‘Jesus, could we put this whole crucifixion thing to a vote?’

Recently, yet another congregation of Christians took a vote and decided “overwhelmingly” to agree amongst themselves to overturn centuries of orthodoxy with regard to human sin and the singular rescue plan we all freely have been offered in Jesus. Unsurprisingly, the driving issue at hand was God’s revelation as it relates to His created order, specifically human sexuality. It’s no secret that sex and gender issues have become increasingly divisive; I do not intend to wade into that particularly-powerful riptide at this time.

The Last Supper (1464–67) by Dieric Bouts.

The Last Supper (1464–67) by Dieric Bouts.

Instead, I will simply state that I continue to be deeply saddened by the sheer pride and entrenched self-will of fellow Christians, myself included. Why is it we think God’s clearly-revealed will is something we can vote on, either as an organization or (more commonly) as individuals? Are we really that powerful? More to the point, has the heart of man evolved to such an impressive degree that we no longer need any form of restraint whatsoever? Headlines both ancient and modern would beg to differ.

It is instructive for me to frequently be reminded how much opposition Jesus faced from His own disciples. Forget about the Romans, the Pharisees, Judas and Pontius Pilate; Jesus had plenty of rebellion with which to contend around the nightly campfire.

The plain, “insensitive” facts as revealed in all four of the Gospel accounts are that Jesus clearly saw Himself as being on a mission, He regularly said a lot of hard things that ticked people off and He had absolutely no intention of making His ministry palatable, not even to those who loved Him. Apparently, the seriousness of what He was doing so far outweighed popular opinion that He never once bothered to ask other people for their input. In short, He did not put his exceedingly-unpopular mission to a vote; He revealed His intentions, made zero compromises along the way and saw it through to completion…without hiring a consultant or running several focus groups.

Without descending into irreverence or in any way minimizing the heartfelt compassion Jesus has for each and every human being ever born, it does seem as though His earthly mission of salvation boils down to an either-or, take-it-or-leave-it proposition.

So are professing, orthodox Christians on “the wrong side of history?” It seems to me that American Christians, in particular, really need to stay mindful of the fact that we are regularly shown to be hypocrites. With regard to the issues of historical slavery and our nation’s subsequent, modern-day institutionalized racism, it’s helpful, I think, to recall that otherwise-faithful believers have been (and continue to be) completely oblivious. Huge swaths of Christendom were quite content to turn a blind eye to oppression and the commodification of fellow image-bearers for monetary gain. (For more on our collective guilt as Christians with regard to the divisive issue of race, you can’t do much better than Pastor Dave Cover’s sermon yesterday, Generational DNA.)

These days, however, whenever I consider how volatile issues are ripping churches, families and our entire culture to shreds, I can’t help but notice that most of the heated discussion is centered on our personal preferences with regard to what the Bible teaches.

Today, we as a culture – both self-proclaimed Christians as well as unbelievers – seem to want to retain Judeo-Christian morality (whatever we think that means) but cut out the parts of that ethos that would necessitate any life change on our part. We want to do whatever we wish with our time, treasure and talent, but we’d like it if the random shootings and bombings would end: “Yes, let’s keep people from killing each other and stealing stuff, but please stay out of my private affairs.”

Instead of asking whether or not I am on the wrong side of history, I think it’s more helpful to embrace the notion that absolutely every single one of us, myself definitely included, have been (and all too often continue to be) on the wrong side of “His story.” When the Apostle Paul asserts that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), I am immediately convinced that he was talking about me. There’s no question about it, I need Someone to save me from myself; I’ll hold off worrying about my own likes and dislikes until sometime after I have been rescued from drowning.

Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself, “Why was it put there in the first place?”
G.K. Chesterton

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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