Two Kingdoms

I find myself increasingly torn over the political issues that have plagued us lately.  Suddenly, it’s wrong to believe a certain way in our nation, which has freedom of religion written into its foundational documents.  In many cases, it’s considered “politically incorrect” to hold a Christian worldview.  The hypocrisy of the “PC” movement so painfully evident that I am simply baffled that more people don’t see it.  But I digress.  My purpose in writing is not political.  At least, not in the manner in which you are probably thinking.  Now if you consider the relationship between two kingdoms, or conflicting sets of ideologies, or citizens of one nation residing in another nation, then perhaps this is a political post after all.

To begin, I would like to take a moment to address the overwhelming plague of Biblical illiteracy in the Western Church.  Those of you who say something is “okay” when the Bible clearly says that it is not, shame on you.  Those of you who pick and choose what verses of the Bible you like and disregard the rest, shame on you.  Those of you who take passages of the Bible out of context to fit into your own preconceived idea of what you think God is or should be, shame on you.  God is who He reveals Himself to be.  You don’t need to interpret what He is from the Bible.  And let me tell you, the Bible probably doesn’t fit into your political agendas as neat as you would like to think it does.  The prime example, and probably the most abused subject in the Bible, is the issue of judgment.  Non-believers and watered down Christians scream and shout that it is wrong to judge and that our own Bible tells us not to.  Wrong!  It does, in fact, tell us to judge.  It merely instructs us on how we should judge.  For instance, the non-believer is condemned already (John 3:18).  This means, for these individuals, that no further judgment is necessary.  Their specific sins are of no matter to us, whose only mission at this point is to spread the Gospel.  Now regarding those who call themselves Christians that knowingly live in sin, this is another matter of judgment entirely.  And our judgement on them is tougher.  Iron sharpens iron.  All I am stressing here is know what it is that you say you believe.  Read your Bible.  Flee from false doctrines, especially those that are easily identified by a basic understanding of the Bible.  In this day in age, where so many resources are literally at our fingertips, you have no excuse.

With this in mind, how do we interact with a world that greets us with a scorn that increases day-by-day?  I believe that this, in part, is our own faults.  As a society that was based on Christian ideals, we have compromised over and over again.  Now many people are living however they like, contrary to how the Bible says we should live.  What ever shall we do?  Actually, I have a more appropriate question.  Why should we expect nonbelievers to live their lives according to the Bible?  Is it really that surprising and shocking that people who have shunned the Bible do not care what we have to say about how they should be living?  Think about this a moment.  Take as long as you need.  We attack their choices in life whether it be drug habits, sex life, alcohol abuse, use of language, etc.  Fill in the blank with whatever doesn’t agree with you.  But therein lies our mistakes.  This is where we as Christians falter and fail.  This is where we push them away.  Ladies and gentlemen, the problem does not lie with their life choices.  The problem lies with their world view which acts as the foundation in which they have built all of their ideals on.  You cannot merely trim the limbs of a tree and expect it to fall.  You cannot hurl rocks at the towers of a castle and expect to breach the walls.  You have to cut the tree at the trunk and sever it from its roots.  Crack the foundation of the castle and it will crumble.  You must understand that there are two kingdoms in coexistence.  The Christians are of one Kingdom, and the nonbelievers are of an entirely different kingdom.  How can we in our right minds expect members of one kingdom to follow the commandments and ideals of another opposing kingdom?  The simple answer is that we can’t.  As much as I love my nation, the United States of America, it is not of the Kingdom of God.  So why should I expect it to pass and enforce laws based solely on Biblical principals?  While I admit that I would love to see that, it is simply illogical to expect it.  Before you can expect others to follow Biblical principals, they must first leave their kingdom and become a citizens of God’s Kingdom.  Allegiance must change before a lifestyle will change.  And for those that say that their allegiance has changed yet their lifestyle has not, well, the proof is in the pudding as they say.

I’m sure that everyone has seen those “coexist” bumper stickers.  Then there are those that scream and shout for unity.  It all sounds like common sense on the surface.  It sounds like a great idea.  Why should we not pursue such an idea?  Lets delve deeper into the issue and find out.  While I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of coexistence, this idea does not seem to hold the same meaning for some.  The fact that we all exist and live amongst each other already shows that we coexist.  True, there are some that don’t want to coexist, but my point here is not to single those groups out.  We’ll leave that others to do, since there are already so many that point their fingers so well.  We can all live peacefully together, and yet not agree on all things.  We can all live amongst each other, and at the same time refuse to approve of each other’s life choices.  Because to believe that every singe person in our vastly growing population will agree on everything and accept each others life decisions is complete and utter foolishness.  It will never happen.  Where’s the math majors?  What are the odds of that happening?  But we can go about are lives and treat each other like human beings, practicing courtesy and common respect.  This idea I am all for.  Where do I sign up?  As for unity, where is there unity for the Christian?  It should be in the Body of Christ.  What does that mean?  It means that, while we live amongst the world, we will never have unity with it.  It is impossible to do so as a Christian.  Read Matthew Chapter 10.  Christ Himself said that he brings division.  Think about it.  We as believers are called out from the world.  We are called to be lamps in the darkness, a city on a hill, the salt of the Earth.  We are not a part of the darkness.  The separation of light and dark is one of the most clearly defined divisions.  Christians are called to walk with Christ.  We are called out from the nations to be a people set apart for Him, even to the point of pursuing holiness before happiness.  In fact, the word “holy” in Greek (hagios) literally means different and set apart?  This implies that for the Christian, there can be no unity with the world, as it means to those who are calling for it.  We may walk the streets of one kingdom, but we are citizens of a different Kingdom.  We are here temporarily.  While we’re here, we simply invite as many as we can to join us in our Kingdom.

While we’re in this world, this other kingdom, we have a mission.  The Great Commission.  While I’ll humbly admit, I don’t always work towards the Great Commission.  I do understand the importance of it.  I also understand what it is like to feel discouraged, when our society grows more and more hostile towards proselytizing.  Let’s take a look at the examples we have in the Bible.  Enoch preached for hundreds of years before being taken up.  Noah preached the whole time he built the ark prior to the flood.  Yet only his family believed.  God Himself, in the form of Jesus Christ, preached for several years prior to His crucifixion.  Yet people still did not believe.  So the Biblical patriarchs preached with little conversions.  And God Himself preached to the crowds, and was crucified by His own “priests.”  What does that say about us when we witness to others with little success?  So do not be dismayed.  First you must define success.  We are not able to convict the heart of another.  Many will not accept the Lord, and that is heart-breaking.  So we cannot define success by an action that is not within our ability.  So what is it?  The answer is spreading the Gospel.  That is what we are called to do.  So in doing so, we succeed in fulfilling the scope of our mission.  The Holy Spirit convicts the heart.  The Holy Spirit makes the “plant” grow.  We are to merely cast the seeds.  Humble yourselves, embrace your inadequacies, and then leave the Holy Spirit to do His work.

Keep these things in mind.  Do not be a part of this growing apostasy and Biblical illiteracy.  Know what you believe.  Read your Bible.  Do not expect someone to change their lifestyle without first addressing the foundation of their worldview.  Do not expect them to live by Biblical principals when they are nonbelievers.  Seek out proper coexistence, but never compromise where your faith is concerned.  Always remember that you are a people set apart from the world as followers of Christ.  Do not forsake Him, because He did not forsake you on the cross.

 

Ever Onward, Brothers and Sisters

-JCH

 

In Times Such As These

There are those of us that look at the world these days and lament for how far bad things are. We talk of how corrupt the government has become. We speak of how the world is becoming more and more hostile towards Christian ideals, of how far the morals of society has fallen. We talk of how the world groans for the return of Jesus. We pray and shout, “Come now, Jesus!” We wish to be saved form the wicked world, and to leave it to the prideful and arrogant non-believers. What a time we should be living that the world seems to be turning on those with a Biblical world view!

However, I think we should consider a different view. I still say that the Christians in the West are still blessed. The Christians in the East are martyred daily. They are persecuted for their faith. And in the midst of their suffering they praise God and they weep for joy because they are considered worthy to suffer for Christ. If only we in the West, who have no such barriers to hinder us, were to act with the same passion as our brothers and sisters in the East. In stead, we squabble over minor things. We let the divisions of the Church define our faith. We should let the Bible define our faith, and stop putting so much emphasis on our labels. We shouldn’t just be Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and so one. We should remember that we are one with Christ and all a part of the same body.

I, like many others, do not like the way things are becoming in the U.S. More and more, we are seeing where a person is told they must set aside their personal beliefs when they are in conflict with the PC standards. It is unfortunate that Christianity is looked so negatively. Yet we should not be surprised by these things. We are told by Jesus Christ that the world would hate us, because they first hated Him. The Bible tells us that things will get worse before the return of Jesus. Should we hunker down and hide ourselves from the world and pray that He hasten His return? I say no!

While an ideal society that looks kindly to Biblical ideals would be nice, we as Christians over time have squandered such a blessing. I believe the Church in the U.S. as a whole became lackadaisical over the many years we thought we were a Christian nation. Now society is continually turning away from Christianity. I heard it put this way once; we don’t need to live in Mayberry to be Christians. While it would be nice, that’s just not the case. However, we can still be Christians if we lived in pagan Rome. That’s just what the early Church had to do, and it thrived.

What are we to do in such times? I say we take advantage of our current blessings. We think of ourselves as living in ever-darkening times. I say, what better place and time is there for Christians to be? We are to be the light of the world and the salt of the Earth. It is a privilege to be a Christian in such darkening times. What and opportunity we have to reach the lost! The lost, the non-believer, those with hostile attitudes to Christianity, they are all around us. That simplifies things! Now we can witness in any “direction” and the Word will be heard! I consider it a privilege to be a Christian in the here and now. In times such as this, I wish I had even half the boldness of Paul. In times such as this we need to pray to Jesus that the world needs Him to return, that all of creation groans for it; but please wait just a little longer. Perhaps one more day, or more if You will it, lest another soul can be saved in the precious time given.

Consider these things. Ponder over what it means to live in such times as a Christian. Look at your sphere of influence in this ever-darkening world. How can you serve God in such times and witness to others?

I leave you to your thoughts.  God bless.

-JCH