“John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, “He’s possessed by a demon.” The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, “He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!” Luke 7:33-34”
In the above passage, both John the Baptist and Jesus get criticized for the same thing, only for opposite reasons. The Pharisees and Sadducees of biblical times were non-stop critics. They criticized John for not eating or drinking enough, and then turned on Jesus for eating and drinking with tax collectors, prostitutes and other sinners. Hard to see any consistency in that. But they were really trying to find fault in two people who exposed their hypocrisy of emphasizing outward religious actions as a replacement for true religion.
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t handle criticism well. Never have. Even “constructive” criticism. It was equally as hard for me to hand it out – in my 45 years of law practice, including 10 years in management of a large firm, I had to perform periodic “reviews” of attorneys and staff under my supervision. In some cases, the reviews were difficult due to inadequacies of the person involved. In my later years, and after I became in Christian, I became more comfortable with the review process by spooning out criticism with praise for things well done. No person, even if they have serious shortcomings, deserved a totally bad review. Everyone has some redeeming qualities, and I would often use the review session to encourage the good ones and then talk about areas where they could improve.
In this day and time, Christians are now being criticized – not for what they have done, but for what they stand for and believe. Their biblical stands on marriage, homosexuality and abortions are now counter-cultural. Matthew Rueger recently wrote a “back to the future” book entitled Sexual Morality in a Christless World which expands on this theme.
In a review of the Rueger’s book Eric Metaxas says this: “In just a few short years our society has fundamentally altered the meaning of marriage, embraced the notion that men can become women, and is now promoting the idea that grown men should be welcome to share a bathroom with women and young girls. Not unexpectedly, we’re also seeing movement toward the normalization of polygamy, pedophilia, and incest.” The current progressive advancement of same sex marriage, marital infidelity and more is not a new phenomenon but is actually a return to the pagan world of Rome. In the Roman culture, Christian concepts of marital fidelity, self-giving love and sexual chastity were considered foreign, even shocking to the people of that time.
I won’t go into all of the causes of this current cultural shift, but one of the factors is the decline of Christianity in the west. This decline now has made the Christian in the public eye “old fashioned”, “out of touch”, or increasingly, having their views labeled as discrimination. Again, this is what Jesus and John faced – not just criticism for what they believed, but for who they were. We are seeing a dangerous trend in our culture where just expressing views of the sanctity of marriage between male and female because of biblical beliefs is considered discrimination. A case in point – the small Christian owned bakery that refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding results in a lawsuit and a criminal charge of discrimination.
About twenty years ago – in the mid-1990’s – I foresaw some of these trends and commented that the cost of being a Christian in the 21st century will go up as Christians are increasingly marginalized for their biblical views. Sadly, I was right. We are facing criticism from liberals and progressives who have advanced an “anything goes” mentality when it comes to human sexuality and life.
There is hope – Christianity reversed the pagan culture of Rome by communicating value to the victims who were often slaves who learned that their body had value – not in the monetary sense as a personal property to be enjoyed or abandoned by their owner – but eternal value as having been made in God’s image. We need to learn to articulate our worldview in a convincing winsome way. Our church did something this summer that I thought was brave and forward thinking: they did a series of messages entitled the “Untouchables”. Each of the sermon topics were not normal Sunday sermon content – the topics included a Christian and biblically based worldview about sexuality, poverty, racism and discrimination, refugees and immigration, and sex trafficking. We need more of this type of teaching.
The challenge here is obvious, but no less so that what faced Christians in the Roman era. We are now faced with worldview that has returned to a pagan revival of sexuality and the diminished value of human beings. Christ and his church managed to turn the tide against a far more sexually cruel and chaotic world than ours. That’s the hope we have in Jesus – we can turn the tide again, but it will take dedication and backbone to learn to communicate Christian values in a world that is increasingly anti-Christian. I would encourage you to read and learn more about these topics so that you will be educated and armed to articulate and express your biblical views in the marketplace.
FURTHER STUDY: Eric Metaxis’ article entitled “Progressive Regressive Sexuality” can be found at http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/29815. Matthew Rueger’s book can be purchased on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Sexual-Morality-Christless-Matthew-Rueger-ebook/dp/B01GP8H83M/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1474117191&sr=1-1&keywords=matthew+rueger Other commentaries can be found on Chuck Colson’s website Breakpoint (www.breakpoint.org) which is designed to help believers form a healthy and robust Christian worldview “in an increasingly hostile secular culture” where Christians are now faced with “issues and choices we’ve never had to deal with before.”
UNTOUCHABLES: You can see the sermon series entitled the “Untouchables” here: http://www.cccpinehurst.org/resources/sermons/?page=2
WORSHIP: Listen to Christ Tomlin sing about a “well that never runs dry”.
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