Going forward there are some beliefs and convictions which Christians must not change, some practices and attitudes which we would do well to adjust and some principles we need to be reminded of if we intend to maintain our faith in Christ and serve as Light where the sun seems to be setting rapidly.
- The local Church has the authority to discipline its own members according to the revelation of Scripture.
- Believers who live inconsistently with the Scriptures should be confronted and the obstinate should be shunned.
- Unbelievers are not under the church’s authority and should not be shunned.
If we follow his pattern our response within the church will look differently than our response to the world.
- Within our own gates the church has a mandate from her founder to be faithful to righteousness taught in the Scriptures as well as correct and discipline it’s members. Let the Gospel standards and Lifestyle be:
- Clearly taught in our preaching. Galatians 5:16-21; Ephesians 4:17-5:15; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Peter 4:3-7
- Widely modeled by our citizens. Romans 6:4, 12:1-2; 1 Cor 6:11.
- Lovingly enforced in our discipline. 1 Cor 5:9-13, Gal 6:1-2.
- Be gracious, courteous and respectful to the immoral. Avoid distasteful ugly encounters with or about them. 1 Corinthians 9-10; see also Daniel’s approach in Babylon and Persia. (He courageously spoke truth when summoned but we have no record of him initiating a scolding lecture on morality in Babylon.)
- Be clear in our understanding and bold in our presentation of the Gospel. 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Peter 3:15
- Remember that man’s heart is hungry for truth and meaning that only Jesus can supply.
- Deal with those we differ with by asking questions for reflection and self introspection as Jesus did so often. Matthew 22:20, 41-45; Avoid the lecture approach. Herein lies the secret of Matthew 10:16. See also Proverbs 17:28, 23:9, 25:8,11.
- Be prepared to suffer ignominious reproach from our enemies for the sake and glory of Christ. When persecution comes, accept it with thanksgiving to God 2 Peter 4:14 and patient gentleness toward our enemies 1 Peter 2:21-23.
- Keep the doors open so that if or when they “come to themselves” and experience the pain of sin, they will have a safe place to turn to for healing and salvation. Luke 15:17-24
- Ultimately release the responsibility of saving the world to Jesus. It’s not up to us to save the world or even enforce righteousness. He only expects us to shine His light, bear witness to His life and apply His love in our relationships with others. Matthew 5:13-16.
- Return to the Word of God frequently for perspective, review, refocus, and confirmation of the truth. The best and surest way to combat lies is with the truth. Read it, love it, soak it up.
- Limit our exposure to social media whose comments are seldom subject to the discipline of logic, the authority of Scripture, or the courtesy of face to face interaction.
- Remember that the Church has a rich history of suffering and martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus. The American Church has benefited for 238 years from her Christian Foundation but when culture crosses truth, expect pressure and accept it with grace. John 15:18-21; 2 Timothy 2:11-13, 19;
While the Supremes have spoken, in many ways the jury is still out on how the new protections for same sex couples will play out on Main street America. Will Christian owned companies be forced to provide benefits for same sex couples? That seems likely. Will churches be required to receive into their membership? Undecided. Will dissenting pastors have their arms twisted to force them to perform marriages against their convictions? My hope is that religious organizations will be exempted from performing ceremonies which violate their fundamental beliefs. Otherwise, we will likely have another showdown in the court system this time over the First Amendment. I can only imagine the contortions the First Amendment will endure in order for the government to coerce the church to comply with federal morality.
We will await the next round with grace and do our best to show our enemy what real love looks like.