No Room For Compromise

I had the opportunity to hang out yesterday with a couple of young adults whom I have great affection for and was able to hear from them what some of the general attitudes are regarding right and wrong and was is considered acceptable among their age-group. I wasn’t the least bit shocked, but still deeply troubled.

NoCompromiseI am convinced all over again of the need for disciples of Jesus to be rock solid on our commitment to Truth. I believe that if we compromise at all, we have compromised completely and the stakes are so high. I’m not talking about things that are left to the individual conscience (Romans 14, which, of course calls for limiting ourselves in certain circumstances even if our conscience doesn’t convict us!), but rather those things that are very clearly universally wrong for all people at all times.  Keep reading, I’m not calling for protests, militant take-overs, boycotts, or “take our Country back” rallies.

I’m neither a legalist nor a pharisee. I do not believe that being morally upright will get anyone to heaven. I believe that it is the work of the Spirit of God working in an individual to reveal the Son of God who provides salvation through grace alone apart from works of the Law. I believe that this justifying work brings a change in us that causes us to want to live a righteous life (not have to), because it is Christ’s righteous life in us.  Further, I do not believe that everything that has been called sin by the pharisees among us is necessarily sin. What I do believe, though, is that Scripture is very clear on what IS sin…on those things I am unwilling to compromise.

On that last point I should be clear: being unwilling to compromise on what is and is not sin is not to say that I am perfectly delivered from all that falls within that category. What I must never do is to change the category of that thing that I struggle with from sin to mere “preference” simply because I like it. I must still call it a sin.  Changing my mind on it doesn’t change God’s.  If I know that Scripture is clear and I take an “oh, well” attitude, I’M STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR IT because God is the judge, not me.  What is DEMANDED of me for forgiveness is to recognize it for what it is and repent of it (which involves turning away from it).

What I must also do is to unconditionally and authentically love those who are completely engulfed in sin without judgment or pride.  I must also never make the mistake of believing that loving them enough not to judge is the same thing as being unwilling to confront them regarding that sin.  Sin kills.  If sin kills and I am unwilling to address that with someone I love, the last thing I am really doing is loving them.  Confrontation peppered with grace is incredibly loving and strong…and difficult.  But important.

We are all victims of the same cancer called sin.  None of us can live perfect lives this side of heaven, but what we can do is live lives that are pleasing to God through acknowledging and repenting of those things that have offended His holiness and caused separation between us. Then forgiveness, healing and restoration comes.

With that at stake, there is no room for compromise.

Sermon Video: The Calamity of Sowing the Wind

I’m always a little taken aback when I stop long enough to think of how easy it is to engage in trivial pursuits in life.  Hosea calls it “sowing the wind.”

Do you ever find yourself engaged in trivial pursuits?  Trying to attain things that ultimately don’t matter and can’t bring lasting satisfaction  Does your life demonstrate meaning and purpose?  Do you have a dynamic relationship with God that leads to meaningful pursuits or are you doing little more than chasing your tail, so that if you get it, you only find the pain involved with being wrapped up in yourself and your own destructive idolatry?

This week, I talked about the Calamity of Sowing the Wind.  Here is the video from that message:

The Gathering Chattanooga 05-19-13 Sermon from The Gathering on Vimeo.

Giving Pause: Taking Action When Conviction comes

ImageSomething happened to me Sunday just before I got up to speak at The Gathering.  Clearly, the Spirit of God was working through the time of worship and I had the impression that we needed to pause…I knew I needed to pause.  Things weren’t right.  Earlier that morning, I had gotten upset with my 12 year-old son because he was acting like a 12 year-old.  The nerve of that kid!  I’m ashamed to say that I was, too.  Thankfully, I’m the only dad who does that kind of thing.  What would the world be like if every father responded to their kids in a less-than-mature way?

I was reminded of Matthew 5:23-24:

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

I fell under heavy conviction that morning in worship and had the feeling there were others who had, as well, for one thing or another.  I took a few minutes after a very moving time of worship to deal with these things in silence, during which I went to my son and begged his forgiveness.  It’s one thing to feel remorse, but that is worth little unless it drives us to acts of repentance and restoration.  It seems others in worship that morning experienced something like that, too, as at least a few people moved towards others within worship to address personal issues.

I don’t know about you, but I find it so easy to become wrapped up in pride to the point that relationships become strained or damaged as a result sometimes.  The beautiful thing is that, when we decide to repent, both to God for a childish attitude, and the other person we had the issue with, forgiveness generally flows easily.

My son was quick to forgive me as I repented and gave my assurance that I am going to work much harder in submitting to God’s leadership in making me a godly role model for him. I want the legacy I leave to be a positive one.

So, do you struggle in this area, too?  Do you find yourself acting the juvenile in relationships sometimes?  How quick are you to repent?  How quick are you to forgive when wronged?  What are some things you do to maintain an attitude of humble submission and repentance when you are wrong?

A Reasonable Response

In the opening of Isaiah, God says something that, to me, is astounding.  He calls the readers to do something that sounds, well, unreasonable.  He says, “Come now, let us reason together.”  Crazy, right?  No, think about it:  The sovereign Lord of all that is, who created by the power of His Word, who controls all that ever was, who speaks and no one can respond, who, with the power of a thought can build up or destroy, whose ways are higher and thoughts deeper than anything that could compare, calls us to reason with Him.

Be Reasonable

Here’s the backstory: The Father has just laid out a grievance against Judah, that they have come to Him with acts of worship, but filthy hands and hearts.  Rhetorically, He has asked them where they got such an idea.  Do you think I like this?  Has anyone told you to do this and act this way towards me?  Do you think I’m stupid?  Did I say that I like for you to make a mockery of worship? (Yeah, a little bit of paraphrasing there). He then tells them what He wants them to do (which we’ll get to in a minute) then calls for them to be reasonable in their response.  Look at how He lays this out (so easily a baby could just about reason through this):

1. Your sins are disgusting   —->  they’ll be cleansed like snow.

2. If you’re willing and obedient  —->  I’ll bless your socks off.

3. If you refuse and rebel  —->  you’ll lose your socks. (look how strongly the Lord states this:  “you shall be eaten by the sword.” Gives the idea of complete consumption/destruction, no?).

4. I said it. That’s it. No other options. (“…the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”)

Simple, right?  So, the reasonable response is……?  Of course, any reasonable person would do what God says.  OK, so…..do we?  Do you? 

What God Said

Isaiah 1: 6-7 tells us what we’re to do that, in doing so, will lead to the blessings of God:

1.  Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean. Remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil. 

2. Learn to do good. (personal experience – it is a process.)

3. Seek justice.

4. Correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

So this is what God said. Now, what did He mean?

In summary, He tells us to separate ourselves from sin (repent) and do works in keeping with repentance. These were the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:8

How does it work?  Simple.  In our context (A.D.), it is coming to terms with the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, who, having made peace with the Father on our behalf (that is, since He was pure and had no need to have His own sins purified, He could, in perfection, stand in and trade His purity for our impurity by dying the death we deserved, bearing the penalty of sin for us, absorbing the wrath of God towards sin so we don’t have to eternally and then rising from the dead so that Death is defeated forever), and repenting. That’s the “Gospel” or Good News in a nutshell.  In my opinion, when you think of what’s at stake and what is gained, “good news” is an understatement!

The repenting part is the application of Christ’s pardon on our lives. If I don’t repent, I don’t get the benefit.  It’s like getting a coupon for a free meal at a restaurant:  Somebody is paying for that meal, though I get it for free. However, I actually need to redeem the coupon in order to receive the meal.  Repentance (that involves not only being sorrowful over sin, but actually turning away from that sin and believing what Christ has done) is that act of faith where I believe “the meal” has been paid for and is mine for the enjoying.

Now the rest is the outflow of what has flowed in.  Christ has given me salvation, called me to Himself, broken me over my sin, applied the ointment of healing through forgiveness as I repent, and sealed my soul for eternity with Him. Now, if that is real, I see the world differently:

  • I see injustice and I want to fix it.
  • I see people hurting and I want to help them.
  • I see people broken and I want to heal them.
  • I see people lonely and I want to comfort them.
  • I see people treated badly and I want to defend them.

Though I may have been blinded to these things before, being absorbed by my selfishness, empty religion, or short-sightedness, now Christ has given my His own eyes. I begin to see the world as He sees it and want to doing something about it. This is a natural process brought about by the indwelling Spirit of God (note: many people do these things who are not followers of Christ…keep reading).  

So, a couple of questions:

1.  What is your attitude towards sin?

2.  What is your relation to Jesus?

3.  What is the condition of your soul?

4.  How do you see the world?

5.  What are you doing about it?

Doing “justice” for the sake of justice may be noble (and many people are doing just that), but if not prompted as a natural result of what Christ has done in your life, it is ultimately meaningless.  You can make a hungry person full for a while but they’ll hunger again.  Empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, however, will change the world (and you) both now and for eternity.

If you’d like to explore this Good News further, shoot me a message.

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