I think there’s a bit of a climate change in Christianity. It’s bringing about some great debate and great growth. Also, there are some issues arising we need to keep in our sights.
There’s a sense of out with the old and in with the new amongst believers. For this season, it seems what has always been done is no longer good enough just because it has always been done.
People are getting less and less satisfied with sitting on the sidelines. Great! Being a church is more than sitting on a chair listening to a sermon and worshiping is more than 15 minutes of singing. People are putting their faith and their worship into action! It might have started with just liking or sharing things on Facebook, but you’re being stirred to more.
With the norm shifting, it’s time to re-evaluate. There are some things from church culture that can go away and never be missed. Good riddins choir robes and holier than thou chairs!
Some things, however, are ancient (forever actually) so we ought not be quick to run away from them. What I’m referencing is a growing tolerance of issues among believers. Certain issues are becoming such the cultural norm that if we aren’t careful, they easily become our new “Christian” norm.
More and more believers are announcing to the world secrets they’ve kept and no longer want to keep. A+ for getting it out!! Transparency is a huge percentage of the battle won. Unfortunately, a lot of that announcing comes in the form of after hiding for years and praying and praying for struggles to go away- they don’t… so finally opening to the world that this is just the way it is, and God still loves me.
Indeed He does still love you.
The thought goes something like this, “I tried really hard and nothing changed, THEREFORE, God MUST be ok with this issue.”
Right? It makes sense.
I beg you. I BEG you. If you are one with an issue you have suffered with a long time and are about ready to press the accept button…will you consider maybe the “silence” (you know the silence where you’ve prayed who knows how many times for it to go away and it didn’t) from God is not acceptance of your sin but rather is longsuffering and patience?
Longsuffering: enduring injury, trouble, or provocation long and patiently (according to dictionary.com).
God is patient with you, and He loves you desperately.
In our struggle with sin, it’s possible that we have not faced consequences to that sin yet because He’s patient and giving allowance for us to come to our senses (read story of the Prodigal son).
We all want comfort from our sin, to know it’s ok. Deep down inside we want to know that we’re ok and want to be accepted as we are. God is quick to comfort and let us know we’re going to be ok. He’s so gentle! He will take years to walk through something with us, hand in hand. He’s a loving God! He is also the same forever. If He used to not be ok with a sin, He is most assuredly still not ok with it. It’s just a bit unsettling that a path to righteousness isn’t being taught so people are trying to figure it out alone and getting stuck without true freedom.
It makes me think of my last post with Josias. Josias was always hitting the other kids and whining like I had never seen before. I had to be VERY firm with him and make sure he knew his actions were not acceptable. His response was to crawl up in my lap and just sit there for a while. When I allowed him to sit and rest in my lap, I wasn’t giving approval of his crazy actions. I was giving approval of him. Do you know since I wrote that post, I haven’t seen Josias throw one temper tantrum.
The association has become too close for comfort that we are what we struggle with. I tell you it’s not true. God is firm through His Holy Spirit to correct, but gentle enough to hold us closely as we learn and our habits change.
There are really two issues I have in mind: the subject of homosexuality and the topic of sex outside of marriage.
Both are common struggles amongst believers. That’s ok, we knew we were going to have to fight through things. However, both are becoming so common that they are beginning to seem normal and maybe not so bad.
You might say, “But I have confessed and nothing changed! I tried really hard and just couldn’t do it.”
Where in the Bible does it say that you were going to stop struggling in an instant? Sometimes the feeling of freedom happens instantaneously, but you spent lots of time working on that struggle, it may equally take time to walk out of it.
Maybe you aren’t struggling with this stuff. Don’t stop reading because for certain you see it around you. And you’ve got to decide what your response will be.
You’ve got to know your response because, dear friend, your proclamation in defiance an issue doesn’t make it better. I used to say when I was leading interns, you can’t cry out unity and make it happen, you’ve got to do unity. In the same way, we can’t cry out, “That’s wrong” and rack up some holy points.
Instead, you’ve got to love people well enough and closely enough to have your arm wrapped tightly around them through thick and thin. At the same time, you’ve got to remember the truth and talk about it with them. With close friends, hard conversations can bring freedom. Love on your friends as they mess up but help to make sure their speech and actions and heart are moving forward to conquer. (Note: your work won’t get you out of any sin struggle. It can cover it up, put it off, lessen the effect but only one thing can wipe away. I could write a whole post that thought alone…different time).
It doesn’t seem the Word has a whole lot to say about the inclinations of a person toward the same sex. However, it does have things to say about homosexual acts and lifestyle. It is very clear that they are very wrong, a sin. Whether you were born with it or not is not an issue because we were ALL born with inclinations towards sin. We were born in sin. If you act on your temptation, you sin. It doesn’t matter whether it is homosexual sin, heterosexual sin, lying, greed, etc. You weren’t born worse, but you weren’t born better.
Sex before marriage is a much more quiet issue than the homosexual issue. People don’t generally have a coming out to the world and saying they’ve had sex outside of marriage. That’s usually kept to just a few confidants or no one at all. If you’re older and don’t work with the younger generation, you might not have an idea just how many Christian young people are dealing with this. It’s so common now that many young people are wondering if it’s even wrong. So many have tried so hard to stop, but the lessening of guilt makes it less difficult to continue.
With a shifting in culture and in the faithplace, we’re trying to figure out how to relate and genuinely looking for a solution to these topics.
Here’s how: We know God’s loving. We know He’s kind. More than other generations we know these struggles are real and hard. . We’ve seen our friends who we know want to serve God struggle, and we love them.
So what do we do? This is where I say, “Be careful, young man.” (Or young woman, old people, babies, whoever).
Be careful to not approve of sin. Be careful to approve of people, they are in fact in the center of the very heart of God.
I want to encourage you to be yourself and be submitted to the Lordship of Jesus.
I think that the Holy Spirit will let us know when we’ve strayed- if we’ll listen; and as He is patient, we’ll be able to work this out. We’ll be able to navigate these new waters, without avoiding issues or casting people aside.
We’re called to purity and holiness. We are absolutely called to love. We don’t have a right to judge those who don’t know Christ. We have a responsibility to love and walk in such a way those who don’t know Him can see Him.
Stay alert. Love well. Don’t get comfortable in sin.
If you’re struggling, do let it out. It will be a big weight off your chest. Don’t let it out in such a way that you are settling in to make a permanent home for that struggle.
I haven’t attempted in this post to actually provide answers. I hope it makes a few people take a second look at what’s happening all around and causes those few to go the Word and see what an Almighty God has to say about these struggles, about this season and these times.
Love you all.
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