In the World, But Not Of the World
I love being Canadian and living in Canada. We live in a country that for a long time has truly been the TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE. For much of my lifetime, Judeo Christian values, although not lived fully, have been assumed and protected.
Lately it seems we are moving rapidly away from this as a nation.
SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) is invading our school system and seeking to normalize, and perhaps even encourage what has throughout our history been seen as worthy of being in the DSM (manual of mental disorders), and in the Bible, described as sin. Our children are being taught that what the Bible shows as something that will separate people from Him (1 Corinthians 6:9-20) is not only okay, but something that they should respect and emulate.
The Supreme Court ruled on the Trinity Western Law School and has decided that freedom of religion is not as important as what is perceived by the Ontario court of appeal as something, “deeply discriminatory to the LGBT community”. Some have said that this will yield open access for LGBT students (this was never a part of Trinity’s attempt to limit), but instead will mean those who hold what the Bible teaches about marriage and purity will not be able to train lawyers.
The Federal government changed their rules around which employers can qualify for funding to hire students through the Canada Summer Jobs program. Their idea was to ensure that any groups that are pro-life, or that believe what the Bible teaches about purity, and how this impacts LGBTQ, can’t get funding. This means that those who affirm what God’s Word teaches will not have access to government funding.
The list of changes could continue, and given their trajectory, will increase. So how are we to respond as those who love God and want to obey His Word, to what appears to be a rapid retreat by society away from God’s love and obedience to His Word, to an attack on Christian values?
Christians should be the best citizens any nation has, so we should actively pursue what we know to be God’s best (as revealed in His Word) in the ways that good citizens do. We should vote, petition, educate and pursue what we believe is best for our nation within the freedoms we have in Canada. This is good and right, BUT we are called to more, as followers of Christ. How should fully devoted followers of Jesus respond in a way that is uniquely Christian?
SADDENED: It is right to feel sad when people who need to recognize what sin is, so that they can join us in humility and repentance in faith in Jesus, are blinded by the world around them. It should break our hearts when authentic Christianity’s influence is limited by law and perhaps worse, when it is under direct attack. Our hearts should break not only for the general direction that our country is taking, but also for the hurt that this direction will cause to so many of the people who are encouraged to participate in sin and support it. We should mourn for those who are trapped in sin, and for those who are trapping them. God’s love should cause us, in humility, as fellow sinners, to weep.
SURPRISED: That we have had it this good for this long in our freedom to believe and obey the Bible. God’s Word teaches that if we want to live for Jesus, the world will not be our friend. Canada has at least had a foundational morality that was very friendly to those who claim to follow God’s Word. We should not be surprised that our world is moving in this direction, and we should understand from God’s Word that we are to be found IN the world, but not OF the world (John 17; James 4:4). We should not be surprised that the world is not the most comfortable place for true followers of Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12).
SHOCKED: That some who call themselves Christians are moving along the same path as the World and denying what God’s Word so clearly teaches on purity and exclusive devotion to Him. There are churches who for the sake of a few dollars, or acceptance, or cultural adjustments for what they think is evangelism, are adjusting what the Bible clearly teaches. When the church becomes like the world to reach the world, the church reaches the world for the world and not for God. As Christians we must realize that we are different (1 Peter 2:11-12), and in this difference stand firm. We must be those who hear and obey the Bible and show in our speaking the truth in love who God is, and what He wants (Ephesians 4:15-16).
STILL: As we reflect on what is going on around us, we should always be doing this in a way that realizes that God is Sovereign and Good, and worthy of our trust ALWAYS (Psalm 46:10). Whether we are reflecting on Joseph (Genesis 50:20), Job (Job 1:21-22; 2:10), or Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:28), we will see clearly that not only is God active in space-time history, He is Sovereign over space-time history. We can trust Him! No matter what is going on around us (Habakkuk 3:17-18; Psalm 46:3), He is STILL SOVEREIGN! The first answer we should have as those concerned about the direction of our nation is TRUST and PRAYER (1 Timothy 2:2).
SACRIFICIAL SERVICE: Christians are often tagged with the “judgemental” label. Sadly, those who name the name of Christ sometimes earn this. May we learn to weep with those who are struggling and be willing to give our ourselves to show people how great God and His Gospel is (Ephesians 5:1-2). We are to be known for our love (John 13:33-34). We live in a world filled with people who disagree with us, who need this love. We should ask ourselves in light of what Jesus has done for us (1 John 4:19) how we can love those who disagree with us His way (Romans 5:8). Our world is filled with broken people, and the farther away we get from God’s Word, the more brokenness we will face. We want to be known as those who are loved by God and overflow His love to others. We should do our very best as individuals to have an impact on our world as salt and light. In this, may we spend way more time looking for ways to self-sacrificially love those around us who are hurting and broken, then in pursuing political change.
STAND STEADY: Christians are called to be followers of Christ. To obey His Word no matter what the cost (Matthew 7:21-27) is the mandate of those who call Jesus Lord. If we are not doers of the Word we are failing in our faith (James 1:22). We are to be those who are Word saturated, and then follow Jesus as LORD by obeying His Word. On issues where culture is moving away from what God’s Word teaches we must STAND FIRM AND LET NOTHING MOVE US! Martin Luther was correct when he said:
“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” (Quoted in Parker T. Williamson, Standing Firm: Reclaiming Christian Faith in Times of Controversy [Springfield, PA: PLC Publications, 1996], p. 5.)
The Bible declares marriage as sacred, and Trinity Western is right to declare, “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman” is something that should be abstained from!
We must be those who seek to glorify God and thank Him, as those who live our lives for His glory (Romans 1:21).
SHOW: In a world moving rapidly away from Christ, the distinction of followers of Jesus should be, will be, clearer (1 Peter 2:11-12). This is an opportunity for us to show people how great God is, to display the beauty of forgiveness, the power of love, the richness of what Jesus has done for people like us and can do for those we are showing His Gospel to.
Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, and died in our place, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Our passion as those seeking to glorify God is to point people to Jesus (Matthew 11:11, 28:18-20), and this comes from humble hearts longing to show others the richness of forgiveness that we have experienced. Our mission is to make disciples, and to do this we want to be ready to give an answer to those who notice the hope we have in us (1 Peter 3:15).
We live in increasingly secular times, and yet maybe we are here for such a time as this (Esther 4:14). Actually, if we belong to Him we are here for this time, and He has good works for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).
Yes, the culture seems to be drifting and sadly, many in the church seem to be pulled along in the current. Yes, the pace at which the culture is moving away from Christ seems to be accelerating, and this can create discomfort in His followers.
May our God find us faithful, and on mission for Him in this country we call home. Oh that He would send a renewal to the church of “first love” devotion to Him, and as an overflow, we would see our reputation as being one of Holiness and Love.
The further Canada drifts away from God, the brighter authentic followers of Jesus will shine. May our God strengthen our resolve to live for His glory in love and loyalty to Him, and to His Word.