Monday, October 25, 2010

A call for moratorium on "brokenness"

I am no theological expert, and I'm not even that great at memorizing scripture. I'm a sinner like everybody else, but I've been saved by grace through faith in Jesus' precious atoning blood shed on the cross for my sins.

That said, as I desire to grow closer to God, I am constantly looking to be more and more biblical in my life- the things I think, say, and do. On more than one occasion that has led me to awareness of flaws in the modern Church and the way we do things in Christianity as a whole.

One of the things I've noticed is how we are moving toward more post-modern and emergent language in churches. It's like we've become too afraid of offending people to just call disobedience to God "sin". The popular word to use now is "brokenness" and I just don't think it accurately portrays how devastating our transgressions are to a perfect and Holy God.

Jesus is not merely a cosmic Mr. Fix-It character who comes and tweaks some loose screws to make us better. He is God come in flesh, condescended to manhood, crucified on a cross to blot out the stains we could never cleanse ourselves. We don't need "tweaking", we need salvation!

In language, words have meaning, and an accurate portrayal of those words makes all the difference in how we perceive what is being said. If you do a word search of the Bible, you'll find that the term "broken" is most used in reference to having a broken or contrite spirit, people being brokenhearted over sin, or in God breaking and punishing His enemies. We don't see sin portrayed as us being broken, but instead bluntly stated as a grave offense against God.

"But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. "
James 1:14-15

Why then, do we substitute "sin" with "brokenness"? People have understood sin in that three-letter word for thousands of years, but we somehow have decided that it just doesn't work for us anymore, that we know better than the inspired words from God? I wonder if it's more an issue of the church being too afraid to boldly proclaim God's law, and the Gospel. When we do so properly, we cannot avoid the issue of sin; it must be addressed directly, and explained so people understand what it means.

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it--he righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
Romans 3:20-26

I believe substituting "sin" with "brokenness" does not allow for people to understand the full gravity of their transgression against God. It is dishonest to only give people part of the picture, and cowardly to care more about appeasing others than the state of their souls for eternity. How can we properly repent without knowing the full weight of our sins, and how can we truly appreciate the extent of Jesus' sacrifice and the gift of forgiveness and grace if we don't understand what we have been saved from?

So I hereby call for a moratorium on the terms "broken" and "brokenness" in churches. I pray that pastors would be bold enough and love others enough to give them the full biblical picture, that they would desire their flocks have meat and not only milk. I pray that in our evangelism efforts we would be completely honest and not gloss over things that may be offensive and risk that the person may never understand and come to true repentance.

I would like to clarify that I am not saying you can never use another term besides "sin". The Bible uses other words as well. What I am saying is that we should rely on scripture first, and take to heart that, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17) It is beneficial to expound on "sin" and make known to people the law so they may see what sin truly is before they hear the good news of the Gospel. May we never be so arrogant as to think that we have found a new and more relevant way of doing things than God gave us in His Word.

"If you really long to save men’s souls, you must tell them a great deal of disagreeable
C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Relativism and Christianity Accountability

I have a love/hate relationship with social networking. I love that I can keep in touch with friends, see what's up in people's lives, get interesting news and fact, and in general feel connected to the world even when I'm at home with Weslee.

On the flip side is my utter sadness over what I sometimes see from my brothers and sisters in Christ. Somehow we have decided that even though we are representatives of the Most High, nobody is entitled to EVER question something that we say in (let's face it) a public forum. We misuse scripture and speak of the freedoms we have in Christ, and throw out all of those that caution us to not abuse that freedom and cause others to fall.

"But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God.And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. " -- 2 Corinthians 4:2-6

I obviously do not expect the same standards from those who do not profess to be Christians, but I will definitely hold those professing Christianity to the Bible's standards, and not the world's. The sad thing is that the world's standards have invaded the Church, and we can see that reflected in how Christians perceive the world. No longer are we ready to search scriptures to determine right and wrong. If it feels good, it's ok. No longer are we offended at things that are questionable, or that hint at sins the Bible clearly speaks out against. It's all relative... you have your right, and I have mine, and we'll all just coexist.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. " -- 1 John 2:15-17

We have been beaten down and gagged by the secular world we live in, and we have let ourselves become part of it, instead of standing out within it. We've even adopted popular secular arguments, accusing those who dare to cite scripture and point to the Bible as being "intolerant" and "judgmental", claiming that what we do is nobody's business but our own. We fail to see the contradiction in our own words, that we proclaim our beliefs while telling others to keep their own to themselves. And this comes from those who claim to be CHRISTIANS!

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned itand how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,hat the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. " -- 2 Timothy 3:14-17

I would have a lot more respect for these people if they would venture to the scriptures themselves, and use God's Word to defend their positions, instead of just spouting off without any biblical backing whatsoever. I often post things that I have taken a lot of time finding scriptural support for, and find that the response (from Christians) is a blatant ad-hominem attack against my person or the topic, with no support for their position. The Bible does not tell us that our beliefs are based off of "feelings", but on the TRUTH. All truth is in the Bible, and we should be ready to defend our faith against those who would attack it, even if it's another professing believer.

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." -- Colossians 3:1-3

If you follow Christ, and proclaim to be a Christian, your life is not your own. It belongs to God, and therefore you are His representative here on earth. EVERYTHING you say and do is a representation of Him, and you will be held accountable for it. Ignorance of scriptures will be no excuse when we stand in front of our Lord on judgment day.

"'You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.'" -- Matthew 5:13-16

We are to be salt and light in this world, we are to boldly proclaim the Gospel- Christ crucified for OUR sins, and we are to go against the tide of the secular world that people may know who and what we stand for. I'm sorry, but what we say and do IS the business of others, especially when in public, and to say that it's not is completely ignorant.

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid." -- Proverbs 12:1 "And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all." -- 1 Thessalonians 5:14

We are looking past scriptures that call us to accountability to our brothers and sisters in Christ, those that encourage us to be involved in each other's lives and to admonish others when we are concerned that they may stumble, and call them out on sins because we love them. We are to love discipline as Christ followers, but instead we reject it and stand on our "freedom", as if it will make us untouchable. I'm sorry, but separating ourselves from the discipline and admonishment of others in Christ is to shun the scriptures, to spit in the face of God. It's telling God, "hey, thanks for the salvation and all, but I don't really need you or those you put in my life to help me."

"The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death." -- Proverbs 14:27

Where is our fear of the Lord that drives us to passionately study His Word and desire to only do right? Where is the desire, the need to flee from sin and live more holy lives? It seems that we have forgotten the ultimate Truth in God's Word, and have instead turned to man for our standards. I pray that we return to our Savior, lest we be cast out.