This was written specifically to the Christian as we process cultural issues that are on the rise.
The other night, Eric was going through a talk he was giving to college students at our church, and I was sitting at the table listening to him process. It was getting late (for me, anyways…early bird here!), and I was having a little bit of an attitude about sitting there listening to him type. His fingers type SO LOUD.
As he began reading some of his talk, it stirred in my heart a reminder of how much I love theology. The pastors of the college ministry we were apart when we went to NC Sate, did such an intentional job of cultivating a love for Scripture in our hearts. We learned to study all facets of it and learned to value it above all other teaching, all opinions, and all feelings.
As my heart was stirred, I began to think about all the issues of our culture today and crave a theological basis for each one. You see, I feel a lot. And many cultural beliefs that are on the rise have really challenged me to think deeper. So while he was working, I decided these cultural issues needed to be discussed, so I interrupted him, and he graciously listened.
I talked and cried. I mean I really cried. He said, ” ARE YOU CRYING???”…YES. I cried because so many people I love are neglecting the church because they feel such strong convictions about issues they feel the church is ignoring. Or maybe not even ignoring but don’t believe in. I cried about how the LGTB community feels such rejection from the Evangelical community, and questioned what we could do to help them know they are loved and welcomed. I questioned why we choose some things in the New Testament as cultural assumptions, but others as black and white. I questioned every secondary issue I grew up believing. I even asked why some see particular sins as “less of an issue” than others, and that it bothers me.
I’m thankful my husband has a Seminary degree and has taught theology in many settings, so because of this, he could handle my questions. You know what? Scripture can handle it too. And through all of my questions, pushes and dissection, it’s still infallible.
I think a lot. I process a lot. And to choose to believe something because it is simply what I feel should be right or because it is what I have always been told is correct, is not something I’m okay with. I want to abide by Scripture and what God says using ALL of Scripture, not just one verse here and there. I want to obey God regardless of the way I feel about a particular issue, and if you are a Christian and tell me that you just feel something is right, I simply cannot support you from a theological standpoint.
For the Christian (on both sides of the fence), I hope you will consider this:
+I challenge you to think outside of the way you’ve always thought. Our culture is changing rapidly and we cannot dismiss these issues with flippant one-liners. Really deeply think about them. We have got to learn how to love people in all areas of life. REALLY love them. Consider the other side, read Scripture in it’s entirety, and let that guide what you believe. Warning: Your world may be rocked if you haven’t done this.
+Neglect your own desires for the sake of obedience to Scripture. Whether something feels natural, unnatural, oppressed, too free…let’s set those feelings aside and let’s align our hearts desires to Jesus and to Scripture in it’s entirety.
Christians no longer fall into a cookie-cutter stereotype. We have often been labeled by the secular world by abiding by a list of DO’s and DONTs, judgement, and exclusion. But now? As social media has become a platform for voicing our beliefs and opinions, the reality is that we have a category of beliefs that are all over the board. On one side, we have some who believe in the rights of women, particularly in church leadership. On the other side, there are others who argue against women in church leadership, and some, somewhere in between. We have some who feel strongly about the inclusion of all people into church membership and service, and we have other’s who feel strongly against it. There are Christians who fall to the political Left, others to the political Right, and then some in the middle. Social media allows for all of these opinions and beliefs of Christians to be voiced, dissected, and argued.
Y’all. My head has been spinning. I desire to make sense of all sides, but if I hold it up to all of Scripture and it doesn’t stand, then I have to lay it down. But what about some of these issues that are gray? I know people who love Jesus a lot that are truly confident in their side. If you are anything like me, all of this has made you challenge yourself too. It has bothered me to the point of anxiety. What if I get it wrong? All I want to do is be obedient to God. All I want to do is glorify Him, what if I choose the wrong side of the issue and misrepresent God? Yikes. That is HEAVY.
But you know what? All of these are secondary and tertiary theological issues.
What does that mean?
It means that Jesus still died, rose from the grave, and is saving us.
It means that we are still covered by His love, His mercy, and His unending grace.
It means that His character is always the same. He is always good. He is always just.
It means that He is faithful to finish what He started in us, and He is truly for our good.
It means that He is Sovereign, and we can trust that all things will ultimately work for His good.
We do want to strive to get these secondary and tertiary issues right (meaning they are not to be ignored), but we have to remember that God looks at the intent of our hearts, not as a judge who is ready to strike us with lightening if we get it wrong. Are we truly striving to obey Him and His convictions guided by His Word? I pray that our hearts will be faithful to grow in likeness to Christ and be weary of belief that is driven by our feelings, assumptions, or even just one verse in all of Scripture. There is a time to voice our opinions, and we still want to be faithful to rightly consider these issues, but let it be filtered by taking a look at all the facets of the written Word of God. Yet sometimes, we must lay our down our swords and fight, and simply unite in these promises that are always right and always true. We can rest, because our hope is validated. We can rest because Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is NOT a gray area. I find great comfort in this as I think through all of these various issues, and I hope you can too.