today.
When Paul dealt with the issue of antinomianism in his day, he gave us wise words that this Church needs to also take to heart. Romans 6:1-2 tells us, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”. Paul realized that this line of thinking was not the result of a true conversion in Christ, because to truly know and accept Christ creates in us a greater desire to obey and follow the Word of God. But these words by Paul do leave us today having to ask the questions, do many who claim their place in this Church really know Christ at all?
If we truly know Christ, we realize that there is a moral law God expects us to obey, a moral law from God that we desire to obey. 1 John 5:3 tells us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” If we obey His laws because our love for Him places a desire in us to do so, then we will love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. And if we faithfully follow His laws, then we will love our neighbor as we do ourselves(Mark 12:30-31). We so easily forget, God’s law is not one of codes, it is a law of love. A love that has us reaching out to our neighbor with all the compassion Christ has shown to each of us, but requiring us to also reach with all the truth that each of God’s laws have taught us. To not reach with both, is to not show true love.
And this is where this Church finds itself today, trying to reach with what we think is compassion, while avoiding the truth we know this world does not want to hear, and will not like. And in our blind ambition to look like we are reaching, we do not realize that without the truth, Satan is actually tying both our hands behind our back.
We so often forget, this world is what we leave when we come to Christ. Christ did not bring us out of this world to drop us back in so we could wallow in this world’s mud. He calls each of us to reach out to those around us with both compassion and truth, so we can pull them out of the mud, and help them to leave this world with us.
This is a world that has a lovefest with sin. We watch as Hollywood encourages sin, and foolishly tells us to envy every sinner. We watch as advertisers prey on the sin of this world, with lust in their eyes. We watch as politicians make laws that embrace sin, looking to justify sin through the ranks of our society. And sadly, we watch as many pastors and Church leaders excuse sin, finding it easier to overlook than to tell the truth about. And with each watch of our eyes, we can see the smile forming on Satan’s face.
When we become a part of the family of God through our faith in Christ, God creates for us an off ramp, so we can exit from the madness and foolishness of this world(2 Corinthians 5:17). With our exit, we become citizens of another kingdom, God’s kingdom. And we quickly realize just how righteous, truthful, perfect, and moral the laws of His kingdom are compared to the laws of this world we exited from. We soon realize, we do not want dual citizenship, trying to live in both His kingdom and this world. And with each minute we spend in His kingdom, we realize that we cannot and do not desire to serve two masters(Matthew 6:24), knowing we cannot be devoted to both Him and this world. And knowing, we cannot live by the moral laws of both.
If we continue to try to love this world the way the unbeliever does, we will find ourselves without one ounce of spiritual growth, and will become nothing more than a fruitless tree in His kingdom. We can never find ourselves loving anything more than God, because in doing so, we make ourselves unworthy of Him(Matthew 10:37-38). And sadly, this is exactly where much of this Church finds itself today. Many claiming to be a part of this Church who love this world more than they love our Lord.
We, the Church, must again realize, we are nothing more than simply in this world, only here physically. We are not of this world, not a part of what this world values(John 17:14-15). As followers of Christ, we are set apart from this world, not engaging, accepting, excusing, or endorsing the sinfulness this world cherishes and promotes. To do so leaves us with the corrupt, foolish mindset that this world creates. We are of Christ, and belong to Him. Our mind, our body, our words, and our actions are to be like Christ, not to be reflective of this world. Favorite statements of this world, like “to thine own self be true”, and “I will let my conscience be my guide”, are words that Christ would have us forget. Words that we must help others see the foolishness of, showing them that it is by these words that the world has gotten itself in the mess it is in.
This Church must remember again, we are to be the light to this world’s spiritual darkness. And right now, this Church is trying to light a match in the middle of a wind storm, not making of ourselves the raging fire that all the world can see. It is time this Church again feared the Lord, not because we are scared of Him, but because we know what this world is like without Him. And that is a fear we must make contagious, spreading throughout this world like an epidemic every chance we get. Always realizing, our faith encompasses every aspect of our lives. It is the opportunity that consumes every hour of our days, and the dreams that fill each hour of our nights. Our faith must be the conforming influence of this world, not shaped by fears of this world. Our faith must be more than just something casual that we think this world would not be offended to hear or see.
Praying you never take a casual walk for Christ, but are always found running into His arms!