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World View

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: No Tolerance for Conviction

Of course, the pretty words in the grey box are one of the biggest lies of our generation. We live in a post-modern world. I don’t know all of what that means, but I do know that, as one person put it to me recently, some of the things I stand for because of conviction—things that were taken for granted as truth for Christians five decades ago—are “laughable” to the average person—maybe even “Christian”—today. Things like the exclusivity of Christianity; my belief that not everyone who has some loose belief in parts of the Word of God lives under the security umbrella of God’s eternal protection (Matthew 7:13,14, 21) . Things like the eternality of both heaven and hell; my belief that they are real and will both be “forever” abodes for people, based on whether or not those people obeyed the gospel (Matthew 25:31-46). Things like even the very concept of sin; that there are things we can do that will, without repentance, alienate us, for all time, from God. Things like doctrine; that there are teachings in the New Testament that are binding on Christians today as they relate to our worship, the organization of the body of Christ, and the moral and ethical behavior of His people. Things like the very concept of absolute truth and the adherence to God’s system of primary and delegated authority. 

“Tolerance” is the watchword, of course. What’s right for you may not be what’s right for me. Unfettered tolerance excludes absolute truth and certainly precludes my ever speaking to anyone about a concern for his/her eternal soul, especially when I might be implying that there is sin which must be put away in order to be pleasing to God. There are all sorts of “wicked” terms that define me if I have the idea that Christianity is exclusive of those with a relaxed attitude about what God has clearly defined as sin. Judgmental, intolerant, bigoted, homophobic, narrow-minded, haughty, holier-than-thou, and self-righteous are among the characterizations assigned to those who maintain that our God, as He’s expressed in His Word, cannot co-exist with sin. 

Sometimes we let the world’s post-modern view get into our hearts, as HIs people. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that God put us in the body so that we might help each other go to heaven . I need that accountability. I need the verbal accountability of those who are brave enough, in a world that would throw its “wicked” terms at them, to come to me and say, “Can I help you to take a step back and look at this sin?” I need those who, in spite of the vitriolic hatred of a post-modern world toward any adherence to truth, will bravely stand up and teach moral absolutes and who will plainly teach passages about worship and church organization. (The up-and-coming generation surely needs this, because relativism’s assault on their faith is unrelenting.) We (I) have to be careful in a world that looks at truth as some fluid entity that is unimportant, even if it exists, that we (I) don’t resent the body of Christ for the very thing that makes it so valuable to us/me. The church is the “called-out”. It’s the haven in this world where truth is real; the place I can go where my core values in Him are respected and where I am held to a standard of accountability to those values. It’s my spiritually safe place.

The thing is…a spiritually safe place will make me shrink back from embracing the concept of tolerance that’s the very ideological foundation of post-modern philosophy. I cannot say “I’m ok..you’re ok” if you are not adhering to God’s standard of truth about religion, about sin and about godliness. I can’t embrace our differences if those differences will keep one of us from heaven. I can’t ignore sin that damns in the lives of people I love. Because I have a safe place, the world becomes unsafe in some important respects. I am not in alignment with its philosophies. In fact, I must be in opposition to them at almost every turn. Confrontation, awkward conversations, declined invitations, exclusion from certain activities, and sometimes even loss of friendships or positions is a price I must pay for choosing love over tolerance. 

Love over tolerance. We will not always get the exact tone of our voices right in the conversations, borne of love, that we have with people about sin. But we still have to talk and do our very best to love them to heaven. We will sometimes be too soft in our approach and, at other times, we may seem harsh as we try to reach for souls that are in need, pulling them from the fire (Jude 23). But we still have to pray fervently and try. We, in turn, must be glad for the accountability that convicted people are willing to give us; always open to the guidance of faithful elders and glad for their reproof when we are going astray. That’s the temporary discomfort of discipline. It’s the right-now pain that yields an eternity with the Father. We should thank him for the accountability of the body of Christ. We should thank the family of God when we find our spiritually safe place there. 

The problem in our post-modern world is not really tolerance. It’s that there’s no tolerance for conviction. Conviction is founded on truth. And the idea of  any truth to which all people are accountable is a concept that’s simply unpalatable to and rejected by the masses in this post-modern world. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Black and Blue, One More Time…

15855236526_f011e17a96_bSometimes I do feel like my soul is black and blue from the devil’s attacks. I know Satan is trying his best to intimidate the people of God today in America. We’ve come to a point in our nation where single shootings and violent attacks against innocents—many times, massive ones—are becoming commonplace. It’s often difficult to speak out against these attacks without being labeled as racist. There is an implied suppression of dialog, especially toward those who would like to voice opposition to rioting and violence, but are white. 

Last week I wrote an article about the Black Lives Matter movement that has drawn some criticism. You can find that article here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/sister-to-sister-black-lives-matter-theres-no-band-aid.Today I’d like to write about the topic one more time to be sure I leave no mistake about the message I want to convey. I know that the world does not revolve around what I think about this or any topic. The world does revolve around our God’s Will, so I want to take great pains to be sure I align myself and anything I say or write with that holy Will.  I want my world view to be a Christian one rather than a political one. I do not wish to “take sides”…except with God. For the wisdom to do this, I always pray. 

First, I want to be very clear in noting that brutality and unnecessary physical force committed by policemen against people of any color is always morally wrong. I know that, in our flawed system, it occurs and I’m deeply sorry for any case in which it has. Any officer who can will himself to abuse another person should face severe consequences at the hands of our legal system. Prejudgement by policemen of criminal activity or prejudging of policemen to be profilers or abusers is wrong.

But it is the Biblical response of the populace of nations that I want to notice. In the book of Exodus, the children of Israel were under a very extreme form of bondage to Pharaoh and Egypt. Their lives were made more and more difficult. I think it’s important to note that, while Pharaoh was afraid they were mighty enough to revolt, their response that was ultimately rewarded was crying out to the God who was able to deliver them (Exodus 2:23). At this point, they had no additional legal system through which they could work. I am aware that Moses, in defense of an assaulted brother, killed an Egyptian taskmaster. But I do not find approval of that killing or a call to public violence or rioting. The avenue through which God led them from bondage was not pretty, but it was clearly at His own hand rather than at the hand of violent people. 

Was Pharaoh wrong in his treatment of Israel? Was he accountable to God for his behavior?  Clearly. But the Lord was the One who provided the exodus from that cruelty and the destruction of Pharaoh.

In the book of I Samuel, we see King Saul, a jealous man of rage, abusing David at every turn. David could have used his growing army to commit violence against Saul. On several occasions, he clearly had the opportunity and certainly the injustice of the whole situation must have plagued his soul. We see lots of evidence of this in the Psalms he penned. But his words were these:

And he said unto his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the LORD (I Samuel 24:6).

And he said them multiple times on multiple occasions. Was Saul unjust, abusive, and brutal toward David? He surely was. But David reacted within the confines of the will of God even in a situation in which He was the object of Saul’s plot to murder.

Again, in the book of Esther, we see Anti-Semitism at it’s worst in a man named Haman. He wanted the Jews to be annihilated every bit as badly as Hitler ever did. God’s system, once again, was to work though peaceful petition and the system of law to resolve the situation. 

Was Haman unjust and abusive toward an innocent people? Yes. But the prayers of those people coupled with the bravery of Mordecai and Esther to work through the will of the current government was the way change was effected.

In Romans 13, we find the strong New Testament admonition for God’s people to respect the government under which they find themselves. Here it is:

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 

Now, there are some things about this passage that I do not fully understand. But there are at least a couple that are clear. 

  1. Governing authorities have been instituted by God. There is not one that derived its power from any other than God. 
  2. We are to obey them for two reasons: because we fear wrath if we do not and because our conscience demands it. 

Scholars debate as to whether parts of this passage apply to the government of Nero, the cruel and inhumane ruler of Rome at the time of the writing, because obviously as a persecutor of Christians, Nero was a terror to both good conduct and bad. While I cannot be positive about that (perhaps the apostle was giving a general command accompanied by a general principle about those in authority), there is no getting around the fact that Paul was instructing civil obedience even in circumstances where governments were not Christian-friendly…even in situations where governments did not get justice correct every time…even when there is persecution to be faced at the hands of that government. Of course, Paul was, at this time headed for some of that persecution. 

One more example. I know this one is different because of the purpose of the whole situation. But our Lord was brutalized by the “police” in Jerusalem during that night of the Passover and the following day. He made a statement to Pilate just after Pilate had flogged him and allowed his soldiers to put the thorns on his head and strike him in the face. Here is the amazing statement Jesus made when Pilate asked him if he knew that he (Pilate) had the power to release him or put him (Jesus) to death. Here is the reply of Jesus: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” 

Was Pilate wrong to brutalize, flog, unjustly accuse and deliver Jesus to death? Of all the injustices ever committed, this was the most unjust. Yet, in the darkest hours of human history our Lord nailed down the source of the authority of government…even of a governor such as Pilate. 

Someone may object at this point: “But you know that God did, at times endorse revolt against wicked governments. Remember back in the book of judges when God specifically instructed his people to destroy the governments of Canaan, even killing the citizenry and plundering the cities?” Yes. But the key to understanding those situations is in the question itself. God specifically instructed. He did that with clarity in passages like Joshua 3:9-13 where He listed the nations to be overthrown and even gave the Israelites signs that He would be with them as they did this. He did this in I Samuel 15:1-3 with regard to Amalek. He gave precise and detailed instructions and punished King Saul when His orders were not fully followed.  He specifically instructed. He, the completely just God, gave the specifics. For our era, He has also specifically spoken about governments  and that instruction is in Romans 13.

Surely my heart goes out to those who have been unjustly accused or stricken…citizens and officers. The word is clear, though, about our respect for the government under which we live, whether or not that government is just.  Revolt, rioting, violence and anger  are not responses Christians can condone. Unbiased logic would lead one to believe that the support of the Black Lives Matter movement implicitly encourages those responses. 

Finally, Christians are the ones who are now on the brink of what may be a large scale persecution at the hands of a government that seems bound to force ministers to marry gay couples, bakeries to share in homosexual celebrations, and bed-and- breakfasts to knowingly provide rooms for the sin of homosexuality. Now is the time to stand in legal forums, to protest with your voices and votes, to continue to speak the Word of God in all of the arenas in which we have a voice.  But there may be a day when we are forced to suffer because we speak the truth about this subject. When that day comes, we will suffer, but we will not join the ranks of any who react with violence or harm to neighbors, community and/or law enforcement officials. The government will be on the wrong side of truth. It will be wicked. But it will still be the government.