The Supreme Court announced their decision regarding state issued bans on same-sex marriage on Friday morning. Social media came alive with reaction; supporters changed their profile image to the rainbow flag and used the hashtag #lovewins, some angry Christians expressed despair in the collapse of America and quoted verses from Leviticus. But what caught my attention were the Christians that calmly reminded us we live in and also apart from the culture we are immersed in.
I pastor a small SBC church in the deep South. Below is my Sunday morning sermon, directed to my own congregation with all Christians everywhere in mind. Whatever your initial reaction was to Friday’s news, please prayerfully consider this position:
1 Peter 3:15 is the basis for Christian Apologetics. Apologetics may sound like apologizing but an apologist is one that defends the Christian faith. It’s about being prepared to answer questions about why we believe what we believe. One must be well versed in scripture and certain that his own faith has been built on a sure foundation. Apologetics may involve boldness, defending a faith that is not always popular, but care must also be taken not to offend. We will offend people by sharing the Gospel; but we must be sure is the cross that offends and not us.
We must remember what we are called to. (1 Peter 3:13-17) We are called to live differently than the world. We are surrounded by and active participants in society but our values and judgement system is different. We are called to walk circumspectly and to show our faith by living according to our principles. We are called to go into all the world and make disciples (Mark 16:15) to demonstrate our faith by the action of our good works (James 2:17) to be salt of the earth and light of the world (Matt 5:13-16).
We are called to spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:10-18 is all about putting on the whole armor of God, but pay attention to who the enemy is. We wrestle not against flesh and blood… The people you meet each day, regardless of the spiritual or moral condition, are your neighbors. They are the mission field. The spiritual wickedness in high places is not on Capitol Hill, it is cosmic forces in heavenly places. We do not engage the enemy in spiritual warfare by carrying signs in the streets, by arguing with strangers on the internet or contending in our nation’s court system. Our enemy is not made of flesh and blood – that is our mission field. Those are people made in God’s image and that Christ died to save.
We are not called to change the culture. Never be surprised that the world acts like the world. Romans 1:18-31 condemns homosexuality and a whole host of other sinful acts but look at the audience; Paul was writing to the church at Rome and not preaching a sermon on the street corner. Paul is speaking to Christians about the difference between how we live and how they live. In his missionary journeys throughout the Greek and Roman world he was surrounded by a corrupt culture that we in America can probably only begin to imagine. Research Greek bathhouses sometime or read up on the ancient Olympic games. Paul was well aware of what was going on around him in the culture but we don’t see him starting petitions are carrying signs in the streets. We see him starting churches and training leaders. We see him sharing the Gospel and teaching others to imitate what he did (just as he imitated Christ).
We cannot win the culture war. We have not been called to fight the culture war. Fighting the culture war distracts us from the things we have been called to. The president is not your pastor, members of Congress are not our deacons, the Supreme Court is not our final judge. The nations of this world will pass away, heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of God will never pass away. We are pilgrims and strangers in this world looking for a kingdom not make by human hands. We will be judged based on whether we knew to good and did it or not. Look at Jesus as he was tried by Pilate and Herod. Look at Stephen as he is stoned in Acts 7. We do not win by winning. We do not win by being stronger. In our weakness, God is strong.
Barack Obama is the leader of our country – I am the spiritual leader in my home. I will stand before God and give an account not of how many petitions I signed, or which candidates I endorsed; I will give an account of whether or not I loved my wife, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; if I provided for my family; if I raised my child in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Did I rightly divide the Word of Truth? Was I faithful until the end?
Remember the Titanic? As that ship was sinking many perished needlessly because there were not enough lifeboats. This world is sinking. It will end in disaster, God has ordained it and prophesied it. The Gospel provides more than enough life boats for everyone. Our call is not to stop the ship from sinking, it’s to invite people into the boats.