Friday, October 03, 2014

Fundamentalist homophobia?

What is love? Acceptance? More? I think the author of this article - - should answer that question. His answer might explain - or change - his understanding of some activity going on in an area of our town.

My brief response to the letter:

I can appreciate the guy's point about the possibility of fundamentalist views contributing to the very problems they are trying to heal - but of course, I disagree since any contribution to the problems would come from a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the fundamentalist views.

He points out that Sojourn preaches a message that homosexuality is a sin, and then he calls it an attempt to demonize our nature. He doesn't want anyone to say that what he's doing - or who he is - is wrong - or sinful. Who are we to judge?

He simply doesn't understand the concepts of sin or of "loving the sinner but hating the sin." And that's because he has a faulty concept of love. Of course, Biblical love, God's love, is all there really is. Anything less is a shadow at best, corruption at worst. Love is transforming. It changes you to give it; and it changes you to receive it. God is love, and He cares for His people so much that He stops them from engaging in sin and changes their hearts to desire His ways, all of which saves them from His own righteous wrath towards their sinfulness, both their behavior and their very nature.

If we have the cure for cancer and don't share it, what kind of people are we? Are we loving? Or hateful?

The author of the letter lost me at the end when he said that he doesn't mind Christianity, but only the details of it. I think that shows his ignorance to the message and method that Sojourn and Access Ventures are putting forth in that community. Sojourn loves Shelby Park and so seeks to transform it and save it from self-destruction, which is clearly the path it has been on in the past few decades. The very same logic applied corporately to Sojourn and Shelby Park fits individually to the love and care that the individual members of Sojourn and employees / volunteers of Access Ventures have for the individual residents of Shelby Park.... Just as CS Lewis has said (paraphrasing), "We are like a house and God's love changes us. We knew we needed a little updating, light remodeling. But God tears down walls and adds a new wing and raises the roof. He takes us from a dilapidated shack to a luxurious mansion. It's painful and we often don't understand why at first. But when we realize that He intends to live with and in us, it makes sense."

Sojourn members are moving into Shelby Park. Shall they not attempt to change it for good? For safety? For beauty? For glory?

The author's one jab at Fundamentalists' Biblically inconsistent application came regarding the text that says a rapist must marry his victim. He doesn't understand - and couldn't apart from the Holy Spirit's conviction - the context and culture and reason for such a requirement. Nor does he understand how Christ both fulfilled and abolished the law for Christians. The only law we have is love. And what Sojourn and Access Ventures are doing in Shelby Park is certainly a proper expression of that. Until he sees his need for transformation, for salvation, for that kind of love, he can't appreciate it.

And all Christians should be changing their worlds - their families, neighborhoods, schools, jobs, athletic teams, etc. - with this same love.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Not by obeying the law, but by walking in the Spirit

I was reading Galatians 3 with my family last night, and gained some new understanding on a crucial question for the Christian life. The Galatians had been justified by believing the Gospel, by grace through faith according to the power of Holy Spirit regeneration, not by feeble - or even mighty - attempts to obey the law. Why then, Paul asks, were they trying to proceed through obedience to the law instead of by that same Holy Spirit power?

I've long pondered the step-by-step method of living in the Spirit, or keeping in step with the Spirit. How do I live in the present by the Spirit, not trusting my own efforts to follow Christ? I think it has to do with "being" rather than "doing." It's not so much that I need to obey the law - for Christ did that for me; rather, I need to pursue the fruit of the Spirit. I need to be loving, joyful, patient, kind, gentle, self-controlled, etc... In "being," I will find the "doing" follows naturally - or perhaps supernaturally - as the Holy Spirit conforms not merely my behavior but my very character to that of Jesus.

There was some good family discussion around this topic, and we concluded, hopefully rightly, that justification comes by grace through faith by the logically primary regenerating action of the Hoy Spirit, and sanctification follows in the same manner. Our failures and setbacks in the sanctification process come when we concern ourselves more with "doing," instead of focusing on "being." We will always and inevitably fail at the "doing," because that comes through our own efforts, even when we think we are cooperating with the Spirit. But a greater level of success - though not perfection in this life - will come as we keep in step with the Spirit, by "being."

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control.

So it's not, "I need to obey better today." Instead, it's, "I need to be more like this today." Lord willing, I will be.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Worldview Premises: Culture vs Christianity

According to Paul David Tripp, current culture rests upon seven premises: (1) human beings are autonomous (not under authority); (2) pleasure is an ultimate end; (3) effort must be undertaken to meet "my needs”; (4) love of self is the greatest need; (5) “bigger pleasure is better”; (6) “a constant pursuit of instant gratification” is essential to my pleasure; and (7) physical is more important than spiritual.

All of these premises are contrary to the Biblical worldview, in which: (1) humans are not autonomous, but rather theonomous (our authority, whether we submit to Him or not, is God); (2) pleasure is good, but never as an end in itself - personal holiness and the glory of God are the ultimate ends; but they go together for the Christian, and there is pleasure in seeking them (for the joy of the Lord is our strength); (3) our focus should not be on meeting "my needs," because we know that God provides for our needs; instead our focus should be on the things of God and His revealed will; (4) love of God is the greatest need, and the love of others flows from that; there's nothing wrong with love of self, but we must allow that to overflow to others (love your neighbor as yourself); (5) bigger pleasure is still only temporal at best and sinfully achieved at worst; therefore, holiness and obedience are better than temporal pleasures, because they form a personal character that is prepared to embrace eternal pleasure that starts here and continues forever in the next life; (6) instant gratification may enhance temporal pleasure, but patience is an underestimated virtue (the best things come to those who wait); I can be joyful regardless of circumstances, because God is good; (7) the natural man cannot understand spiritual things, so "physical" certainly seems more important than "spiritual," but once we have the Holy Spirit, we learn to realize the infinite value of perfect and permanent "spiritual" realities, compared with the imperfect, temporal, and constantly fading "physical" experiences.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Moving - the right move!

There's an important spiritual lesson in moving, and it's a lesson that needs repeating regularly, say every 4-7 years. We are sojourners in this life; it's not good to get too comfortable. Suffering loss is not bad; it sanctifies and helps us long for the glorious appearing of the one surety we have in Jesus. I'd say we were meant to move. There may be a time for everything, including waiting and resting, but settling in a world that's not our home isn't good.