Repost from Facebook Notes September 21, 2015
I must begin tonight with praise. This week has seen a few status updates from me asking for prayer to help me seek God‘s face and ask Him to strengthen my faith. Worry from a wrong focus brings cloudy vision and a diminished effectiveness in our witness in the world. In spite of my need to remember that my faith is not self-generated, God is faithful always. There has been a steady joy building since Friday, even in the face of resistance from worldly things. It burst forth in church this morning, and the joy of Holy Spirit is once again flowing clear and strong, washing away the cloudiness and clearing the connections to God. Praise His holy name! For I know I could not have accomplished that myself, I tried and failed, as I have so many times before.
So, it was with clear vision and a singing heart that I scrolled Facebook today and stumbled upon two things that collided in my head to bring about a thought demanding to be shared. The first were headlines and commentary on the dignitaries assembled to meet the Pope on his visit here. Being as most of my friends are conservative, some Catholic, some not, the majority of the comments have been negative toward the President for choosing people that would be a slap in the face to the man many view as the head of the church here on earth. Even those who view the Pope as a negative decry what they see as the disrespect inherent in the choices of pro-choice and pro-homosexual clergy and activists that fill the ranks of the guest list. And I shake my head. Unless Rush Limbaugh, who I happened to catch a minute or two of Friday, is right and the guests are at the Pope’s request, it is probably likely that it was intended as an insult, or at least a challenge. At the same time, why do we fret over such nonsense?
Regardless of your opinion on the Pope, and I will state firmly I have no opinion, and in truth will likely delete any comments regarding him personally, the reality is he is a man appointed to speak for one of the largest branches of God’s church here on earth. Whatever our personal theories and opinons of the man, he didn’t get where he is by shrinking from the study of God’s Word. If that’s the case, I imagine that God, and probably the Pope, view such meetings as an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to move and the Gospel to be preached, and heard. Who cares if the President intended it for evil? Any other dignitary I might be concerned about that, except perhaps for PM Netanyahu, who is also currently the appointed leader of God’s chosen people. How else do you think God’s Word is proclaimed to those lost in sin except that men of God are willing to meet them and challenge them in their sin? These men are followers of the One True God, and the one a follower of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. They are not God, but they assuredly follow His example when it comes to proclaiming the Word of God.
And, that brings me to the second piece I ran across. It was a comment I can’t even entirely remember, but it referred to “our beliefs” when talking about Christians. For some reason, though the rest of the post was somewhat uplifting and inspirational as I recall, those words jumped out at me as a clanging cymbal in the midst of our church today. We speak to the world of “our beliefs.” But, our beliefs are not the gift we are commanded to share with the world. The hope we have, that Paul tells us to always be ready to give an account for, is not a belief. Belief, at least in modern English, denotes an opinion. A subjective thing that changes from time to time and person to person. It is no more solid or stable than the crashing waves at high tide. Our beliefs cannot provide to us or anyone else any hope in a world filled with men threatening to drown babies to get their way or men and women cutting up infants in the womb and calling it God’s work. Our beliefs are built on nothing more than the shifting sand of our weak and incomplete understanding, and they are not fit to bear the burden of the evil in the world. Eventually, our beliefs will crumble in the face of those who disagree with us and ostracize us for them. It matters not a whit to the world what I or you believe.
What matters is the Truth. That truth began with “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the Earth…” It was reiterated later with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Truth spoke to man through the ages with “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That is the Gift we as Christians have been given to share with a world lost in darkness. It isn’t a belief or an opinion. It is the reality of God, given to us in the Word, poured out for us in the flesh, and poured into us in the Spirit. It is a truth as immutable as the laws of physics that He put in place when He spoke the worlds into being out of the void. It is the Truth that upholds all truths. And God gave it to us not to condemn the world but to save it from the sure destruction of sin.
We as Christians need to stop telling people of our opinions of God, or our beliefs about God, and we need to get back to the business of proclaiming the Good News that Christ bore into the world, onto the cross and up out of death. There is sin present in the world and in each of us. It has bound us to the dead ways of worldly chasing after wealth, pleasure, comfort, desire. It has made us slaves to sin and death. And it is killing each one of us slowly but surely. But, the One who created all things loves the world He made and desires to reconcile creation to Himself. He desired that enough to step out of Heaven and onto earth in the form and frailty of a man to show us who He was, how to enter into that rest of reconciliation with God, and to atone once and for all for the sins of any who will repent and put their faith in Him. Repent – to turn away from the slavery of sin, and turn our face toward God humbly seeking His forgiveness and His power to destroy the chains of our sin so that we may be set free to enter fully into the promise of God. THAT is the the Truth. It’s not our truth. It’s not our opinion. It’s not our belief. It is the Truth of the Living God.
He commanded us to love our neighbors and share with them this truth, though those who were dying still blind to their sin would reject it as foolishness. He commanded us to set aside being seen as foolish because it is the power of God to those who are being saved. As you stand looking at the world, sometimes wringing your hands at your inability to convince those around you of your beliefs, or the evil of other people and beliefs, stop. Start loving your neighbor as someone, somewhere along the way, loved you. Proclaim the Truth, in all its agonizing and triumphant glory, for it is the power of God and there are still those that need to be saved.
Pray always, and glorify the Lord.