Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Exclusive Kingdom

II Cor.6: 14-18 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Much of modern Christianity has interpreted those verses to mean that we should avoid marrying an unbeliever, or going into business with an unbeliever, or joining in an endeavor with an unbeliever that would compromise your Christian testimony. All of those things are good warnings to us as followers of Jesus, but the admonitions of these verses are more comprehensive than just those things.

Paul refers to us all as “workers together with Him” at the beginning of the chapter, and his exhortation is for us to be without offense in all things so that the ministry is not blamed. That is the thrust of chapter six – that we are blameless in all things so we do not bring reproach and misrepresentation to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in verses 14 through 18 Paul gets more specific about the Spirit’s reasons for our separate status. Of course Paul has made it clear that we are to have contact with sinners for the express purpose of sharing Christ and His gospel, but these verses warn against being tethered to unbelievers in any form of agreement or covenant that would dilute our Christian witness. This is not some healthy suggestion, this is a spiritual mandate that has seen and unseen ramifications.
When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we sacrifice the Spirit’s blessing and power needed to reveal the gospel of Jesus Christ.

God desires to empower vessels that are set apart for His exclusive use. When we are yoked with unbelievers, especially in endeavors of moral reformation, we relinquish the power of the Spirit that is exclusively for the gospel ministry and witness. (Acts 1:8)

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we are susceptible to temporal distractions.

Many moral and political movements bring our focus onto earthly issues and not issues of the kingdom of God. The salvation of souls is our desire and the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to see that come to pass.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we may be influenced by their fallen attitudes.

Politics and certain moral issues can and do influence believers to hate people whose views are different than those expressed in God’s Word. Mockery, self righteousness, demeaning satire, and a general atmosphere of disrespect and hatred are easily seen in the political arena. This is at odds with everything we know about our Master Jesus Christ.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we can allow ourselves to use their carnal weapons.

It cannot be denied that one way to leverage political advantage is to attack and demean your supposed opponent. Instead of showing love and grace many believers have adopted the ways of the heathen, even applauding them as “conservative” voices of morality. God’s kingdom uses prayer and His Word as His only weapons, and humility, grace, mercy, and love as the wielding of His weapons.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers we may become blind to the reality of their spiritual standing.

Regardless of how a lost person espouses any moral issue, whether it be abortion or the sanctity of marriage, he is still eternally lost without Christ, and though he may have the most impeccable moral views he remains a rebel to the gospel and Jesus Christ. If we lose sight of that by joining with him we may well add to his blindness and ours.

When we are unscripturally connected to unbelievers we are attempting to bring two opposing kingdoms together.

Light and darkness cannot mix, and in fact, light always triumphs over darkness. When we join with the kingdom of darkness over anything we allow the darkness to have credibility. Those unscriptural associations place a bushel over the light of the gospel, and when the darkness agrees to a union with believers is exposes the weakness of the gospel light.

When we are unscripturally connected with unbelievers the gospel of Jesus Christ has been compromised and we have accommodated the lost world.

Why would we leave our resting place of divine life and redemption? Why would we succumb to the sirens that call us to Martha’s kitchen and leave the feet of the gospel’s Author? It seems so insidious, but it is in fact a dynamic that changes the entire landscape and infuses the followers of Jesus into the crowd of other causes and ultimately presents us as one of them, only with a little different take on religion.

It is time for a sweeping revival that awakens the church to the exclusiveness of God’s gospel kingdom. The early church did not set up lobbyists in Rome; the early church did not petition Caesar to pass laws beneficial to their cause; the early church did not spread the message of moral values; the early church preached and died for the message of the everlasting gospel and in so doing they shook the civilized world. It is this foundation from which we have strayed. The church now believes that politics and voting blocks can press forward God’s eternal kingdom when in fact it countermands the very message of redemption itself. People and nations do not need to come into compliance with God's moral dictates, and in a real sense they cannot do so. They need the redemption that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

Many parts of the visible church in the west regularly attack past and present presidents concerning money, morals, foreign affairs, and a host of other earthly matters. And many display an attitude and rhetoric in direct violation to the mandates of the New Testament and the life of Christ. This just adds to the confusion about the gospel since on one hand the church teaches that men without Christ are dead in their sins yet they consistently admonish them for those sins and seemingly attempt to get them to stop by a variety of vicious slurs and creative vitriol. The gospel, therefore, is by default only a caveat and not the unrivaled and exclusive message that it should be.

And in the midst of all this political verbiage and conservative vs. liberal altercations, the gospel has not only been misrepresented, the Christlike pattern of life is abrogated in favor of hostility toward “political enemies” in general and many unscriptural alliances. The sum total is a powerless gospel that reduces redemption to moral and political legalism and is a de facto rejection of Jesus Christ and His gospel. It has pervaded the church and made us spiritually impotent and prisoners of the very culture we say we reject.

The Spirit has opened new caverns of disobedience in my own life and just avoiding political involvement and moral crusades will not be enough for me or any believer. We must seek a new and vast frontier in Christ that allows us to be clothed in humility, walking in the reality of His presence, and seeking the power of His Spirit through broken obedience, prayer, and the two greatest tenants of love. Please do not use me as an example or template, for I am just a pilgrim who continues to fall and learn, which brings me to realize more profoundly each day my utter dependence of God’s amazing grace. There is no other way than grace – there is no other way than grace.

There is no other way than grace. Selah…

1 comment:

Ephesian said...

AMEN!

Rick, among other things, God used your blog to rid me of my "alliance" with political conservatism and I had to repent of all the wreckless comments I said against our President during the campaign. By the Lord's grace, I have nothing but love for the man now and pray for him. In fact, the more I learn about and listen to him, I get the sense that he is a deep thinker who truly is searching for truth. I doubt the real message of the Cross has ever been shared with him either in word or deed!

I also started to see that so many of our nation's problems would not exist if Christians (or at least those who claim to be) were adhering to the mandates Paul gives to the churches addressed in his epistles.

If Christians were doing our part in caring for the sick both in and outside our congregations, would we have as huge a healthcare problem? I'm not talking fake Benny Hinn miracle healing here--but you know, coming together as a congregation to help someone pay for their CAT scan for example...

If more Christians spent their energies loving and caring for pregnant teens, adopting children, and living out the Gospel, rather than voicing judgment and condemnation through political means--would members of the "left" have such a misconstrued view of Christian teachings based on the Pro-Life movement?

Christians, through our actions, are to *BE* the reason why unbelievers have a reason TO BELIEVE. But because we haven't done our job---unbelievers such as Obama look to believe in other things--like the Government, because they don't have hope in anything else! Nobody's given them a reason to hope in anything else--but that's precisely our job!