Today’s news is completely irrelevant to me.
Thousands of pastors in Canada devoted their sermons last Sunday to affirming biblical sexual morality in response to a new law in their country some warn could criminalize such teachings. Bill C-4, which went into effect January 8, describes as a “myth” the belief that heterosexuality and cisgender identity are preferable. According to Fox News, “Counseling that does not align with such a worldview now carries a potential five-year jail sentence.”
However, I don’t live in Canada.
However, I don’t live on the East Coast and have no plans to fly this week.
The Supreme Court said Friday it will hear the case of a former Seattle-area football coach who refused to stop praying on the field and was removed from his job as a result. Americans United for Separation of Church and State is supporting the school district in its decision, claiming that “this case is about protecting impressionable students who felt pressured by their coach.”
However, no one in my family is in high school.
“There was no one left to speak for me”
I’m being facetious, of course.
Prosecuting Canadian Christians for believing biblical morality is likely a sign of things to come in the US. Plus, our sisters and brothers in Canada are our sisters and brothers. Likewise, those suffering under winter storms and flight cancellations are neighbors I am called to love (Matthew 22:39).
And what affects one family of faith affects all families of faith. A dear friend who saw the story about the Seattle football coach asked: high school students are “impressionable” if their coach happens to pray in public, but elementary school students being taught gender identity are not? Her questions speak to my grandchildren and to every child in America.
German pastor Martin Niemöller said of the Nazis, “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.
Three reasons to choose compassion
Yesterday I cited extensively from New York Times columnist David Brooks’ dire description of our culture as “falling apart at the seams.” I noted my belief that our country is experiencing God’s permissive judgment whereby he allows us the consequences of our freewill choices to reject his word and will.
But then I stated that today we would “focus on ways to respond with compassionate courage and truthful grace.” The key is recognizing and embracing our solidarity with our fallen society. You and I should do this for three reasons.
One: We are all broken.
The fact remains that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). I once heard a wise mentor say, “There is no sin I cannot commit.” The same is true for me and for you.
I am not committing the sins of those who embrace an LGBTQ lifestyle, but they may not be committing my sins. While there are definitely greater consequences for some sins than others, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), no matter the sin. (For more, please see my latest personal blog, “The spot on my shirt.”)
Two: Our culture is our mission field.
Jesus called us the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). Note the definite article indicating that we are the only light of the world. If you’re holding the only flashlight in a dark room, whose fault is the darkness? If more Christians acted more like Christ, how could our culture remain the same?
Three: Compassion is our best persuasion.
If Satan cannot get you to sin, he will tempt you to feel superior to those who do. Such superiority is itself a sin, as Scripture commands us: “Never be wise in your own sight” (Romans 12:16). It also keeps us from effectively helping other sinners turn to the Savior.
By contrast, a culture that measures truth by relevance will be drawn to our truth when it changes our lives. When they make our truth their truth, they will meet the Truth (John 14:6).
“The only three alternatives”
In my sermon last Sunday, I stated that lost people are not the enemy. A woman in the congregation replied, “No, they’re victims.” She’s absolutely right: the evil one who has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers” is the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12). Our calling is to give them what has been given to us out of gratitude for the privilege.
In The Problem of Pain, C. S. Lewis writes: “George Macdonald, in a passage I cannot now find, represents God as saying to men, ‘You must be strong with my strength and blessed with my blessedness, for I have no other to give you.’ That is the conclusion of the whole matter. God gives what he has, not what he has not: he gives the happiness that there is, not the happiness that is not.
“To be God—to be like God and to share his goodness in creaturely response—to be miserable—these are the only three alternatives.”
Let’s choose wisely and then help those we influence to choose wisely, to the glory of God.