Terry Francis, one of the Evangelists at East Shelby, shares some of his thoughts and discoveries from studying the scriptures. Feel free to check back for new posts!
The Supreme Court has ruled the Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional and opened the door for same-sex marriage in California. The immediate reaction by many Christians around the country was disbelief, disgust, and disappointment—all understandable reactions. It’s difficult to understand such ungodly decisions being made by a country that has “In God we trust” engraved on their currency. After all, the Ten Commandments are featured prominently in the Supreme Court building—the very building that housed such a ruling. How can this be?
There is a lesson to be learned here. It just may not be the lesson we want to hear. What’s more difficult to understand than the government failing to uphold Biblical principles is the very thought that the government is the key to promoting and upholding Biblical principles. Every year Christians admit to voting for the “lesser of the two evils” and then shake their heads in disbelief when politicians fail to uphold morality. These are politicians who have been proven to be liars, accepters of bribes, drunkards, fornicators and adulterers, and open homosexuals. And yet we expect them to uphold God’s laws?
What role does God expect the government to have? They are a terror to bad conduct (Romans 13:1–4). While we would certainly deem homosexuality as “bad conduct,” it doesn’t appear that is the idea in the context. They are avengers carrying out wrath for bad conduct. Government is appointed by God to help avenge wrong doing to others such as stealing, fraud, murder, etc. Government is also to provide the ability to lead a quiet and peaceable life that is godly and dignified (1 Timothy 2:1–3). We are told to pray for them in this role. The willingness (or unwillingness) of government to legislate morality doesn’t change my ability to live peaceable, dignified, and godly.
For the record, there are many laws that already allow other forms of immorality. One example is today’s permissive divorce laws. One who is divorced for any reason outside of sexual immorality is just as guilty of sin as the one who practices homosexuality (Matthew 19:1–9). Both laws have attacked and damaged the home.
The lesson to be learned today is not that our country is headed towards immorality. Truthfully, that’s old news. The greater lesson to be learned today is that it is not the job of government to promote God’s truth—it is our job. Just as we continue teach against the drunkenness, fornication, divorce, and other openly committed legal sins in our culture, we will continue to teach against homosexuality.
No law or court ruling can change the truth. There is only one truth. And there is only one God. It is our job to promote His truth regardless of what our leaders say or do. As one friend of mine said, “The Supreme Court doesn’t have authority over the Supreme Ruler.”
The verb struggle is defined as “to proceed with difficulty or with great effort.” The noun struggle is defined as “an act of strong motivated striving.” That’s a good description of life—or at least my life. We spend our lives struggling with life.
I struggle with being a good person. I struggle with being a good husband, father, neighbor, friend, and Christian example. I don’t always say the right things. I don’t always do the right things. I don’t always do what I know I should or even what I say I will do. It’s not that I want to fall so short. I just do. And that causes more struggle. That sounds somewhat familiar though…
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? —Romans 7:18-24
Paul struggled just like me. He was frustrated with his struggle… just like me. It even appears there were days that he almost felt like the struggle was too much… just like me.
Paul asks the question, “Who will deliver me?” Thankfully, he provides the answer: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). Thankfully, there is hope. Through Jesus I can overcome my struggles.
It is important to remember when we are lost in the “struggle” of life that God loves and cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). He wants to help us overcome the struggle and even works in us to accomplish that task (Ephesians 2:8–10). There are days Satan uses our emotional response to our struggles to cause us to forget these important truths. But we must always remember God is on our side. He wants us to overcome.
As you go through the struggle of life, cling to God. He will see carry you through.
Like many churches, every summer we have Vacation Bible School. It’s neat to be able to see different children from the area each morning of the week. It’s an exciting time. Our classrooms are decorated. Our teachers are energized. And our students learn great lessons from the Bible.
This week our VBS brought to mind all of the “little children” passages of the bible. They are numerous. Now, we know these passages aren’t speaking about infants and toddlers only. The phrase “little children” was used by John to refer to the disciples. Consider a few of those:
- My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. —1 John 2:1
- I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name's sake. —1 John 2:12
- Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. —1 John 3:7–8
- Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. —1 John 3:18
- Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. —1 John 4:4–8
- Little children, keep yourselves from idols. —1 John 5:21
Perhaps it would be good for all of us to humble ourselves, act like “little children,” and follow the wisdom given by John in these passages.
This past week every news outlet carried the news story of Jason Collins. Collins is the NBA player who officially announced that he was a homosexual. Many well-known people applauded Collins’ announcement—the POTUS called Collins to congratulate him, the First Lady tweeted encouragement, and other sports stars spoke fondly of his announcement. It seemed like everyone was excited about the promotion of this sin.
Well… not everyone. Enter ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard. Broussard commented last week on the ESPN show “Outside the Lines” by saying, “I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality. I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is… I believe that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I do not think the Bible would characterize them as a Christian." PGA golfer Bubba Watson tweeted, “Thanks @Chris_Broussard for sharing your faith & the bible!! #GodIsGood.” (I know nothing about the doctrinal background of Broussard or Watson but I do know they have stood for biblical principles this week!).
It’s important to realize that there was a minority of people who stood up for the good moral principles found in God’s Word. But it’s not the first time. In the days of Noah, we see that the population of the world was destroyed and only eight were saved (Genesis 7:7). Abraham was unable to find even ten faithful men in Sodom (Genesis 18:32). I know what some of you are thinking… God destroyed those people. But keep in mind that despite the multitudes that followed Jesus, there were only 120 disciples left when he ascended (Acts 1:15). God’s people have always been in the minority. Jesus said it would always be that way (Matthew 7:13–14).
I would encourage us to be strengthened by the comments of men like Broussard and Watson. I fear that too often we view events like this past week with only the lens of pessimism and negativity. We only focus on how bad things are while ignoring the positives. The fact that someone (anyone) stands up publicly on a platform such as ESPN and risks their career in the process (ESPN has apologized for Broussard’s comments but at this point has not terminated him) should encourage us. Watson faces the same risks as sponsors could be tempted to separate themselves from a professional golfer who openly opposes homosexuality (side note: I’m forever a Bubba Watson fan now!).
These two examples should encourage us to take similar stands for morality. Neither have been obnoxious or hateful in their comments. Both have glorified God in the process. We can follow their good example. We should follow their example. May God help us to take similar stands of righteousness with the same dignity, integrity, and character.