By Erick Erickson
Likewise, I’ll be doing a daily audio devotional this week, which you can access by subscribing to my podcast*. The week will conclude with my annual Good Friday Show, which is broadcasted live on WSB Radio out of Atlanta.*
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
1,984 years ago this week, the world put God on trial. When offered a choice, the world surrendered up God to be tortured, crucified, and killed and asked that Pontius Pilate free the criminal Barabbas instead. The very same people who welcomed Christ into Jerusalem as a King at the beginning of the week, screamed for his crucifixion by the end of the week.
“One thousand nine hundred eighty-four years ago *this week*****, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.”
There is no compromise between Christ and the world. Young evangelicals, complacent in the United States and largely left alone, would do wise to remember this. Christians who side with Mammon should remember that Mamon sided with Barabbas.
Read surveys on millennials in churches and most of the surveys suggest these millennials are giving up on or making peace with abortion and gay marriage. The young are tempted to compromise with the world — to split the baby in an effort to love Jesus and be at least liked by the world. The cause of life and marriage has been replaced with opposition to human trafficking. The latter is a noble cause and one I have long championed. But for many, they pick up that cause because there is no one who really opposes it. It gives some Christians the luxury of being against something, without anyone being against them.
Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. Joe Carter has a great read on this from a few years ago.
Joe is right. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.
What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty-four years ago today, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.
Many young evangelicals who are making the decision that certain sins conflict with their personal beliefs, but they’re otherwise okay with the sin and will leave it alone. They are making a compromise to avoid conflict and be liked by the world. “I’m not one of those Christians,” they think and often say.
They want to be liked. They want the world to like them and to think them a part of the world. They view Christians who are seen as too hostile to others as inferior in spreading the Gospel or too judgmental. They fall victim to the sin of pride that their gospel is greater.
They’ll nod approvingly to the lyrics of Casting Crowns “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” saying, “Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did.”
Unfortunately for them, they’ll be hated anyway, even if they don’t realize it.
The Casting Crowns song, which is all over Christian stations, contains this lyric: “The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me.”
Christ was very clear on this.
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
The world is not on its way to Christ. The world hates Christ. The world will not allow a compromise between Christians and the world.
Evangelicals have a tough time on the issue of gay rights and younger Christians on abortion and other issues. If we hold to our convictions, we’re accused of hating. If we point out that sex outside of marriage is a sin, including among people of the same sex, we’re accused of saying they’re going to hell. If we point out the Biblical standard, even admitting we all fall short of the glory of God, we are accused of judging and, therefore, of being a hypocrite.
Christians are called to love their neighbors. Loving their neighbors does not mean turning a blind eye to their sin, or giving tacit approval to sin. Christians should want no one to go to hell. But we’ve arrived at a point where should we even mention this, we’re accused of saying folks are going to hell.
We must live our lives with love toward everyone and be friends to all who are open to being friends. But we should not delude ourselves. At some point the world will make us choose. And if we choose Christ the world will accuse us of hating, condemning, and judging. The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin. The world believes we cannot love the sinner if we do not fully affirm them, which means loving, or at least tolerating or accepting, their sin.
If we truly love our neighbor we must pray for their repentance, not accept their sin. If they tell us God made them that way, we must know that we were all born sinners. God didn’t do it. Our fallen nature did. The struggle with sin in the process of sanctification leads us closer to God. Those who revel in sin do not draw close. We don’t need to preach at them or condemn them. We need to love them and live relationally with them using our our stumbling toward Jesus as a way, hopefully, to also draw our friends to Jesus.
The chorus of the Casting Crowns song includes the line, “Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.” Christ’s heart breaks for all the fallen. Many Christians though are not believed when they confess their hearts break toward those who do not even recognize their sin.
Christians are accused of judging and casting stones, as the lyrics of that song claim, when all they are doing is not shying away from the fact that God sets standards. He may say to cast no stones, but he concludes with “go and sin no more.” Young evangelicals have bought into the notion that by proclaiming the standards of the Bible they are judging. They seek accommodation and given tacit approval to sin lest they be accused of judging or casting stones.
There is no accommodation on this issue with the world. Young evangelicals and others are deluded if they think they can seek a compromise with the world. The world will not let you compromise. The world will make you care.
Mammon chose Barabbas and too many young evangelicals are choosing Mammon. One day, if they remain faithful to Christ, they, you, and me will be made to care.