The Church Knows Better . . .

We’re a nation of wrestlers. Daily we contend with the greater issues of our humanity. How do we define gender and sexuality? How do we love our neighbors – those within and those without our borders? How can we protect our loved ones from violence and terrorists? Is it ever moral to take a life?

We hear a great raging river of voices – most are angry and shouting, others are fearful or alarmed, some speak reason but are quickly silenced, others are almost too meek to be heard – almost. And we, the followers of Jesus Christ who comprise the church, stand on the banks of this cultural Nile wondering how we will ever cross safely to the other side.

We know we’re called to engage in this conversation. We know we represent Jesus in this. We know for certain some of the voices are wrong, evil even. Other voices sound almost right but not quite. And some of those quieter voices would make a bigger sound if we just had the courage to add ours.

Still, we stand with both feet on the edge, fighting nostalgia for the time we didn’t know the truth so weren’t responsible to say it. We look at Jesus standing beside us and complain – did you save me from my sin only to have me torn apart by this angry mob? And Jesus says quietly, “Do you want to go back to Egypt or follow me? Because I’m stepping out into the fray.”

And, there’s no clear path in the waters, no straight line but there is Jesus. If we stand too long, wait until a paved road of dry land appears, we’ll lose sight of Him and risk everything for guarantees and assurances. Jesus is greater than Moses so He doesn’t have to part the waters of this great cultural current because He is the Living Water and He knows His way. If we keep His eyes on Him, we will not be swept along by the riptide.

But do keep your eyes on Him because there is great danger in these times. There are voices, like sirens, that try to drown out Jesus. Their song is like His, but it isn’t His.

One of the loudest counterfeit cries is the one for unity. We need to create unity. That’s a beautiful concept – to create a society where everyone is accepted and where everyone lives in agreement and peace. But apart from Christ, it’s a modern-day Tower of Babel.

Sure, just as Dr. Frankenstein can piece together a human being, so can humanity piece together something that resembles unity but only by compromising the soul of the thing. Jesus told us He didn’t come to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34) and He did promise unity but also showed us it can only be found in Him.

He has bestowed on the church the work of reconciliation and peace-making but He is the only One who knows how to do this without compromising truth or God’s design.

The church knows better than to believe that humanity rises simply through the power and will of our own humanity. We can certainly achieve a certain greatness apart from God but it is a fleeting and fallible mud brick tower just as likely to collapse from its own weight or to be gathering dust under the feet of the next generation as it is to save anyone’s soul.

The way of Jesus is the way of the cross. It’s not beautiful. It hurts. It requires us to surrender our claims to self-interest and sinful designs. It’s hard and often divides us from those who decline to take the same road. We can (and should and do) continue to encourage them to join us on our Way but for us to walk on theirs or to try to meet them half-way is for us to leave the only hope any of us has for true unity and peace.

We must keep our eyes on Jesus. Pay attention to His Word – know it, study it, and apply it as never before. Listen for and learn to hear His voice as we walk through these waters because He’s the only One who knows the way. He IS the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Encourage one another along the path with strong loving affirmations and urgent exhortations grounded in truth.

Don’t be taken in by a Frankenstein’s unity cooked up in someone’s experimental social science lab. It may look like peace but it’s just as likely to turn and take any life that frightens or threatens to disturb it. And it’s incapable of reproducing true life on its own.

Hold out for the unity that is ours only in Christ. It is life itself.

Read and heed the word of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:14-26 ESV

“I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

**You want to be effective in your faith. You want to slay giants. You’ll want to read this book. Jesus and the Beanstalk (Overcoming Your Giants and Living a Fruitful Life)

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