Dear Flock and Friends of Knollwood,
Since the writing of the last Branch newsletter, a whole lot has happened in our nation. Let me count the ways …
1) The Supreme Court heard cases regarding the legalization of homosexual marriage (decisions pending for June), with politicians en masse jumping on the bandwagon of acceptability. As the amendment voting of this past November has shone us, our culture as a whole as confirmed a radical shift, and if you disagree or oppose the redefining of marriage & sexuality, then you are not acceptable in public discourse.
2) The murder trial of abortion-clinician Kermit Gosnel, of whom staffers testify of his regularly killing infants after delivery and while struggling for air. The main story here is the lack of coverage by our major network news media. Why? Because this story undermines the systematic project of elevating individual preference over personhood and dignity of defenseless infants.
Why do I mention all this? I want us to see our cultural shifts from the biblical-theological perspective. The first phrases of the Creation Account in Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth … He said, “Let there be …’ and it was so … And God saw that it was good.” We are presented with a “God who is there” (as Francis Shaeffer used to say), who speaks and creates and is therefore a Sovereign and personal God. He is not a pantheistic
idea of which human and nature are all “one.” Nor is He a Deistic (or Islamic) impersonal and solitary Being who does not deal personally with Creation. He is the Triune, Personal Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer who is the standard of goodness and who sets the standard of goodness in the order of creation. He created human as personal / relational image-bears of Himself, with dignity and relationship. He instituted the goodness of labor, of the Sabbath rest. He instituted the goodness of male/female, of personal intimacy of marriage (which includes sexuality).
In other words, the very idea of personhood, of love, of marriage points us away from creation and towards our Creator. The systematic attack of these definitions (of which abortion, alternative sexualities, the sanctity & health of marriage) are not mere social issues but theological issues and therefore worship issues.
The essence of idolatry or “pagan” worldview is succinctly spelled out by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:21, “Although they [humanity] knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him … Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images … they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” The essence of idolatry is to exchange the truth of God’s definitions for the lie of our own definitions.
So how do Christians respond to all this?
Loving Pursuit vs Fight or Flight:
Fighting will not likely do much. At this stage, the battle for what constitutes marriage has been lost and the church ought to rebuild by promoting healthy marriages within the church and holding people accountable to having marriage within the church reflect marriage between Christ and His church.
Engagement and Discipleship vs Retreat and Self-Preservation:
Retreating will not promote transformation. We all feel like retreating when it gets hard and frustrating. Jesus did not retreat but laid down the glories of heaven (He was perfectly happy in communion with the Father and the Spirit!) to come and chase after us, His enemies, to make us His brothers and sisters. He sends His Spirit who pursues us, bears with us, and unceasingly works to win us. This is the sort of ministry that He calls us to and this is the sort of loving pursuit that will win those who oppose us.
Nurture a Gospel-Centeredness, Biblical Worldview, and Active Pursuit of What Pleases the Lord in ourselves, our children, and our churches. This is exactly why we insist on our mission of “Christ, Worship, Community, Mission.” The great thing is that we have the promise of our risen conquering Christ: “See, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Grace and peace,