Friday, June 25, 2010

Your Friday Phil

Here is this weeks Friday Phil. This week we use the wayback machine to reach back into the Pyro archives to 2008 and find him warning about being an offence in our own right to those to whom God has sent us. And while he is specifically addressing political activism it bears minding in every aspect of our lives for the Gospel is offence enough, let’s not add to it. It’s just not our place too.

An Addendum on the Church and Politics

30 June 2008
by Phil Johnson

Some additional thoughts on what it means to "Let your light shine."

One of the greatest dangers of the political activism of the so-called "religious right" is this: It fosters a tendency to make enemies out of people who are supposed to be our mission-field, even while we're forming political alliances with Pharisees and false teachers.

To hear some Christians today talk, you might think that rampant sins like homosexuality and abortion in America could be solvedby legislation. A hundred years ago, the pet issue was prohibition, and mainstream evangelicalism embraced the notion that outlawing liquor would solve the problem of drunkenness forever in America. It was a waste of time and energy, and it was an unhealthy diversion for evangelicals and fundamentalists during an era when the truth was under siege within the church. Lobbying for laws to change the behavior of worldly people was the lastproject evangelicals needed to make their prime mission in the early 20th century. Just like today. Remember Galatians 2:21: "If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." AndGalatians 3:21: "If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law."

We have the true and only answer to sins like homosexuality, divorce, drug addiction, and other forms of rampant immorality. It's the glorious liberty of salvation in Christ. It's a message about the grace of God, which has accomplishes what no law could ever do. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation—Good News thattruly changes hearts—and we need to proclaim that message. Politically-driven hostility against our neighbors is not the best way to let the light of the glorious gospel of Christ shine unto them.

We're like lighthouse keepers in a dark and stormy world. We've been given a mission of rescue and mercy. We can't be like James and John, who in a moment of weakness and immaturity wanted to call down fire from heaven to annihilate some unbelievers who took an opposing stance. We are ambassadors of the true light, who came down to earth to seek and to save the lost—not to destroy men's lives, but to save them.

There's a true sense in which we are not to love the world or the things of the world. But the people of the world are another matter. We're supposed to love them all, including our enemies. Scripture is clear on this. We don't condone sin, and we certainly can't pretend to let our lights shine if we're having fellowship with the deeds of darkness. But we should have a Christlike love for sinners, and that is an essential part of what He demands when He calls us to let our lights shine, so that people see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father. In this way, true disciples of Christ must be markedly different from the Pharisees.

If you don't have a sense of deep compassion and heartfelt benevolence toward sinners, you're not letting your light shine. If you, as a redeemed sinner, look on other sinners with no feeling but disgust, that's nothing but pride. That was the very sin of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who "stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." And Jesus said that attitude is what kept him from being justified in God's eyes. Jesus, by contrast, "when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."

That's the perspective it takes to be a true light in this world.

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