Reposted from Pursuing the Pursuer, with permission.
“Your skirt length is a heart problem.”
“Music with a 2-4 beat is demonic.”
“Christians should never step foot in a movie theater.”
Maybe you remember hearing things like this in your church.
Some young Christians, when they look back on their upbringing, only remember a Christianity of “dos and donts.” They only remember their pastors preaching against rock music, clothing standards and movie theaters and the guilt they felt when they violated these commands. And the first chance they get, they flee.
Searching for an “authentic” Christianity outside of the realm in which they were raised, they find something else—something freeing. They find a message of hope that says, Stop focusing on the dos and don’ts. Focus on loving Jesus and loving others. Break free from the chains of legalism. Upon hearing this refreshing message, many young Christians proceed to appropriately toss out the legalistic bathwater…but tragically toss the baby right along with it:
“God isn’t concerned with what I watch or listen to.”
“God looks on the heart. He doesn’t care about outward appearance.”
“I’m accepted by him, I don’t have to worry about ever displeasing him.”
CHAPTER VIII - CONSECRATION (Exodus 28:40-43)
BY REV. HENRY W. FROST, DIRECTOR FOR NORTH AMERICA OF THE CHINA INLAND MISSION, GERMANTOWN, PA.
Some years ago, when I resided in Toronto, I went one Sabbath morning to attend service at Knox Church, of which the Rev. Dr. Henry M. Parsons was pastor. I went to the service in a very comfortable state of mind, longing of course, for a new blessing, but without any special sense of the kind of blessing which I needed. God, however, understood my real need, and before the sermon was done that morning my comfort was past and I was in distress of mind and spirit. The sermon had been upon a theme connected with the new life in Christ, and the Lord had made such a personal application of it to me that I felt wholly undone. My situation was similar to that of the bride in Solomon’s Song who cried: “Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me!” And in that state of heart, I returned to my home.
From VOICE, July/Aug 2015. Used with permission.
My frequent travels take me to some unusual places, but one that always catches my attention is in central Indiana. There, alongside Interstate 65, is a billboard proclaiming the “Birthplace of Cool.”
James Dean was born in Fairmount, Indiana, in 1931. But it wasn’t until 1955, when his movie “Rebel Without a Cause” was released, that cool was truly born. When that film hit the theaters, youth culture exploded into middle-class white America and so did the concept of cool.
James Dean was edgy, rebellious, a misunderstood loner. He played by no one’s rules but his own. And following this most cool cultural icon came many others for my generation, especially in music. Elvis pushed trans-generational, wholesome pop singers like Perry Como and Pat Boone off the scene much to the delight of his fans. Then rockers joined Elvis and everything exploded as my generation came of age: sex, drugs and rock and roll ruled the 1960s.
Believers need to understand that there are varying levels of relationships within the Body of Christ, each with differing responsibilities. Although somewhat inclusive on the broadest level (our brotherhood in Christ), relationships become increasingly limited as one moves toward the individual’s standing before the Lord (priesthood of the believer). Thus, the most limited level of relationship is the priesthood of the believer, a level so exclusive that no one except the individual believer and the Lord are able to enjoy it.
Confusing the limitations of one level with those of another is where the majority of detonations occur in the minefield of biblically mandated relationships between believers. Seeking to apply the freedoms intended for a “lower” level to a level designed to be more limited produces inclusivism and compromise. Likewise, seeking to impose the restrictions intended for an “upper” level to a level designed to be broader brings exclusivism and unwarranted schism. Therefore the Pyramid of Responsibility of biblically mandated relationships must be understood and applied as believers seek to emulate our holy and loving God.
Tiptoeing through the minefields encircling the relationships within the Body of Christ is enormously daunting. It seems that at any moment the dreaded event of stepping in the wrong place will trigger a mine that Satan has laid to disrupt fellowship between believers. As successive issues detonate, the Body of Christ is often divided, and the loss of its vitality prevents brethren from being effective in representing Christ Jesus.
Some of these mines are important areas of truth and doctrine that must never be viewed as negotiable. Others are incidental matters that ought not to inflict the damage they do. Some believers conclude that the risk of crossing the field is too high. Consequently, they want little to do with attempting to relate to the entire Body of Christ. They stay where it is safe and allow the rest of the Body of Christ to do the same. As a result of this protectionism and exclusivity, their impact is greatly diminished.
Other believers are so desirous of enjoying relationships with the entire Body of Christ they become indiscriminate. These believers seem to care little about the issues and the damage that compromising their doctrinal beliefs brings. By the time they reach the other side of the minefield, there is little genuine Christianity left. As a result of their inclusiveness, they have little to offer in terms of meaningful fellowship in Christ.
From Voice, Mar/Apr 2014. Used by permission.
This is a call to purity and balance. It represents that truth of God’s Word which has fallen upon the rocks of neglect in today’s American Church. It represents teaching from the Bible which seems so terribly out of harmony with our American culture. It almost seems pugnacious, no matter how graciously it may be stated.
This is about the doctrine of separation, biblical holiness in life and relationships.
I have watched with growing dismay as so many in the American evangelical church have cheerfully descended into theological illiteracy lacking any sense of doctrinal discernment which is based on the careful study and application of the Scriptures. And the “problem is that even the mildest assertion of Christian truth today sounds like a thunderclap because the well-polished civility of our religious talk has kept us from hearing much of this kind of thing.”1