Saturday, May 19, 2012

Believing Must Also Mean Following

Believing Must Also Mean Following

The man loved Jesus with all his heart. Since that day thirty years ago when he believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that faith in Him was the only path to eternal life, Stephen’s life had never been the same. He married a believing woman and they started a family. Throughout their marriage they were active in a Baptist church and more often than not they prayed together. They both had a heart for missions, and many times they had visiting missionaries over for dinner.

They had two boys and one girl, and they all went to Christian schools. The family portrait for the church directory looked almost like a Norman Rockwell painting. Stephen was so proud and so thankful to God. His firstborn, a daughter, graduated from High School and attended a Christian college. She aspired to be a missionary, but eventually met a Christian young man and they began a life together.

His oldest son also attended a Christian college and felt called to be a teacher in a Christian High School. After he graduated from college he was hired in a large Christian High School and met a wonderful young lady who taught English. They were married in that church and one year later saw their first born enter the world. Stephen was bursting with gratitude.

Their youngest son was always somewhat different although never openly rebellious. But when he entered his senior year in High School it became increasingly evident that there was more than just a different personality. This boy never showed any interest in girls and he kept to himself. He seemed pleasant and was a good student. Stephen was not overly concerned.

But somewhere in the middle of his senior year, Stephen took his son on a fishing trip. It would be just the two of them. They drove the rented boat to the middle of the lake, put their lines in the water, and waited for a big bass to come calling. But as they waited, they began to talk. At first it was about sports, then it was about what his son would do after High School, and some other things. But then his son asked his father a question.

“Dad, can I ask you something?”

Sure,” replies Stephen. “Anything.”

Do you ever feel like you’re…different?”

“Just ask your mother!”

No, I’m serious. I feel as though I am completely different than other guys my age.”

And here is where I come out of the narrative and enter into my personal perspective. The young man was confiding to his father about his difficult feelings. He did not feel the same way about girls as did his male friends, and he struggled with feelings about other guys. Being raised in the church he knew what the Scriptures said about those feelings, and that just added to his struggle.

Now any father knows how he feels about his children. Whether adopted or from his own loins, a true father experiences affections for his children that go beyond what he is capable of actually expressing. Our hearts speak to us in ways that are more easily revealed by mothers, however our feelings of love and affection are unmistakable. So what does a father, a Christian father, feel when his son or daughter reveals that they have same sex attractions? He knows that they will struggle almost their entire life, and he also knows that there are no neat and succinct incantations that can chase away such feelings.

Most Christian fathers have heard very unkind words spoken by believers about gay people. And when someone they love reveals that struggle, the vicious things people have said swirl around in that father’s head. There are many thousands of Christian families who are experiencing the heartbreak and confusion associated with a loved one who has same sex attractions. I cannot imagine what a father feels whose son has confided in him about his “different” feelings and that same father has to endure the insensitivity and the harsh rhetoric emanating from the ecclesiastical and conservative strongholds.

Even some famous people have called for gay people to be killed, and I have read a face book entry by one of my former high school classmates calling for the same. Many times indifference is all a gay person can hope for. The church has paraded her doctrinal credentials concerning homosexuality but has refused to parade her credentials concerning love, humility, and grace. Those attributes seem to be confined to allowing a car to cut in front of you during rush hour. How very sad.

People all over the world experience deep and penetrating pain and fear. And since faith in Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to eternal life, the church has been called to be both a gospel life and a gospel mouthpiece. But that kind of witness takes a self denying sacrifice, and the easier course is to join a moral fight that “boldly” embraces a portion of Biblical truth while assigning other portions to a much smaller dimension. To use homosexuality as a proof of your “orthodoxy” is theological cowardice as well as a clever disguise concerning your vast failures to not only live up to the life of Christ, but your refusal to even see it.

The “do unto others” verse is nothing more than a worn out cliché which has been so eroded that it means nothing in today’s fast paced and self absorbed community of faith. We are too busy championing moral and economic issues to be bothered about how we treat people, to say nothing about how we see them. The faith that is supposed to share and emulate the Lord Jesus has all but disappeared in the west. We now have constructed an ecclesiastical structure which pays our “servant” leaders handsomely, produces all kinds of professional materials to guide us in Biblical “learning”, and in general exists for the encouragement and glorification of man.

And when an issue like the gay issue presents itself, the church continues to make full use of such a thing by being reactionary. And when a preacher says that homosexual behavior is a sin, and when the listening congregation nod and loudly say “Amen!”, well they all can retire to their homes, overeat and watch football, but with the satisfaction that they have not succumbed to the world’s liberal agenda. However that is not the complete story.

It is not enough for us to avoid certain sins and identify them as sin. We are also called to a more proactive life that must begin with denying ourselves. Before we can bask in the warmth of a doctrinal tanning bed, we must go without the camp bearing His reproach. Jesus did not come to castigate sinners or to parade His own perfect view of everything. He came to save that which was lost, and in that redemptive endeavor Jesus often was seen in the company of sinners who today would be sermon fodder for the Biblical Bourgeoisie. Why didn’t the Son of God just come to earth as a full grown man and die on the cross one week later? Why the 33 years? It is obvious that we are supposed to study, meditate, and emulate the life of our Master as revealed in the gospels. What other reason can their be?

But in today’s literate and enlightened church community, it is light years easier to embrace doctrinal truth than it is to emulate the Lord Jesus, which by the way is also doctrinal truth. Just a cursory reading of the Sermon on the Mount is an arresting indictment of how we have strayed from the essence of what it means to be a disciple. Church discipleship classes are taught exclusively in classrooms when they should be taught on the street as well. And when a believer can regurgitate our well worn doctrinal mantras he is proclaimed to be a disciple, when in fact he may be far from it.

A computer can be programmed to recite doctrinal truth, but only a true disciple can live a life that is demonstrably a revelation of the incarnate gospel narratives. I have primarily used the gay issue to provide a mirror, but this issue permeates the entire landscape of human culture. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, and if this culture is fallen in all its ways, then should not our lives be remarkable exceptions with such glaring diversions from the cultural practices that men everywhere cannot help but notice? But instead we have become an amalgam of moral tenants, capitalism, nationalism, and with a muffled set of redemptive truths that live on paper rather than beat inside our hearts.

When I became a believing follower of Christ in 1975, the term “born again” was still in vogue. When a lost person believed on the Lord Jesus Christ their entire lives were changed and continued to change. Today it takes all kinds of manipulation just to keep people coming to the Sunday morning gathering. Thirst for the Word? A dynamic and growing prayer life? A consuming desire to see souls saved? Weeping over people’s sins? Who are we kidding, that doesn’t even describe preachers anymore.

But we can take solace in this: We believe in Biblical inerrancy. Can there be any deeper and self serving hypocrisy that that?

Lk.6: 45 - A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
46  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?


Anonymous said...

You must love the Word of God more than your son.

Rick Frueh said...

Yes, and we must manifest ALL of it, not just the comfortable moral niches. It cannot just be a telescope, but it must always be a mirror.

Anonymous said...

Agree wholeheartedly.

It's so easy for a heterosexual person to stay in tune with the Word. It's not so easy for a homosexual.

It's easier to throw stones towards those with strong 'feelings' than be thankful that they themselves do not struggle with these 'strong' feelings.

Yet, some of those who throw stones pre-meditatively choose to leave their spouses, or choose to enter careers that will tempt them to stray and become addicted to success and money. We never hear about that by the stone-throwers. We don't hear much about how some pro-life women would never consider an abortion, yet would leave their infant with strangers to pursue their careers. The church never chastises women for the pursuit of youth(cosmetic surgery), money, choosing career over family. Or, we never hear any complaints about women being ordained as ministers of a church. The epistles made it clear. When the order of the home is upside down and is ruled by the woman(man being housedad, mother higher breadwinner), who are ruled by the children, who are ruled by the pets, where is the husband's role as the priest of the home? The Head of the church is Christ, and the man is the head of the home, or the woman. It's the order that God commands, in the epistles. But for some reason, this gets swept under the rug. Or, we never hear any stone-throwers call out their christian peers for spending outrageous amounts of cash on their pets.

We don't hear any stone-throwers mention polygamy. There are sects in the US that still practice. How come polygamy isn't worthy of God's wrath, or maybe bestiality? If there was more honesty, we'd find that there are commands in the New Testament that we all disobey.

Prov. 6:16 - These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren."

Kim said...

Being the parent of a gay child and loving the Lord Jesus Christ has caused me to do some of my heaviest spiritual thinking. How to love my child and show her the love of Christ while at the same time teaching her that God has not changed through the ages and that a life that accepts Christ as Savior is a life that must die every day to selfish wants and desires. I pray on that day I stand before Him that He will say that I did my best to win her for Him by loving her and telling her the truth, but never condemning her. It is not my place to send her to hell. Parenting, they say, is one of the world's hardest jobs. Parenting a gay child and staying true to Jesus and trying to show that child Christ is even harder. I hope I am conveying this accurately. It is hard and there's very few to go to for Godly advice. Thank you for your devotion to God and heart for living as He lived.

Rick Frueh said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. We should remember that salvation does not require a pre-faith forsaking of any particular sin, and all of us still sin after we are saved. All of us. And our sins are of tow varieties. Some we know are sin and some we do not.

So I do not make the gay thing a pre-salvation issue. And after salvation, we can speak words of direction from a Biblical standpoint, but we also must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.

yes, there are "gay" churches whose main purpose is to justify their sexual orientation. But there are gay people who have believed on Christ and who continue to be blind to that particular sin. If no one can be blind to any sin they commit and be saved, then no one is saved.

For every verse about homosexual behavior there are twenty about money and greed. And millions upon millions of western believers sin against God with their money but no one questions their salvation. Preachers from MacArthur to Stanley to David Jeremiah and many, many others are wealthy. That is to say nothing of wealthy Christian singers.

If they are saved and yet store up treasures for themselves here on earth, then a gay person can embrace Christ and still be blind to his sin. Only God can know the heart.

Anonymous said...

our relationship with Our Father is the first and foremost in our children's lives - it is our faith in HIS word and HIS promises to the parent - my children are not gay but not walking with Yahushua - i know that someday they will KNOW HIM because of Our Father's promises to me - i can quote many such - this was always a fear of mine that i would be asked to trust HIM through a homosexual chlld and it did not happen but there are other ways to NOT be walking with the most important thing in my life, my Savior. my faith has to kick in awfully hard - i just keep focused on what HE has for me to do - on HIM - not on the children - as abraham and sarah had to do regarding the promise of a son. it becomes easier as we trust HIM more and more and dwell on HIM. HE will do everything HE can do to get them on the right track if we are faithful to HIM - it begins with us. i am so sorry for those that have this walk - it must be very difficult - i don't bend to say it is right to be homosexual but it is RIGHT to trust Our Father's faithfulness to us. HE will take care of the "ram caught in the bushes" - it is our job to trust HIM.

Tutu said...

It's easier these days to make homosexuality the poster sin we should all avoid. It's amazing how Christians denounce one sin and act completely ignorant of the Bible on others. If we all as followers of Jesus Christ would just accept that all our righteousness is as filthy rags before the Father, we will look with compassion on fellow sinners rather than condemn them.

However, I believe that homosexuality is treated differently from other sins in that few other sins are held up as sanctioned by God. Most criminals don't go about claiming they have the God-given right to steal and authorities should clear the way for them to engage in their chosen criminal activity. Nor do most Christians (in the West) claim polygamy is ok because it was practiced by notable men of God in the Bible. Yet homosexuals claim that it is natural and God-sanctioned.

I agree that homosexuality is natural, as in the way sin is natural to fallen man, but that's about it. It's as sinful as any other sin and those who struggle with it do so even as other Christians struggle with their own sins. The problem arises when homosexuality is removed from the list of sins we should abstain from as disciples of Jesus.

What I wonder though is why some popular Christian ministers are battling the culture and authorities on the issue of gay marriage and homosexuality in general. They are of their father the devil and will act as such. Does the bible not say that things the world will continue to degenerate until Jesus comes back again to finally make everything right? It's like fighting a losing battle. Why not spend energy on actually helping Christians who struggle with homosexuality?

Sorry, I know I was all over the place in my comment.

Anonymous said...

I am the sister of a lovely believing woman who struggles with feelings of attraction toward other women. Before her conversion and baptism, I think she had practiced behaviors that are wrong. Now, because she loves the Lord, she refrains from acting upon her attractions and even is careful to avoid people and situations that may be strong temptations. That's all I counsel her to do. Her "feelings" and weaknesses of the flesh are not sin; only acting on them are. I see it just like for any heterosexual person: sex outside of marriage is wrong. Flee youthful lusts. It's not up to her to change her tendency to be attracted to women; it's her responsibility to keep herself chaste through grace as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Chaste just as any of us are to keep ourselves as vessels of honor.
I think it's important that my sister can be honest about her feelings and temptations with me, and so seek counsel from me because I do not condemn her feelings. Whatever our feelings, our lot is to live consecrated to the Lord and possess our own vessels without sexual sin of any kind. Being "gay" isn't sin; engaging in sexual behavior outside of marriage is.
I am glad to hear from the believing mother of a homosexual child. I'm sure you cannot share your burden with too many other church people. Your faith is inspiring to me; I will pray for you and your daughter. Love her and evangelize her and keep upholding Truth.

The issue of what our civil society and culture decide to do about homosexuality is a separate issue from what individual people decide to do with Christ and His call to holiness. It may not be good for society to allow gay "marriage", but that isn't the church's commission to worry about that.

Anonymous said...

The LORD demands that we be holy for He is Holy. I disagree that one can be saved and call himself saved yet continue living in known sin. He who is blind to sin is still lost and still needs to have an encounter with The LORD JESUS CHRIST, otherwise all who profess Christ including false teachersare assured of eternal life. The Word of God teaches us specifically what is sin including homosexuality in addition to liars, adulterers, etc 1 Cor 6v9-10 so let us not give each other false assurances of salvation and not allow sanctification to take place in our lives just because we supposedly "embrace CHRIST". All living in any kind of sin MUST REPENT and that includes you and me.

Rick Frueh said...

While it is true that believers should allow the Spirit to purify and sanctify them, living in sin does not necessarily mean you are not saved. Hebrews tells us that if we are children of God then God will chasten us when we need it. Also, Corinthians tell us about some believers taken to heaven early because of sin. The man living with his father’s wife turned out to be saved, even while he was living in sin. Are all divorced and remarried believers unsaved? And if you and I sin every day, then we all practice sin. Are all patriotic believers unsaved since they are living in idolatry?

Thank God for grace.