One of my greatest responsibilities and frustrations is attempting to lead professing Christians to think biblically. I don't mean to just engage in a Bible study, or to read the Bible through in a year, or simply learn it's content. As a pastor I want to lead believers to think critically about their culture and choices while looking through the lens of Scripture. In other words, I'm talking about real life application in regards to correct belief (doctrine) and morality.
Our culture is increasingly chipping away at biblically guided principles for living. The inertia of secularism, skepticism and hedonism is consistently moving our culture in a more permissive direction, restricting more and more moral issues to the realm of private choice. Our younger generations are being conditioned to trade any authoritative source for truth and guidance for subjectivity and personal preference. The discussion tends to no longer be about what constitutes right or wrong on some issues, but what constitutes fairness, toleration, and open-mindedness.
I try to talk about current events with my high-school-aged son in a hope to help him think critically and biblically. The last couple of days we've discussed the social issue of gay marriage. Now, that our president has openly voiced that he supports the idea of recognizing gay marriage as legitimate marriage, the discussion on this topic will only intensify in this election year. Blogs will explode and activists will be invigorated on both sides. While all the heated debate goes on and the commentators express their views, I want to make sure that my son sizes up the issue as a believer should-with the Bible. This is my Christian parental duty under the Lordship of Christ and no less.
As a pastor I feel compelled to challenge my flock to think biblically about social issues as well. Every believer should be holding up the plumb line of God's Word to all issues - those that involve homosexuality, the sanctity of human life, the treatment of the poor, war, worldliness, idolatry, modesty, entertainment, and so forth. All of life, for a believer, should be brought under the authority of God's Word. We must cultivate an intellectual default setting in our minds and a chief desire in hearts to want to know what God says about any issue through His Word and allow that to inform our opinions.
Politicians pander to their constituents, both liberal and conservative. Few speak or act from genuine conviction. (obviously, I have a trust issue when it comes to politicians) The Bible doesn't pander; the Bible proclaims what is revealed by God to be true. God doesn't ask for my approval, only my obedient response to His loving call on my life. Church people need to learn that they honor God when they love Him and not this world. To love God, we must know what to think about these hot-button social issues. We love God with how we live our lives, not merely by how we feel.
Most importantly, we need to be able to defend biblically the position that God's Word constrains us to take. Too many Christians can't do this well. Furthermore, a defense of a biblical perspective on gay marriage or any other issue, must be done with compassion and humility of spirit. There should be a brokenness over sin, not a spirit of anger that reeks of hatred. Being bold with God's Word is desirable, being a jerk in the name of God is blasphemous. We need to teach our people the difference and model proper Christian boldness for them.
As America continues its slide into greater moral darkness, the church needs to shine even more brightly. If the church's biblical witness dims alongside the world, then moral confusion will reign as people stumble along in spiritual darkness. Additionally, the church will lose its power and credibility. The doctrinal and moral positions of the church can't be left to what I or any person thinks. They must be determined and guarded by a legitimate authority, who is only God Himself. God informs and leads His people by His Word; His people in turn are commissioned to be salt and light in the world as they proclaim and live out biblical principles and precepts.
Pastors, teach the Word faithfully and clearly to your people! Teach them to think and live with a biblical view on issues. Teach them to be bold and loving. Teach them to put God above all.
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