Stepping stones

A couple weeks ago I shared a peek at where we felt God was calling SUFTT to go in 2015 and beyond.  I wanted to expound a little more in closing this week.

Over the past four years we have tried our best to share news stories, trends and opinions on issues that we felt the church was either unaware of or possibly ignoring, in hopes they would just go away.  The growth of radical Islam and the propaganda from the media spinning Islam as a religion of peace; the growing radical segment of the homosexual movement that was seeking to undermine the truth of God;  A government education system that was indoctrinating children into humanism; and a growing number of Christian leaders that seemed to be purposefully doubting that the Word of God is eternal truth—a thought that somehow God could not have anticipated abortion, growing sexuality and other issues we face in the 21st century.  That somehow God just could not have anticipated where the world was headed—and thus we need to look to our own human understanding instead of the Word of God.

Now we will continue to share news and trends, and have excellent guests who share their opinions on events around the world that affect us as Christians.  But we are also going to go a little deeper on these issues.

There are only so many ways and times we can state the obvious:  “Islam is a religion of anti-christ; homosexuality is a sin; Christian illiteracy of the Bible is growing more and more.  These stories and trends are obvious.  We want to move beyond these facts and talk more about what the Word of God says about how we are to address them.  Allow me to give you a few examples:

Homosexuality seems to be on the rise.  It is becoming widely acceptable throughout society and a growing number of Christians are embracing it as acceptable.  This is a fact.  We want to get deeper into the subject and try to figure out why it is growing and how we as Christians should respond according to God’s Word.

If we can understand why this is happening, perhaps we can figure out a better way to reach people who are in the grasp of this sin—or any sin for that matter.

If a young person is a practicing homosexual—or having any sexual relations outside of marriage for that matter—if we can understand why they are doing it, perhaps we can learn better how to help them see the truth of God’s Word and the long term benefits of following God instead of their flesh.

But too often we state the obvious—you are sinning—without trying to understand why the person is behaving like they are.  If we can better understand the thought process of the person, perhaps we can better help them with the truth of the Word.

Let’s talk “Islam” for a moment.  It is clearly a religion of anti-christ according to the Bible—anyone who has read John’s epistles can understand this.  But if we can come to understand why it is appealing to a growing number of people, perhaps we can help them contrast the “appeal” of Islam with the truth of Christianity.

Islam offers no eternal hope for its followers—Allah is capricious and no matter what a Muslim does or does not do, Allah makes a subjective judgment as to the person’s eternal destination.

The Bible teaches us we can be assured of eternal life with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner.  So if we can get past our fear and quit stating the obvious—and actually learn how to provide the Muslim with eternal hope, maybe we can be God’s instrument for another sinner repenting and turning to Jesus Christ.

When I was a young Christian I was still struggling with pornography.  I had coffee with a pastor one day and confessed to him that I was still being dragged into this sin on occasion and didn’t know how to defeat the temptation.  His response?  “Well the Word of God says that it is a sin!”

Now I love this pastor—but I looked at him and said “You know I am not an idiot—I can read.  I know the Bible teaches it is a sin—I just don’t know how to walk away from the temptation.”

See, we can memorize the entire Bible and have great understanding of the Word—yet remain ineffective in sharing the gospel and truth with others.  But when we take the time to understand why people believe what they believe; or why they struggle with a particular sin—we can actually begin to help them walk away from sin by the power of the Holy Spirit.

If we think we can just memorize scripture and that alone will make us effective ambassadors for Jesus Christ—well we are wrong.  If we think just because we are able to identify sin in another that we are capable of being God’s instrument to help them, well we are being foolish.

So we want to slow down moving forward and look at issues in a deeper way.  We want to slow down and actually listen to the other side and see if we can understand why they believe what they believe so we can have a productive discussion on the truth of God.

If we can understand why a Christian believes homosexuality or adultery is OK; if we can understand why the Muslim is attracted to Islam; if we can understand why young people are turned off to the church—well maybe our understanding of their beliefs will actually help us to help them.

We must face facts and be humble:  We can be a very arrogant people at times, we Christians.  It is as if once we become saved we forget our struggle to obtain salvation to begin with.  Like suddenly we are the smartest and holiest people on the planet—instead of sinners saved solely by the grace of God.

We share the gospel from a position of arrogance too often.  We talk down to people struggling with sin as if we ourselves never did or never do to this day.

We chastise a Christian for reading soft books from people like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer or whomever—when perhaps we ourselves found comfort in those very teachings at one time.  We act as if we became instantly 100% sanctified at the moment we received salvation—instead of admitting our continuing journey to sanctification is still marred with failures and sins.

I have been deeply immersed in the Word of God lately as it pertains to two words—pride and humility.  And the Word of God is consistent in a couple areas about these words.

God hates the proud, and loves the humble.  God humbles the proud, but exalts the humble.  God will not use the proud—but loves to work through the humble.  The proud will not inherit the Kingdom of God—but the humble will live with God for eternity.

Solomon started off humble.  God said he would grant him anything he desired because of God’s love for Solomon’s father David.  Solomon asked for wisdom so he could lead his people in the ways of the Lord.  But Solomon eventually became proud, disobeying God and doing things his way.  And as a result the Kingdom of Israel was split in two and has not recovered to this very day.

Solomon repents and admits his pride and foolishness in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

It is the humble heart that God loves; but He hates the hearts of the proud and arrogant.

So, where does all this lead us to on SUFTT?  We will continue to report on news and trends.  We will continue to hold up everything taught against the Word of God.  But we are going to slow down, and with a heart of humility, try to understand why things are happening in the church and how we can use the wisdom of God to help people seek God and not our human understanding.

Perhaps it is time that each of us take the time to reflect on our own lives.  Perhaps we were once lost and prideful sinners.  And then someone reached out to us in love and truth and pointed out a better way—trusting in God to save us and give us eternal life.

Perhaps we once looked to what we now consider mushy teachings of people like Rick Warren, Joel Osteen or whomever.  But God’s spirit continued to work on us; and men and women of God continued to teach us to turn to the Word of God instead of elevating the teachings of another human.

There is a saying often used when a young man is elevated out of a life of poverty and suddenly becomes a rich and famous actor, professional athlete or other profession—do not forget where you came from—your humble beginnings if you will.  I think this is a message that is good for us to remember as Christians.  Because the place we were delivered from by God was a place of eternal damnation.  We were once as lost and ignorant as most of those we see struggling today.  This is a good thing for us to remember—to stay humble and remember our roots.

We will never give sin or false teaching a pass—we will always point people to the eternal truth of God’s Word as the standard for the Christian life.  But let’s also never forget our roots—the time of our lives when we were lovers of self instead of loving God.

I think the most appropriate teaching from God’s Word to summarize this message is this from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

“and such were some of you…”  If that verse does not teach us to walk in humility I am not sure what will.