“At some point you’re going to have to put some points on the board.” I don’t remember what teams we were discussing or what game we were analyzing, but those words once uttered by my dad in reference to sports have quite a bit of relevance for the church today. Continuing the point made in my “What I hate about blogging” article, most Christians today have taken a completely defensive stance when it comes to addressing the sins going on around us. It seems that we can get caught just waiting for something bad to happen or for someone to say the wrong thing. Then, we circle the wagons and confirm what we all already believe, then pat each other on the back for sticking to that. While it’s our task to uphold the truth, if we aren’t convincing any outsiders and we’re only reaching people who already believe like us without motivating each other to grow, we aren’t accomplishing anything. And, because of this, Christians are typically known for what we’re against far more often than what we’re for.
We like to think of ourselves as victims of a non-stop onslaught created by the culture, helpless to do nothing more than just hope we can hold our ground. But, “at some point we’re going to have to put some points on the board.” Instead of sharing an article because “somebody I know needs to read this,” as so often seems to be the motivation behind why we pass on the information that we do, it’s time we look at ourselves and make the necessary changes. Instead of building our walls and hiding behind them and hoping somebody on the outside sees the truth in what we’re doing out of their own curiosity, it’s time we stop hiding and go on offense.
Aside from the fact that we’re supposed to be the salt and light of the world (part 2 of this 3 part article series will touch on that tomorrow) and completely passing over the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, there are a number of reasons we shouldn’t simply be defensive with our faith. The one I want to focus on in this article is the idea that Christians aren’t called to be against anything: we are called to be for Jesus Christ. Yes, standing for Jesus will force us to stand against certain things and will place us in opposition to the world (John 15), but it will also keep us from being hypocritical (the unfortunate result of our defensiveness, as pointed out in the first article). How? Consider a few ways this hypocrisy is manifested.
- We talk about why we’re against homosexuality, but that doesn’t always mean we’re FOR biblical marriage. Yes, we’re in favor of one man, one woman for life, but it goes so far beyond that. Sure, we do a great job of holding the line on homosexuality, but as we play defense against a sin that the culture celebrates, many churches and individuals have become lax on premarital fornication/cohabitation, adultery, “no-fault” divorce, and other such issues. Even among churches that hold those lines of sexual purity, it’s not uncommon for an inordinate amount of attention to be placed on certain sins that don’t affect hardly any of our members while neglecting to teach, model, and expect the self-sacrificial love and service of Ephesians 5. We should be just as strongly against all sexual sin as we are homosexuality because we’re in favor of God’s definition of marriage, and we shouldn’t just settle for sexual purity. Marriage is so much more than a dos and don’ts list of sexual sins. Until we go on offense so we can get back to the point where God drew the line on marriage, we can be guilty of hypocrisy and simply playing defense against popular sins.
We’re against anti-Christian education such as Planned Parenthood sexual education courses, evolutionary teaching, and non-Christian religious curricula (such as Islamic or New Age courses) in schools… but that doesn’t mean we’re FOR Christian education. For too many years Christians have thought it to be an acceptable tradeoff where we allow schools to remove God from the books and activities as long as they stayed “religiously neutral.” Now, as soon as we get news of schools bringing in anti-God material, we take a stand – again just playing defense rather than offense. First, there’s no such thing as religiously neutral education, and second, that’s not the way God wants children to be brought up and taught (Deuteronomy 6:7-9, Proverbs 1:7, 22:6). We negotiated with the world and are now simply trying to hold up our wall of defense. I could say more about this, but I’d need a lot more space – like 150 pages or so. (Sorry, shameless plug 🙂 )
We’re against instrumental music in worship, but that doesn’t mean we’re FOR proper worship of God. How many times have we heard sermons on Ephesians 5:18-21 and Colossians 3:14-17 that tell us why that means we should sing instead of using instruments (a perfectly valid point implied by the texts), and how many times have we heard sermons on the need to come to worship filled with God’s Word, living lives full of His Spirit, ready to share our love for God and the brethren by pouring our hearts out in song (what those texts are actually teaching)? We don’t have worship right just because we’re not doing the wrong thing. Getting worship right is about doing the right thing in the right way. Instead, we go behind our wall of defense and ward off all pro-instrument attackers, completely forgetting what we’re supposed to be FOR when we come to worship each Sunday and go through the motions.
The list of doctrines or actions we’re against without being for anything in their place could be a lengthy one, and I’m sure you have some that are coming to mind. The purpose of this article isn’t to bash the church, but I do hope we’ll reconsider the way we address misunderstandings and misuses of God’s Word along with sin problems. We’re so eager to share that which points out the errors or room for improvement for those who don’t believe like us, but we should always direct that zeal for improvement and obedience towards ourselves first. Only being against certain ideas allows us to be lazy and requires nothing of us. It’s only when we’re for God’s Word that we feel called to action to reflect it in our own lives and to show the truth of it to others.
By Jack Wilkie