Thursday, May 10, 2012

An Unpopular Message

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." [2 Peter 3:10-13, NKJV]

In the news today are two opposite stances on the legal recognition of homosexual marriage in our country. North Carolina has determined that such unions contradict their constitution. President Obama has expressed his support for the legal recognition of homosexual unions as marriage. There are a lot of celebrations and grumblings on both sides of the issue because of these announcements.

As a Christian, though, this matters very little to me, that is, it matters very little to me what my President thinks about this, and it matters little to me that North Carolina has taken the stance it has. It matters little to me, because I do not look to the government to create right and wrong. It matters little to me because my hope is not in this world. My hope is in Christ. My hope is in His Kingdom, which is established by His cross and resurrection. My hope lies in a reality that supersedes all other realities. My world revolves around He Who Is, Who Was, and Who Is Coming. He is the light in my sky, the food on my table, the origin of my species, the only true goodness, and the only future that exists.

Most people in our society have a different perspective than this. Most people see only the earth which is passing away. Did Christ not say, "Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" [Luke 18:8, NKJV]. Their hearts have become animalistic through the love of wicked things and self aggrandizement. The love of wicked things prevents a man's heart from being able to find the Kingdom that Christ says is within you [Lk 17:21]. But this is considered normal in the world - among our friends and family and co-workers and such - and no one notices any problem. They seem to want it that way. And Christians face the same temptations, though it is through the mercy and power of God that we are being made into something different.

Christians in our society are characterized as a people with a message to be believed. While it is true we have a message of Good News for the world, it is also true that we have an unpopular message that comes with it. The Good News is good for those who accept it. It is not good for everyone else. Peace, renewal, salvation is our message, but so is judgment, revealing of secrets, and a definite End. This creation has its source in spirit - in the God who is spirit - and God will not endure wickedness forever, for it grieves His heart that men's hearts are evil [Gn 6:5-6]. He endures it now, says St. Peter [2Pt 3:9], so that all may have time to return and change and be changed by the grace of God. This is all God wants from us, that we turn our hearts back to Him and begin to do the good so that we may live [Ez 18:21-32].

But the End shall come. The End of this world, the End of wickedness, the End of devilry, unbelief, and perversion – and the End of not knowing God. All will know God, because He will appear and all that ever lived will appear before Him. But the hearts that were bitter against Him in this life, smoldering against Him in this world will ignite in agony from meeting Him face to face. The One they despised from afar will come near, and their hearts will overcome them in agony. The hearts that changed, though, and that came to their senses and were anointed with the love of God will radiate joyfully with the fire of His love when they meet Him face to face. The One they believed in and loved will draw near, and their hearts will overcome them in joy.

God will cause those who believe Him and love as He loves to endure in His Kingdom beyond the End of this world. His Kingdom shall endure, and because of His enduring Kingdom the world that is today shall be transformed, purified, and made new. The very work that Christ desires to work in every man's heart and life will in the End, after the heat and judgment, be accomplished for creation itself. There will be a new - a renewed - heaven and earth. Then creation shall no longer groan in expectation, but shall come into joy. In this End all that is contrary to God shall be shut out, and only the Good shall remain.

Most people in the world will not be part of this. That's a strong statement but it is sadly true. For most people their hope is in this world, and this world is the limit of that hope. So while in this world they build kingdoms after their desires. Today it is homosexual marriage. Before that it has been killing unborn children (and this continues). Before that the sexual revolution (and this continues). Tomorrow it will be something more. Eventually it will be absolute war against Christianity - and this has already begun, but I mean it will be more overt.

And while in this world they resist the Truth. God has implanted the Truth in each person, for He made us after His own image, but they will continue to heap up reasons not to believe: there are so many gods to choose from, "I only believe in science" (Nacho Libre comes to mind), religious people are often bad so religion must be bad (this is a logical fallacy), etc. All this serves to insulate their hearts from the real issue.

It all comes down to the heart: "This is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" [John 3:19-20, NKJV].

The battleground is the human heart, between righteousness and perversion, faith and unbelief, divine love and self-love. From our hearts we must become different. We are all sick, spiritually ill, and even physically warped by our spiritual ailment. From our hearts we must come to our senses and become willing to change toward Christ. The few who are and (by God's grace) do are true Christians. Scripture shows, though, that in these Last Days most will not because they love their sickness. That only leaves them this world, this time, to fashion their tower of Babel, their illusion of reality.

So the President, after showing great intolerance to religious freedom (a Constitutional term) earlier this year, now voices his support for legally recognizing homosexual unions as "marriages." This is not of God; it's the world and Babel. On the other hand one state in the union is blocking homosexual marriage. This comes about because we live in a democratic society where the will of the majority in the society has a certain amount of say in what goes on. People of faith still have a say, though who can say if that's the motivation in this case (only God knows). But it will not last. These are the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. These are the days of Jeroboam's revolt and of Babylon. These are the days when man repeats the error of Babel. Scripture has foretold it. And in the end the Scriptures will be fulfilled.

For those of us who have been made Christians, I am of the opinion that we should say what we believe, vote as Christians, but not argue with unbelievers about homosexual unions. Our argument is not one of "reason," but of reasonable faith and faithful reason. Their argument is one of reason in a spiritual vacuum / of unbelieving reason - which is limited to this world that is passing away. It is reason without eyes. Society cannot be held accountable to Christ - yet - because society is not baptized into Christ, not sealed with the Holy Spirit, not communicants of Christ's Body and Blood, not a participant in the Eschatological Kingdom. Society will be made accountable to Christ when He comes on the Last Day, because on that Day there will be a baptism in fire, the permanence of the Kingdom, and the visible presence of Christ on His judgment seat.

If we are to engage our world we must first look to Christ to change our own hearts after His sacred heart that loves us enough for Him to be crucified and die for us. We must seek to enter into the mystery of God's heart and find God's burning, fiery love for mankind that seeks to inflame us with goodness, peace, and love. In the mystery of the fire of God's love we will see how no wicked thing can exist there, and how blessed it is to be made good by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. This is a deep mystery, but it is the mystery of the faith open to all who believe, who will walk in Christ's ways because they believe Him and love Him and are being made new by Him each and every day.

Being changed by Christ is a life-long process for us in this world. Only when we have begun to be changed by the gift of God can we actually open our mouths and speak to unbelievers with the hope that they will change and follow Christ on a given issue - or at all. The message is transformation through the gift of God. We are poor witnesses if we ourselves are not willing to be transformed. But this is the reality to which we must bear witness in this world. This is the only salvation for men, and the only hope in the skirmishes over morality in our society. But then again, considering how the Pharisees responded to St. Stephen, we ought to remain sober about what is likely to happen to Christians confessing Christ in the world.