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A Biblical Response to Today's Most Divisive Issues
Where do you stand on issues like: Truth, Sex, Homosexuality, Abortion, the Environment, and the Church and Politics? More importantly, what does God say? If there ever was a time for Christians to understand and communicate God’s truth about controversial and polarizing issues, it is now. More than ever before, believers must develop convictions based on research, reason, and biblical truth. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s equally important that you’re able (and willing) to communicate these convictions with a love and respect that reflects God’s own heart. This series will help you learn how to respond with love, even in the face of controversy. In the process, you’ll discover the power of bringing light – not heat – to the core issues at the heart of society today.More from this series
We are going to do something a little different. I want you to picture, in your mind, just hypothetically, that you’re in a moment in history, and you’re in a moment in history where you have heard these amazing things about this man named Jesus. And He is the buzz.
And some of you were actually there when He fed the five thousand. You were up early in the front row seat and you saw the discussion and the couple of fish and the bread and then you have been curious, you have been following, What does it mean to follow Him? Could He be the Messiah? And what is He really calling us to? And so He stayed up all night and He prayed and He chose twelve and then as He did, then He wanted to lay out for them, “This is the journey; this is the life. The kingdom of heaven the way God wants life to work has come down to the kingdom of earth,” and He is going to talk about being a kingdom citizen.
When a rabbi sat down, he sat down as one with authority. And if you have your Bible, you can open it up and please follow along and this is the very important, the most famous sermon by Jesus, where He lays out, This is what it means in your heart and your life and your attitudes and what it’s going to look like to be a follower of this radical God who came to earth.
“Now, when they saw the crowds,” Matthew chapter 5 verse 1, “He went up on the mountainside and He sat down, and the disciples came to Him and He began to teach them, saying,” and He goes through what is known as “The Beatitudes,” about, This is what the kingdom looks like. This is who you are to be. This is where you find joy. This is fulfillment. This is alignment.
Then after He talks about those characteristics, where a heart that is changed, where supernaturally you are following Jesus, then He says something about you all that are now followers.
Verse 13, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, you are to let your light so shine before men, that they could see your good deeds,” your kind acts, your amazing acts of love, and pause because of how you live, “and give glory and praise to your Father in heaven.”
If you know historically, salt was very valuable. It was used for a number of purposes but one thing, it preserved. They didn’t have a lot of refrigeration, so salt preserved things from corrupting. There is a metaphor there. Salt flavored things. It changed the taste of things. We change the taste, the direction, the sense of culture.
Light does two or three things. Number one, light exposes. Light reveals. But, also, when you’re in a jam and you don’t know what to do, just a tiny little bit of light you can see a candle from ten miles away. It gives direction. And you are the called-out ones by God to give direction, to reveal who God is, to live the kind of lives and the kind of love and the kind of holiness and the kind of winsomeness that actually begins to shape all the culture around us.
My concern is what has happened inside the Church. And when I say “Church,” I don’t mean just anyone who claims to be Christian, anyone who intellectually says they believe in Jesus. I’m talking about those of us in this room, people that unashamedly believe this is the Word of God. That the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, left the glory of heaven, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, revealed what the Father is like – full of truth and grace.
And after living that perfect life, went to the cross to die in your place as your substitute to pay for your sin and the sins of all men and all time. And after He died, He rose from the dead, physically and bodily, and He walked around on the earth for forty days, speaking about the kingdom to five hundred eyewitnesses. And then He gave them a commission that is still ours: to make disciples of every ethnos, every people group, all over the earth to tell them that your sins have been forgiven, it is good and wonderful news. There is a good God and He loves you and He wants relationship with you.
And we boldly, lovingly, winsomely go into all the world and preach the gospel by our words and by our lives. And that we believe He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, praying and making intercession for us, and He will come again in His glory and what He expects is a bride, unspotted, without wrinkle, pure and holy. That’s called “The Church.”
My concern is what has happened to that group. And that group is us. Do you understand that you are living in the fastest changing period in all of human history? Information, every three to four years, is doubling. I have been all around the world and I have been to Soweto, South Africa. I have been in the slums of the world. There are more mobile phones now in many countries than there are people, America being one of them.
The world is changing rapidly, and with technology, lots of things have happened in the Church and I want to ask: what has happened to the salt and the light? And all I want to do, please hear, the heart of this is not at all in terms of condemnation.
I have lived the major part of my ministry life in either Santa Cruz or the Silicone Valley. That’s the Bay Area. We are one of the richest areas in the world. Thirty-one percent of the people where I live were born outside of the United States. Fifty-one percent speak another language at home. We have one of the strongest and largest homosexual populations.
Less than four percent of the people where I live go to any church. So what really matters to me is when they meet a person who says, “I am a follower of Jesus,” are they salty? Are they light? Do they bring light?
Let me do a little history lesson. I’m going to show you two timelines just to give you a snapshot of how rapidly things have changed in the last fifty years. I made up this little chart and the far right, you’ll see, righteousness. I call that a “Plus Ten.” Wickedness, a “Minus Ten.”
And I’m just talking biblical morality. Right, wrong, stealing, lying, Ten Commandments, purity. And so let’s just make a “Plus ten righteousness.” In the 1950s, I’m saying belief and behavior. Not that everyone lived this way but the culture. The culture in general of the Church and then of the world. The whole world system. What would be on those three little channels that we had back then? There wasn’t an internet.
And what I can tell you is in the fifties, marriage was viewed as a covenant. Divorce was in the low single digits inside the Church, and actually, the low single digits outside the Church. Sexual purity was a standard. If you went to high school in the fifties and someone got pregnant, it was scandalous. Abortions were illegal and homosexuality was a sin.
And so those were the Church’s beliefs and behaviors. And so the world was - movie stars got divorces, abortions happened in back alleys, illegally. Of course some people dabbled in the homosexual lifestyle. But by and large, that was the world. So here is the question: Four thousand years of biblical morality, in fifty years, how has it changed?
And more importantly, how has it changed in the Church? And again, this isn’t just individuals but the general belief behaviors in the Church. And when the Church, this is Evangelical, Bible believing, “We love Jesus; we have had a supernatural birth,” Church.
After the sixties revolution, by the two thousands, the divorce rate in the Church and outside the Church is roughly the same at about fifty percent. Sixty-five percent of women who have abortions self-identify as either Catholic, Protestant, or Evangelical.
Sexual immorality, and by that I mean people living together or having casual sex in the Church of Jesus Christ in the eighteen to twenty-nine year old category is about thirty-four, thirty-five percent. The adoption of homosexuality in the mainline denominations happened fifteen to twenty years ago and the Revisionist movement, currently, among Bible believing churches is that homosexuality in monogamous relationships, especially in the younger generation, thirty percent of our teens believe that homosexuality in our Bible churches is okay.
And so there is a dramatic shift. I mean, that is, ask yourself how, I mean, just stop. And it’s hard to do this. One thousand, okay, Ten Commandments, Moses. One thousand, two thousand, three thousand, Jesus, four thousand. Four thousand years of: these are absolute moral, core, biblical absolutes. And in fifty years, inside the Church, let alone in the culture…
And so what happens is, imagine if you will, the Church and our beliefs and behavior, imagine a string connected to the world system. And when the Church is moving toward righteousness, the world follows along to some degree.
In other words, let’s make this box the culture of America. And inside of it, in the fifties, the culture of the Church was pretty big. And so we influenced it. There were ethics and people, though they may agree or disagree, that what was right and wrong, those things, we influenced our culture.
Fifty years later, here we are in American culture and now this small little box is Evangelical Bible believers, and the arrows are the culture shaping us. How did it happen? How did it happen?
I think, in our honesty, we would say the beliefs and behaviors of the average Evangelical Bible teaching church, where I pastor, and around America are not very salty.
Well, let me give you the symptoms. The symptoms are sexual immorality, politics, and the environment. Now, I want you to know, when the Scripture talks about sexual immorality, it’s a very broad term. Porneia is the word in Greek. And all kinds of things fall underneath that. So this iceberg is, you know, ten percent of an iceberg is above. So here are the things that people, in terms of sexual immorality, abortion usually results from some level of either their sexual immorality, or We don’t want a child. Adultery, cohabitation, pornography, fornication, homosexuality – all of those the Bible would call sexual immorality.
And then you have politics and the environment. And here’s all I want you to see. Those are symptoms. They are nothing more than symptoms. But inside the Church and outside the Church, this is where people battle and yell and scream at one another.
And so here is what I want you to do. Are you ready? I want you, in your mind’s eye now, to go back to the beginning. God’s desired intent before there was sin. So He is creating. It’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s good, it’s very good. And He breathes life into man. And from God’s perspective all through Scripture, life is the most precious commodity in the universe.
We are made in the image of the living God. “Let Us make man in Our image.” And so God has always protected life. What does abortion do to life? It snuffs it out before it even starts. After there was life, what was the first thing that happened? God brought the woman to the man and He instituted the first institution called “marriage.”
And long before there was sin there was a man and a woman and they would come together and they would be naked and unashamed and well beyond physically. In other words, they would have emotional, spiritual, physical intimacy. There would be connection. No hiding, no shame, no past, no baggage. And they were to multiply and they would multiply and have children and as the family would multiply and children came, they developed what is called “community.”
And in community there is something, every community has to figure out priorities and who gets what and why. And when the communities grow larger they become a city. You know what the Greek word for city is? Polis. We get our word politics.
And so politics is nothing more, nothing less, than the arrangement of how communities should live with one another and where the power should be aligned for the highest good.
If you went to Webster’s and said, “Politics,” it would not say, “Corrupt people making lots of money who are hypocrites and make promises and lie and their agenda.” It doesn’t say that there. The word is not a dirty word.
But I want you to get God’s dream, God’s picture, because underneath all of this is a lie. The enemy is attacking. He is attacking the core things of the goodness of God: life, marriage, family, community. And then what did He do? He created this amazing, beautiful – I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and so do you.
And whether it’s the beauty of the Everglades, or whether it’s the ocean, or whether it’s the redwoods that go up three hundred feet, it’s majestic and it’s powerful. It’s the environment, it’s the earth that He made us stewards of.
And what you see is, when we believe lies, then pretty soon life doesn’t matter and violence is the answer. Marriage doesn’t matter and sexual immorality, of any kind, brings death.
In this room, hear my heart, this is not us and them. I’m guessing there are probably more than a handful of women that have found out, in your season of life, that your husband had an addiction to pornography. What did that do to your marriage? How did you feel? The betrayal. The hurt.
There are a lot of men, that they don’t want to do that and feel stuck and trapped. I’m sure there are many of you in a group this size that have had a mate walk out on you. I married a woman whose mate walked out on her. And she wasn’t a Christian. He secretly was having an affair. He was doing drugs and that was their lifestyle and he was selling and he had an affair on the side, and when she got pregnant with twin little boys, he left. And in her desperation, her boss led her to Christ.
And I met her a few years later as one of the most wonderful, godly people and I got to adopt those little boys. But I will tell you, I have been married thirty-five years. We are unpacking, have unpacked, been through counseling. The pain, when you have been rejected and hurt. What does it do to relationship?
There are people that have cohabitated and slept around and they don’t like sex in marriage anymore. Here’s all I want you to hear. It’s not about this or that or right or wrong or legalism. It’s about God longing to bring life, unity, intimacy, health, and community. And in this beautiful place He called earth.
And so those are the areas. And so those are each a chapter of the book [Culture Shock] to address: how do you bring light to those? But they are symptoms. They are not the problem. Look right below the waterline. The problem is much deeper. It’s about truth. Is truth relative or is truth absolute?
Absolute truth is that I believe this all the time, it’s factual, it’s not subjective. It’s like gravity. I believe gravity is true. I can be over here and say, “I really disagree with you. I don’t really feel that way about gravity. I went to college and I read some books and gravity isn’t really all that true.”
Okay, so we agree to disagree. And I say, “Well, why don’t we test this. Let’s stand on the edge of a three story building, and you don’t believe in gravity so why don’t you step off and we’ll see.” See, whether you believe in gravity or not, the consequences are about the same when you step off a three story building. Right?
See, relative truth never works in the concrete, physical realities of life. But philosophically, it does. It’s what we have been taught.
I came to Christ right after high school. I was discipled by a guy who loved me deeply. I had this radical transformation in my life. I was a slow learner. And so a lot of the things I’m talking about, the reason I know about them is I didn’t do well early, okay?
I really get what it’s like to [go through], “Man, that Bible study on Thursday night was awesome!” “And, Chip, you have the relational skills, so when we hit all the bars in Wheeling, West Virginia, you introduce us to all the girls.” And then thinking, Oh, God, I’m sorry. I’ll never do that again. I’m really sorry. I’m making church once a month and I’m trying really hard. And guilt, guilt, shame, shame, divided soul. Right? Have you been there? I have. It’s miserable.
And so my life radically changed and I ended up playing basketball around the world and sharing Christ. And then I went to graduate school because I thought the call on my life was to be a major college basketball coach so I needed to have a Masters degree so I wanted Bobby Knight’s job, if you remember that name. I would not throw chairs.
But when I got there, the intellectual blowback on my faith was so strong, I decided to write my thesis on the philosophical basis for teaching ethics in sport. In other words, is there an absolute? Is there a right? That’s what ethics is. Is there a right? Is there a wrong?
And so I won’t bore you all but the first couple chapters of this book, for those that like philosophy and that world, I decided, If I have to throw my brains in the trash to follow Jesus, it must not be true. And so I am going to go after this. And thanks to Francis Schaeffer and some other apologists, I did a very long study and wrote my thesis on this. And what I learned is that: revelation was always king - it’s what God said. But reason becomes: what we think, is more important than what God says.
And then by the mid to late eighteen hundreds, you had Nietzsche and German philosophers changing this idea of absolute truth. And then it made it over the big pond to America and you had Huxley over here and you had Spencer. Darwinism was not taken seriously early on, especially scientifically, but it was interesting in social sciences.
And Albert Einstein was talking a theory of relativity that was about factual matter. But the idea of relativity, the social sciences, evolution gained. So by the twenties and thirties, it made it into the major seminaries of the day: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, William and Mary. All of those places, do you believe it? They were theological institutions.
In the sciences, you studied all the sciences, the queen of sciences was theology! And then it made it into the everyday life. So you had a split of the churches that believed the Bible and then didn’t believe the Bible.
And unfortunately, those who believed the Bible got segmented out of the reality of life and were so pounding on the truth and did it in such a way they would be called “Fundamentals of the truth,” and they would be called “Fundamentalists,” and pretty soon, people are thinking, I don’t know what it’s like to be a Christian but if you’re that mad about that stuff, I don’t want that.
Pluralism is, is every opinion or every view holds exactly equal power. There is no absolute, no one can tell anyone this is right and this is wrong.
Let me give you an illustration. Let’s pretend, it’s hypothetical, because it may not be true. Hypothetically, let’s believe this is a black stool. Just hypothetically. It’s a black stool. It’s always been a black stool. If I believe it’s a black stool, someone has the audacity to say, “It’s a black stool; people sit on it.”
But, a brother right here with the striped shirt goes, “That is a blue door. That’s a blue door!” “Why?” “I feel like it’s a blue door. My friends think it’s a blue door. We are into blue doors.”
And, let’s see, a lady. The lady in pink. I love this pink, the lady in the pink goes, “You know what? It is a red window. I mean, it’s just a red window.” And so in our culture, the answer is: Stop! You’re both right. Seriously!
Baha’i, Muslim, Jew, Christianity; living together, homosexuality, abortion. Stop! Everyone has the right to their own opinion and their own view on everything and your opinion is valid. There is only one opinion that is not valid. Someone who has the audacity to say, “For four thousand years it has been a black stool. If you test it, people sit on it. I believe with all my heart, regardless of what anybody thinks, this is a black stool.” And our culture says, “Well, you are an intolerant, narrow-minded, anti-intellectual.”
Now, so what you need to understand is the issues of sexual immorality, the issues of politics, the issues of the environment really are symptoms of a shift in truth. And they have seeped in, okay? I don’t want you sitting here and thinking, Well, gosh, boy, I’m a blue door, red window person. I don’t know how, you know? It’s the culture, it’s the education.
So now, Christians, instead of, “It’s a black stool,” it’s “I believe the Bible is God’s Word. I believe that we are to be light and salt and loving. We are to be light and salt and loving to people who are living together, people who are radical environmentalists, to people who are involved in the homosexual lifestyle, to people who are cheating the people who are loving, because Jesus loves them. But I have to tell you, it would be unloving to do anything less than tell you: He is the Savior of the world and how He says life should happen, and how relationships should happen, and how cities and communities should live and how we should take care of the earth, it’s absolutely true whether you believe it or not.”
But we are still not there because even if we can agree there is an absolute truth, here’s the big question: who gets to say what’s true? Right? Most other world religions believe in an absolute truth. So who says what is true? And on what basis?
In other words, what we have now, and this is us, this isn’t anybody out there. This is us, inside the Church, going, Yeah, I understand the Ten Commandments, no idols. And I understand what Jesus said. I understand what Paul said about sexuality, about immorality, about same-sex relationships. But I don’t, I just don’t really think that’s for today. Because we really love each other. But I love Jesus. I love to come to church. That one song, you know? I love that. That one really gets me. And I want to be a nice person.
And so we have this dichotomy where we can actually, as Bible-believing, loving followers of Jesus - we have now grown so accustomed to [looking through tinted] glasses, that thirty-five percent of the people that are young say, We’re living together but I love Jesus. And I believe the Bible, but the Bible for me is a lot like a salad bar. I like that, I like that, and I like that. Okay? I don’t mean that facetiously. And there is this dichotomy.
But here is what I want you to hear. Here is the compassion of God. People always laugh when I say, “I don’t believe in gravity!” And you step off three stories and we all go, “Ha, ha, ha!” Right? Because what do you know? What is going to happen? There is a big fall.
But if you, literally, can you imagine if you stepped off of three stories, you might live but you’ll probably have a couple broken legs, internal injuries. Now, listen carefully. You don’t have to believe that life is the most precious thing, but if you’re sitting in here today and you have had an abortion like many of my friends, or you urged a woman to have an abortion, you understand what the loss and the pain is like. You understand what post-abortive depression can be like. You have been forgiven and Jesus loves you, but some of you can’t have kids now.
Some of you have been through pain that you, and you know what? You didn’t know anything, it was unintended, many of you weren’t even Christians. And yet, you know what? You don’t have to believe, but the consequences are the same.
And we don’t have to believe that marriage is just between a man and a woman and here’s the design. But sexual immorality, and whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual, whether it’s liars and adulterers and fornicators or others, when we have done those things, the consequences are the same. You feel ripped apart. You feel shame. You feel hurt. You have a kid living in this house and another kid living in this house.
Half of all the women who go through a divorce live below the poverty level. God’s heart and design, when He says, “Thus says the Lord, this is true.” Jesus, remember His last prayer? “Oh, Father, glorify Your Son now. Just like the glory I had before the foundations of the earth. I pray not only for these disciples but for them who will believe through them. Now, Father, I pray that they might be one, even as We are one. Now, sanctify them. Set them apart. Make them holy.” How? “By Your Word, Your Word is truth.”
The apostle Paul would say, “All Scripture is given,” literally, “breathed by God and is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness; that the man or the woman of God might be fully equipped to live out this new life.”
God’s Word, the issue in our day is not the symptoms. The issue is even beyond truth. The issue for you and for me is: Is this the final authority? And “light” means that I live my life, whether I feel like it or not, this is the final authority about how we guard our environment and model that. This is the final authority about abortion. Even if we are ones that have been washed, who have had abortions.
This is the final authority when, out of love, when our young people going through puberty, twenty-five percent of all young boys have some level of same-sex attraction. It doesn’t mean they are homosexual. But in most churches that believe the Bible, you say that you have an issue like that, there is no safe place. We have got to have the compassion and the love and the light and then at the end of the day, this is the final authority.
Here’s what I know, hear my heart, hear Jesus’ heart: there is a significant percentage in this room, you’re sitting here, you’re living with someone or you’re having casual sex, or you’re in the lifestyle. Or, even the conviction, you feel like, you only log on now and then.
Or some of you are having an affair or you’re really discouraged with what is happening because there are different seasons of marriage that are really hard and you’re kind of just flirting right now but you can feel, right?
We’re human! The question is: what do we do? How do we be the salt and be the light and not have these compartmental lives? In Paul’s day, they lived with the same thing. In fact, it was far more sexually immoral even than in our day.
The average man, especially an aristocrat, remember, Rome has the rule but the Greeks have the culture. So if you were a Roman citizen, you have a wife and she is for lineage. In other words, she gives you sons. If you’re a Roman man, you have, they had a rule in Rome and they would bring children before you when they were born, if there was a defect, you went like this. Or often, it was a girl, you went like that and they would take them to the dump.
And Christians changed the world because they would get on the dump and then they would pick them up and love them and raise them, much like you all are doing with foster care in this area.
See, the way you bring light is you make a difference. But he would have a woman like that for his marriage. She wouldn’t even eat in the same room. There would be a young gal, usually, who was a slave. He could have sex with her whenever. And then he would go and maybe in Ephesus, the Temple of Diana, and there would be all kinds of worship, but almost all the worship had sexual immorality as part of the worship. And you could get heterosexual or homosexual, just depending on what you felt like that day.
Into that world, the apostle Paul is speaking and saying, “You’re the light of the world, you’re the salt of the earth, you have been washed, you have been sanctified, you have been changed. Here is the new way to live.” And it was hard! In fact, he’s speaking to them and he says to them, in the context of this passage, “We have some guy who is shacking up with his dad’s wife.” That pushes the boundaries even for the secular people!
And so he is instructing them about how we have to live purely. So open your Bibles to I Corinthians chapter 5. This is God’s Word for us to be salt and light when you live in a sexually saturated culture.
He says, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people.” So that’s that big, broad word. Fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals. “Not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy or swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.”
In other words, you know what he’s saying? You don’t have to criticize the people in Hollywood or the people in the city council. You don’t have to be negative. That’s not my job or your job to judge people outside of the Bible believing Church and say, “They are terrible and they are doing this.” He says, “We don’t judge them.”
In fact, that’s the issue when Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” We don’t judge the outside world. But notice what he goes on to say. He says, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or a sister but is sexually immoral or greedy or an idolater, a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people.”
So he says, “Not on the outside but those that claim to be brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m writing to you not to associate with those who habitually live a lifestyle that is contrary to the truth and the truth of God’s Word, and yet call themselves brothers and sisters.”
He goes on to say, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the Church?” Grammatically, he makes it clear: none. “Are you not to judge those inside the Church?” Grammatically: absolutely. “God will judge those outside the Church.” Then notice the application, “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
One of the greatest myths that has happened in the culture and then in the Church is this idea that we are not to judge one another. You are called to judge one another. But the word judge is not judgmentalism - loving, caring accountability.
You see a friend that is veering off, morally; you see someone treating their mate a different way; or I met a lady two nights ago who, she has a friend that was having an adulterous affair and she literally just said, “Hey, I’m concerned about you.” And just started to talk about it, “Who are you to judge me? You have sinned before!”
See, that’s the attitude that is happening in the Church. And so most of us are either fearful or silent and we don’t hold each other accountable. In fact, this whole passage is the apostle Paul teaching the Church, “When people habitually are living in ways that are contrary to the truth in Scripture,” he would go on to say, “You’re going to judge angels; can’t you judge each other?”
But the judgment isn’t a condemnation. It’s a confrontation, it’s an accountability, it’s Matthew 18. It’s you see someone you really love - because what is going to happen? Death, destruction, pain, divorce, separation, disease, hurt - it’s because you care.
And so you go them, Matthew 18, “Hey, brother. Hey, sister. You know, I’m seeing this. I’m really concerned about you. Let’s talk about what is going on.” They won’t listen. You bring another person that loves and cares. They won’t listen. Well, then, you take it to the church leadership and you say, “You know, this…”
And, see, that has not happened for about two decades in most Bible believing churches. And so over time the leaven has multiplied and churches are filled with people with unbiblical divorces, our churches are filled with people who are living together, our churches are filled with people who are living in the homosexual lifestyle.
And you know what? You can say, “Well, I love the worship and I believe in this, but, you know, who,” (the [tinted] glasses), “who is anyone to tell me what to do?” And Jesus would say, “I am.”
And the Bible would say, “Here’s the absolute.” But listen to why. God sets boundaries for your good. Outside of His boundaries, even the Ten Commandments. I remember teaching that series and I reframed it: God’s Boundaries for Abundant Living. “No good thing will God withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
When God gives us commandments, behind every commandment is a heart of compassion, and wisdom, and knowledge. Basically, the wisdom of God, the word, Hebrew wisdom isn’t intellectual. Hebrew wisdom is understanding the pathway by which to live to get the highest and the best from God.
And so He says, “Here’s how you should do relationships. Here’s the plan for money. Here’s the plan for conversation. Here’s how you do leadership. Here’s how you raise your kids.” It’s the wisdom of God so that you receive the very best from God. He loves you.
And so when we say to God, “I don’t want to do life Your way,” we, in essence, are saying, “I know more than God. I’ll be the judge. I’ll say what goes.” And our culture is reinforcing it.
But what happens if we are not salt and we’re not light? What happens to us? What happens to our relationships? What happens to the message of Jesus?
He goes on to say, in chapter 6, skip down to verse 9, he says, “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither sexually immoral or idolaters or adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers or swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by His Spirit.”
When I taught on homosexuality, I still remember walking out before the service and there was a guy on the edge and he said, “Hey, this is going to be interesting.” And I said, “Why do you say that?” He said, “Well, your notes say, ‘What do you say to a gay friend?’ And I’m gay and I’m his friend and he asked me to come, so I came!”
And he stood up and we talked for a little while and because where I was in Santa Cruz, we had just lots of people in the gay lifestyle and became friends and learned and I said, “Well, would you do me a favor?” He said, “Well, I guess.” “When I get done,” and he didn’t know we were filming it for small group, I said, “When I get done, I’m going to teach it twice tomorrow. You’ll listen like few people. Would you come up and give me an honest, brutal critique whether I am fair to the homosexual position? Because I quote literature and I want them really to, and even body language. Would you?” He goes, “Okay.”
So here’s the message, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Okay, I get done, come back down, and I’m thinking, and here he comes. And I literally, I remember, I pulled out my pen, got my little pad, I said, “Okay, shoot it straight. I mean, I really want to hear.”
He said, “Well, man, overall, I think really pretty good.” He goes, “How you started, like, blew me away.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Well, you said that those of us in the lifestyle, often, we hear about Christians in general. And then you apologized to the gay and lesbian community.”
He goes, “I’ve never heard you guys do that stuff.”
And then he said, “There are people over here, they call themselves Christians and they hold up signs and they scream at us and they yell bad names and we’re going to hell and they seem really angry and some of them are violent, and we are afraid of them. And you said, ‘They are nothing like Jesus. They are all truth and no love.’”
But he said, “There are other people that you said they call themselves Christians and they say that we can keep living the way we are and this is sort of God’s design and their pastors are homosexuals too and you said, ‘They are all love but not truth.’”
And then, this is, I’m right in the Bay Area, right in the middle of the Silicone Valley. And he said, “When you quoted that statistic that the average lifespan of a male homosexual in the Bay Area is age forty-three, and then you said, ‘How could it be loving to know what is killing a person and not tell them? That lifestyle and behavior a death-style and I care about you.’”
Not some higher, better-than [attitude], but with tears in your eyes. If I knew someone had cancer and I knew what was causing it and I said, “Well, I want to be loving so they’re just going to die.” And he said, “When you said that, I just realized Jesus really brings light, not heat.”
I had a similar friend because some of you are thinking, You know what? I kind of want to forget that passage about, ‘Don’t associate with,’ right? Because in your mind, like, after each service I have talked to people and it’s like, “You know, my daughter is in a lesbian relationship and this is where we’re at.”
Or, “I have one of my best friends and if I say something to my best friend like what you said, we may not be best friends anymore.” Here’s what I want you to hear: I get it.
Let me give you three takeaways as we move ahead.
Takeaway number one is: Get educated. Okay? You have got to understand the issues, articulate them, know what’s going on. You, your friends, you family, your small group.
Second: Model a biblical lifestyle. This is going to be one of the greatest days of some of your lives. When I said that some of you are living together, some of you are in the lifestyle, your body language, people are great. They go, Oh, yeah! I’m one of those. Literally, that’s what… all over the room - but that was like the early Church.
And today, you’re going to get a chance to be clean, to repent, to own it, to say:
God, it’s not what I believe or what I feel. I’m going to live for life. I’m going to be salt, I’m going to be light, I’m going to come and I’m going to receive forgiveness, I’m going to get a new start. And what I know is there are former fornicators and homosexuals and liars and drunks and swindlers and idolaters in this church and they have been washed, they have been sanctified. And I am going to come clean and get forgiveness, and they are going to help me. And I am going to have a brand new life and it may be hard but You will give me life and forgiveness and change and Your bride will get pure. And You will use my life like never before.