It is my firm conviction Christian values have been more prized than the Christian gospel since America’s inception. That is, many of us get more excited over seeing our favorite political candidate win an election than we do over God saving a sinner. That’s why, by the way, the phrase “God and country” is able to garner energy and support behind it. But what about the phrase “Christ and him crucified”, does that get as much energy and support? No.
What do I mean by Christian values? Monogamous marriage, the right to life, the nuclear family, the good of prayer and church attendance, a strong military, the American way of life. We fight tooth and nail to see these values take root in our country. This is what I mean by “Christianizing” culture. It’s the attempt made by many to see these “Christian” values come to be shared by as many people as possible in our nation. But there’s been an elephant in the room.
Christianity has been seen as the best way to get these values to take root in our country. We’ve used and abused Christianity to get our values embedded in the fabric of our society while we’ve completely missed Jesus and the gospel. The result? We have millions of people who have been deceived into thinking they're Christians because they hold to “Christian” values. Believing in monogamous marriage, the right to life and a strong military doesn’t make you a Christian.
The mission of the church is to lead with the gospel. The gospel must come first. Therefore, our energy is meant to be spent not trying to convert people to values, but to repent of their sin and turn in faith to Christ. After all, what does it profit a person to "convert" to the pro-life position, but lose one's soul?
We have to think about this one. It’s important. How we answer this question, may change a lot of other things for us. Would you be happy in heaven if Jesus wasn’t there?
If you could have heaven with no sickness, no injustice, with all your family and friends, with all the delicious food you could ever eat, with leisure activities galore, with natural beauties and physical pleasures to enjoy, could you be happy in heaven with all of this if Jesus wasn’t there?
Hmmmm…it’s a convicting question to ponder, is it not?
In addition to getting you to think about this question, I’ll offer one implication to contemplate as well. If the answer is ‘no’, you would not be happy in heaven if you had all of that, but no Jesus, then that changes the way we do evangelism and the goal of evangelism.
I can think of a lot of non-Christians who would love living a place without sickness, death, or injustice; who would love living in a place with delicious food, phenomenal leisure activities, natural beauties, and physical pleasures to enjoy. Who wouldn’t want to live in a place like that? But if evangelism isn’t about getting people to do whatever it takes to be able to enter a place like that, but rather evangelism is getting people to cherish Jesus above all those great gifts, how are you going to do that? What’s it going to take to help people cherish Jesus above Jesus’ gifts?
This is precisely why conversion is supernatural. I’m sorry, but unless God’s Spirit is sovereignly working in the life of a non-Christian, you are not going to convince them cherishing Jesus is more pleasurable than cherishing Jesus’ gifts.
If cherishing Jesus above Jesus’ gifts is the goal of evangelism, then that changes the way we do evangelism as well. Often, we tend to lead with "how great heaven will be" and we ask them, “don’t you want to be in a place like that?” But I wonder if that just puts the other person in the position of using Jesus to get something from him. If the goal of evangelism is getting lost people to cherish Jesus above Jesus’ gifts, then our evangelism tactic needs to begin with presenting Jesus to them first. Smuggling Jesus in under his gifts is not evangelism…it’s deception.
So back to my question: would you be happy in heaven if Jesus wasn’t there?
In order to be a competent ambassador for Christ while living as an exile and foreigner in the U.S., you need to possess and enact a biblical worldview. The building blocks of a biblical worldview begin with the overarching storyline of Scripture: creation, fall, redemption, restoration. All of life and every culture need to be viewed through the lens of creation, fall, redemption, restoration. When you learn to do this, you'll be able to see countless implications. Below is one implication regarding same-sex marriage.
Imagine being the disciples standing at the foot of the cross. Over the past three years you had seen Jesus walk on water, calm storms, raise dead people and heal multitudes. He looked unstoppable. He could snap his fingers and make the Roman empire go away. But now, his blood is puddling at the foot of the cross as the life is slowly drained out of him. This should never have happened. It’s so messed up. The irony of the cross is this: what looked like Satan’s victory, was actually his defeat. On the surface a cultural crisis may appear like a victory for the enemy, but the cross shows us it may actually be his defeat.
This is one reason why I remain hopeful in the aftermath of the same-sex marriage ruling. On the surface a cultural crisis may appear like a victory for the enemy, but the cross shows us it may actually be his defeat.
Could it be that the same-sex marriage ruling may look like a victory for the enemy, but instead actually be his defeat? I believe so. Let’s let Scripture explain how this is possible.
Remember the very famous scene in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3? Satan successfully convinces Adam and Eve that their lives were not as good as they could be. He plants this idea in their minds that if they eat from the one tree God tells them not to, their lives will become all they imagine they could be. Before you know it, Adam and Eve become discontent with how things are and long for something more. They begin saying to themselves, “If only we eat from that tree, then we can be happy and satisfied.” So they eat. And how did that turn out for them? They become worse than they were before. They got the one thing they thought they needed to be content and their lives become a nightmare.
It’s been the life-mission of many within the same-sex community to see same-sex marriage legalized. I would argue large numbers of them have looked to this as the defining moment of their lives. For years many of these individuals have probably thought, “If only same-sex marriage would be legalized, then my life would have meaning.” Well, they got what their hearts wanted most. Now what? Will their lives become all they imagined they could be?
If the Bible is correct, and, for the record, I do believe the Bible is correct, they are re-living the Garden of Eden all over again. Not only will their lives not become all they imagine they could be, but their lives will become worse than they were before. Some of them are going to come to realize this. So where will they turn?
Because we live with a biblical worldview that includes ‘redemption’ as a present reality, I believe Christians and churches need to be ready to receive with grace and truth the refugees of this sexual revolution. I believe there will come a day when a few of them will come to us empty and confused wondering why they're empty and confused. Christians and churches need to be ready for opportunities to present to these victims of deception the only thing that can truly satisfy: the gospel of Jesus Christ. What looked like a victory for the enemy, may actually be his defeat. In the end, the same-sex marriage ruling may actually send more lost people into the saving arms of Jesus where they will find the very thing same-sex marriage couldn’t give them.
The reason I have remained hopeful through these past couple of years has been due to the creation, fall, redemption, restoration storyline.