Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rejoice!

“This is the day which the Lord has made.
I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

 
Now that the Supreme Court has created a constitutional right for same sex marriage, what should be our response? Shock? Fear? Anger? How about rejoicing? Yes, rejoicing! God is not surprised. He knew what the Supreme Court was going to do. And we did too, if we’ve been paying even a little attention over the past few years. So this too, is a day which the Lord has made.

But that's not the end of the story! We have promises to hold onto. We aren’t promised a Christian nation to feel comfortable in, we are promised we will finish as overcomers. God is with us—an indwelling, strengthening, joyous, soul-keeping presence guiding us through this time. We are being presented an opportunity to choose which we value more, belonging to God or being left alone in our little subculture. If our faith only ‘works’ when it is unopposed by those around us— including our government—then we are deceived if we think we have overcoming faith. It’s easy to stand in church, singing that we belong to Him, that He has all of us, that He is enough. This is an opportunity to put actions to our words. To walk out our faith in a world more opposed to God than before.

We could pull back behind the barricades and lob grenades at the other side, but what would we gain? Do we demonstrate the love of God that way? Do we exist to demand our rights and maintain our first world entitlements, or to glorify God and tell everyone about the mercy and love of our Messiah? Rather than fight, we need to pray for the gay community, because once the euphoria dissipates, there is bound to be some disappointment. They will discover that this victory will not make them happy. Because identity is so much more than sexual orientation. Pray that disillusionment drives them to search for deeper truth. Because God tenderly loves and is calling all men and women. He stands ready to fill the empty spot that gender identity cannot fill, because it is too small. He is the love, acceptance and satisfaction the gay community is seeking. They just need eyes to see it. And church communities ready to help them when they do.

Times like this shake and sift us. Steadfastly choosing God now, when it is easy, helps us down the road when it may become more difficult. Some Christian leaders and pastors have already decided they know better than the Bible; they've somehow concluded they are kinder or more relevant than God. I am very sorry for them. They may win allies now, but will find in the end that there is no Christ in their Christianity. So this new reality is already winnowing us. We must decide—do we compromise our faith in order to gain converts? Or do we cling to Jesus and take the consequences when the world hates us? This is how we overcome, by refusing to let go of Jesus no matter what tempts us to do so.

So what do we do? Be more politically active if you're so inclined, though it seems rather less important to vote, now that unelected, unaccountable officials can invalidate the will of the people, if they don't like it (but I digress). But more importantly...live out your faith with joy! Be so filled with God that there is something appealingly different about you. Continue to offer the saving gospel of love to everyone. Love God first and foremost and love your neighbor as yourself—everything else will fall into place. Remember that we’ve been promised that the gates of Hell shall not prevail. That means the Kingdom overcomes the darkness! When asked for the reason for the hope within you, refuse to remain silent, while practicing the discipline of framing your speech with humility and love. Receive rejection and even abuse with patience, remembering that Jesus was silent before His accusers. I know I can't do it...not even a little. So I need much more of God; more of His power and presence and love in my life.

We’ve got to stop thinking that if we stay out of the argument, keep our heads down and be nice, that unbelievers will let us be. We're really past that point. Be reconciled to the fact that the world is opposed to the ways of God; it is not going to like us. And that’s okay, we’re not members of that club. We are citizens of the Heavenly city, whose founder loves us with a fiery resolve. We will stay steady if we keep our focus on the end point, where Jesus stands waiting to welcome us home.

Rejoice, because God is worthy. He is worthy whether my rights are protected by the government, or not. He is worthy whether my beliefs are applauded, or not. He is wonderful, glorious, beautiful, and amazing. He remains worthy of my love, my devotion, my worship, my loyalty and my obedience. He is worthy whether I am permitted free expression of my faith, or have to join the underground church—as so many of our brothers and sisters around the world have done.


God is asking us to rejoice in Him and continue to choose Him in the midst of this shaking. This is His work of sifting and purifying the church…making us a Bride worthy of her Groom. If we cling to Him, He will keep us steady, and that is definitely something we can rejoice about!
 

 
 
 
"the Lord gave these things to me, and He has taken them away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21b


 

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