Bemoaning Inconsistency

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
(Colossians 3:2–3)

Sometimes it is really amazing – and desperately heartbreaking – how people will justify sin and ungodliness and see no contradiction with their Christian testimony.

I may have matured (or devolved, whichever your perspective) from being a “snarky Presbyterian pastor” to a full-fledged irascible and peevish grump – and that’s something that I guess I’ll have to deal with – but seriously folks there are just certain things that as Christians we should know better.

Here’s my list of grievances for the week:

  • Christians and 50 Shades – Folks, the book and the movie are straight-up porn, there’s no way around it. The book (and I’ll admit I haven’t read it, nor do I intend to) glamorizes an unhinged sexual lifestyle that includes bondage, domination, sadism, and masochism. I hear women claim that it can spice up the romance with their husbands – but I wonder, is that what they want from them? If that’s the case, do they let their husbands subscribe to Hustler?

Just today I read an argument for the moral  equivalency between 50 Shades and the Song of Solomon in Scripture. Are we seriously to compare the literary values of the Song of Solomon – the love song between a husband and a wife of exclusive passion, pleasure, and purity in one another – with the aggressive erotic exploits of unmarried and uncommitted individuals? It would be one thing to hear this kind of equivocation from someone hostile to the Christian faith, but this was coming from a professed believer.  Sigh!

By the way – that noise you are hearing is me banging my head on the desk.

  • Take Me to Church – I will readily admit that my iTunes music library could use a going over. There are some songs which, carrying over from my teenage years, are fun to listen to, but I don’t think I’d want my kids to come up to me and recite the lyrics.

That being said, there is a video circulating of a Presbyterian pastor doing a cover of Hozier’s song “Take Me to Church.”  Just looking at the title, you might ask, Well, what’s so wrong with that?  Then you read the lyrics:

My lover’s got humour
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshipped her sooner

My Church offers no absolutes
She tells me, ‘Worship in the bedroom.’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you—

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

I heard this song on the radio once and knew it was not something I needed to hear again.  For a Pastor to express his enthusiasm, and even do a cover of a song that supplants the worship of God with the worship of sex is just mind-boggling.  What’s next?  Shall we reopen the office of Temple Prostitutes?  I can grant someone might hum along with the tune – it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.  But once you’ve read the words, wouldn’t you think, especially as a pastor, that at some point you might stop and say, Maybe this isn’t consistent with the gospel that I’m preaching…  Then again, maybe it is.

  • Facebook Assassinations – I don’t really know how else to describe it.  It is sad when Christians go to social media (Facebook, Twitter) and openly berate, slander, and ridicule others. We mock and deride our president, our congressmen, or teachers or school administrators, our brothers and sisters in Christ without any thought or regard to how our words kill and destroy. “Christians” have launched campaigns to impugn and destroy the reputation of others, never knowing or attempting to understand all the facts, or to work toward reconciliation and restoration. It is an assassination attempt, for Jesus said, “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother is liable to judgment.”

To paraphrase Darth Vader, “I find your lack of consistency disturbing.”

VaderAs Christians, we have by definition died to sin, and are alive in Christ.  We are, therefore, called to set our minds on things above, to set our minds on Christ.  The movies we watch, the songs we listen to, the way we speak to and treat one another – these are to be influenced by the fact that our lives are hidden in Christ.  We live because he lives in us. That’s not to say that the only book we can read is the Bible, but we should ensure that what we read uplifts and encourages our walk with Christ.  We don’t have to listen only to hymns and spiritual songs, but we must discern whether the music that we’re listening to is glorifying to God and promoting holiness?  To live consistent with our faith does not mean that we cannot be critical of those in authority over us, but it does mean that we will be prayerful, respectful, and ultimately, that we will “seek to outdo one another showing honor.”

If you know that your life is hidden in Christ, then you will set your mind on the things of Christ, and not on the things of this world.  The truth of your life in Christ will radically transform everything else you do.

So I guess I’ll end with, of all things, a quote from the Presbyterian Book of Order, which states:

That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness, according to our Savior’s rule, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man’s opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise, it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.

You’re Doing It Wrong

“You are the light of the world…”
(Matthew 5:14) 

This weekend I posted a comment on Facebook that has been rattling around in my head ever since.  My daughter was watching a YouTube video called, “The Problem with Christian Bands” (go ahead, click the link, it’s worth watching, or just scroll down to the end of this post to watch it).  At about the 2:13 mark in the video the young man says, “If you’re a Christian and I spend the whole day with you and can’t tell that you’re a Christian or not, you’re doing it wrong… Even if I’m completely oblivious I should notice some kind of difference.”

I don’t think this means that you should go around telling everyone “I’m a Christian, I’m a Christian” but the fact that you are a believer in a risen Savior should make a difference in how you relate to the world.

Look at it this way:

When the words of the world would toss you about on the waves of trouble, are you able are you able to stand firm in the Word of God because you have read the Scriptures daily?

When the way of the world is stress and anxiety over what has happened and what may happen next, a desperate grabbing for security and provision, are you able to rest in the fact that you have laid your cares before the throne of God and walk confidently in the knowledge that He will provide and see to every need?

When the world would tell you that we are only here by chance and there is no greater purpose in life, are you able to face each day with purpose and joy knowing that God has created you for this particular time and place, and has called you to find joy in glorifying Him?

When the world would have you believe that you are the product of your genetic coding and predisposed by the conditions of your upbringing, do you rejoice in the Savior who has broken the power of sin, the Sprit who brings new life, and a Heavenly Father who has called you to be His own from before the beginning of time?

When the world would tell you that nothing in life is ever free and you have to look out for yourself, do you rest in the grace of God in Jesus Christ and in thanksgiving and praise place others before yourself and look for every opportunity to give of yourself in love?

When the world celebrates “self” and tells you to promote yourself, to improve your image, to achieve and make yourself stand out for “one shining moment,” are you content in the assurance that God has called you His child, and only too happy to point to the goodness, the righteousness, the love, the supremacy of Christ our Savior?

This isn’t an “in your face,” obnoxious kind of Christianity – but rather a faith that permeates a room like a bouquet of fragrant flowers.  Jesus said “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden… Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

You can’t hide the fact that you are a Christian and still be a Christian.  You can’t receive the joy of the Lord then cover it up so as not to offend or repel your friends (as if true and pure joy could ever be offensive or repulsive).  Living by faith the Christian life should look different from living according to the way of the world, even if that way is by all appearances noble and good.

Friends, do those around you know you are a child of God, a follower of Christ?  Do you bring the light of faith, the radiance of joy, the glow of peace into a world darkened by sin and despair?  Don’t hide your light – that’s doing it wrong – but let it shine for all to see.