I’ve been reading old books again… and it’s struck me that this thing that we think of as new, where Christianity is valued primarily as a civilizing force, is far from new. Because a relationship with Christ will make you a better person, and a nation full of better people will become a better place to live, we reverse things and start trying to force everyone to *act* like Christians (which is dangerous ground in the first place) so that we can have a nicer place to live out our mortal lives. Because we notice that Christians are more likely to win at life, we value Christianity for its social utility – it makes things work better.
If your Christianity is valuable because of its social utility, then it doesn’t matter whether or not Christ rose again. It doesn’t matter if Creation is literal or figurative. The rules (OT or NT) are irrelevant – because Christianity is just a more sophisticated version of the “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten” poster. Faith exists *only* to be an opiate for the masses, it exists to keep people well-behaved and orderly. Church is a social organization.
This attitude, that Christianity is valuable because it makes people nice, leads directly to post-modernist thought, where nothing is objectively true. It leads directly to the blasphemy present in the mainline churches, where pastors are allowed to speak against the Resurrection from the pulpit. It leads to where we are now, where half the confessing church is willing to deny key doctrines of the faith. This isn’t *new*. This isn’t from today. In 80 year old footnotes, I was reading the same thing! We compromise with the world, in an attempt to make the world compromise with us. It never works, it never has, it never will.
The temptation to try to conquer this earth and make it into a paradise with our own hands is as old as Christianity itself. This is one of the temptations our Lord was presented with, to exchange the worship of the prince of this world for ownership.
Matthew 4: 5 And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.”
And that’s a temptation that well-meaning Christians have fallen to ever since. I think you can lay most of the worst of what has been done in the name of Christ to that sin… when we try to force this world, this world that is intended to die and be remade, to become like Heaven. What do we do? We compromise. We say, “well, this person isn’t so bad, we’ll ignore the evil things because he’s offering us part of what we want”. We say, “well, we know we shouldn’t hurt other folks, but if we can force them to convert by torturing them… that’s all good, ’cause they converted”. “We know that those guys on the front line taking over the country are raping and pillaging … but they let us preach to whomever is left over, so okay”.
We didn’t wait for God. We didn’t say, “well, we’re just going to do things God’s way – even if that seems confusing, or illogical, or if it takes longer”. We grabbed for it. We wanted to make things happen!
We are reaping the fruit of that now. Because the last variant of “let’s use God” was a movement away from the Truth and towards niceness, now goodness has been redefined so that our stubborn alignment with the Truth is seen as evil. We, Christians in the West, we took the easy way. We compromised, and this is the fruit that was borne.
Our relationship with Christ is meant to be our lighthouse, our guiding force, our center. Our first allegiance is to God, not to man. If you are a Christian, it is not possible to say that an oath to the state trumps your faith in Christ*. We are Christians. People of our faith died because they wouldn’t compromise and burn one measly stick of incense to Caesar. Our core should be devotion and love for Jesus. What, after all, is the first commandment? Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and spirit. He saved us from our sins! He gave us new life! He gave us new hearts! He made us new! He has done everything for us – including giving us a beautiful future that doesn’t involve this fallen world.
Compromise is evil.
We will be pressured to compromise. We always have been. Those who are already compromised will be the first ones to pressure us to do so, and the ones – because of their own guilt – who will demonize us the most for failing to do so.
Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
It is almost time for the harvest, and the wheat and the chaff are being separated. The Church is going to be purified – those who are willing to stand on the Truth and stand up and be counted, those folks are going to start getting some flak. We have had centuries in which we’ve allowed ourselves to think that this world is something we can fix, that this world is where we should keep our treasure, that this world is where we “win”. It.Is.Not.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
With whom will you align, Christian sibling? With the world, or with God? We cannot choose to lie to ourselves and say that following our Master will make our stay in this world a more pleasant time. It may – for all the laws that our Lord gave to us are good laws, and were designed with us in mind, for our benefit – but it may not. Ours is the victory because His is the victory. In the short term, perhaps in our lifetimes, we may “lose”. That’s irrelevant to those of us with faith in Christ, and in His promises to us.
Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one,
His soul is not right within him;
But the righteous will live by his faith.
God was NEVER to be used as a means to an end. He *is* the beginning and the end. Follow Him because He is Truth. Allow yourself to be made better from the inside out. The time for whitewashing the tombs is over.
The hatred for Christians? The building resentment? It’s not over. It’s not going to be over any time soon. Choose you this day who you will serve – and think it out. Our days of easy service are coming to an end.
Bunning said he, too, was religious, but he explained that when he took his oath to become a judge, that oath trumped his personal beliefs, the station reported. “Her good faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” Bunning said. That would be idolatry – putting something above God.