God and Country: An Inadequate Vision

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$(KGrHqVHJBsE-M9cSWtmBPpo,ty8Dw--60_35I’ve heard a lot of bad “God and Country” sermons. Quite frankly, I’ve preached some myself. You’ve probably heard them as well. They usually equate America with Israel in the Old Testament and claim the conditional blessings and cursings outlined by God in Deuteronomy and other passages as applying to America. II Chronicles 7:14 is often quoted. While I affirm that obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings judgment, we live in an upside-down world and sometimes God’s blessing doesn’t look like the blessings of Deuteronomy. We are following a crucified Savior, after all. The recent ruling by our Supreme Court which legalized same-sex marriage in the United States ought to help us understand that God and country are no longer one and the same.

THE TRADITIONAL CONCEPT OF “GOD AND COUNTRY” IS DEAD

We also need to understand that our American concepts of “God and Country” are incompatible with both the gospel and the current culture in America. American is becoming more like the Roman culture into which the church was born 2000 years ago. As Russell Moore of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has said, “On the wrong side of history? We started on the wrong side of history—a Roman Empire and a cross. Rome’s dead and Jesus is fine.” The church survived and thrived in 1st century Rome. The church will not be overcome now. The Church has divine promises of victory over the forces of evil (Matt. 16:18). America has no such promise. Even in this dark hour, God is sovereign and I believe that God is using this present evil to call Christians away from our American dream fantasy and calling us to great gospel faithfulness and Great Commission vision. God is darkening the canvas against which we are to shine. We’re marching away from Mt. Rushmore and marching toward Mt. Zion.

HISTORY HAS A PREDETERMINED GOAL – HIS NAME IS JESUS

In Revelation 19:6-16 two important events are depicted at the end of this age: the marriage of the lamb and the second coming of Jesus. History is moving toward this glorious goal when the last marriage will be between Jesus and his spotless bride, the Church. This passage also depicts Jesus as a conqueror. He rides upon a white horse, he judges and makes war, his appearance is fearsome, and he strikes down the nations with a sharp sword a rules them with a rod of iron. He is called King of kings and Lord of lords. When Jesus stood before the high priest to be condemned he told him, “But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64, ESV). Jesus was facing crucifixion, yet told those who condemned him that he would be revealed at his second coming with power. When Jesus comes again he will shatter the nations like clay pots (Psalm 2:7-9), all rule and authority will be put down (1 Cor. 15:24-25), and the kingdoms of this world will belong to him (Rev. 11:15). These are the same kingdoms that Satan offered Jesus during the temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8-10). As American Christians, we need to remember that America is a kingdom of this world, currently under the dominion of Satan, destined to be judged and conquered by Christ. The Gospel is not a message of national recovery, but a declaration of divine takeover and a call to unconditional surrender. God is not interested in fixing nations. God is interested in establishing his kingdom and putting down all earthly rule and authority.

THE “RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY” IS THE OTHER SIDE OF A CROSS

For Christians, this world is not our home and neither is this country. We are citizens of the kingdom of heaven living in a foreign land. We should not sound like complaining citizens of an earthly kingdom, but as prophetic ambassadors of a heavenly kingdom. While it is true that Jesus is coming again to conquer the nations of this world, it is important to notice that his robe is stained with blood. In Revelation chapter five, Jesus is presented as both a conquering lion and a lamb that has been slaughtered. The path to glory leads to a cross. We cannot forget that we are following a crucified savior. Let us not be surprised if we walk the same road of suffering he walked. Jesus left nothing unclear when he said, ““If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

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Proceed With Conviction: Same-Sex Marriage in the USA

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b599a34c0d512e42e3f5277e172bbebcd745dd98This weekend, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. For many of us however, our celebration is darkened by the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage for every American this past Friday. News like this tends to affect us in two ways: first we have an emotional response of anger, sadness, or shock. Secondly we have a sense of duty to do something; a feeling that we need to respond somehow. I think it is helpful for Christians first to zoom out and get an appropriate, wide-scope, biblical vision to give us perspective. Then in light of that we need to define specifically what our reaction should be and how we will proceed going forward.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS A VIOLATION OF GOD’S DESIGN

We need to first acknowledge that legalization of same-sex marriage is a multi-layered, sinful decision. It is sinful because it accepts as good something God has declared to be sin. The Scripture is clear that homosexuality is sinful behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition to plain statements of prohibition, there are many other negative examples, such as the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 13:13; 19:1-38).

Not only does the legalization of same-sex marriage normalize sin, it elevates it to the sacred dimension of matrimony, thus polluting and diminishing the social concept of marriage. Marriage is a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman that is patterned after the relationship of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-33).

Same-sex marriage also destroys the biblical structure of family. Children should be raised by a masculine father and a feminine mother who model proper gender roles and adult behavior. Even the fertilization of an egg requires sexual complementarity. As Christians, we must acknowledge the sinful nature of same-sex marriage.

HOW SHOULD WE PROCEED?

Affirm God’s sovereignty in heaven and earth. This decision did not catch God off guard. He may very well be using this situation to purify His church and to rekindle our devotion to Him.

Pray for our nation’s leaders, the church, and the lost. We should pray for those who lead our nation as they make decisions that set the course for the nation. We should pray that God would grant wisdom to the church in these difficult days as well as courage to continue the work of the Great Commission. Of course, we pray for those who do not know Christ that they will be turned from darkness to light.

Speak with prophetic voice concerning national sin. While we learn how to best engage the culture over these tough issues, let us always speak the truth of God concerning sin. The call of salvation is a call to repentance. We must speak truth in the midst of a sea of lies.

Model the gospel in our marriages and families. Too long we have preached against homosexuality without removing the log from our own eyes. Let us sanctify our homes and marriages to reflect the glory of God. We are living in a day when simply living in biblical, covenant marriage will be a radical testimony to the gospel. Let’s faithfully represent Christ and the Church.

Recommit ourselves to the Great Commission. The church’s mission is not political activism, but global evangelism. The gospel doesn’t work from top down, it works from bottom up. We are to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is how we bring about the reign of God on this side of the second coming.

Prepare to minister to refugees of the sexual revolution. There are going to be people hurt from the fallout of same-sex marriages and the church needs to be wise enough to prepare to receive them. There will be people connected to families in our churches who will obtain same-sex marriages. We need to be ready to confront with the gospel and minister faithfully.

Live in anticipation for God’s coming kingdom. We should not panic. Jesus is coming and this moment in time is just another tick on the clock that brings us closer to his appearing. Live as though God is completely in control and is bringing history to its appropriate end – because this is exactly what He is doing.

HELPFUL LINKS

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/26/why-the-church-should-neither-cave-nor-panic-about-the-decision-on-gay-marriage/

http://erlc.com/erlc/scotus

http://www.kybaptist.org/protecting-biblical-marriage/

http://cbmw.org/public-square/parenting-in-a-gay-marriage-world-what-should-christians-parents-do/