In Sunday’s sermon, “Recalibrating Expectations,” Ryan began a new sermon series through the book of First Peter, titled Between Two Worlds. The title of the series expresses an assumption at the heart of this book: we are “sojourners” on this earth (1 Peter 2:11).
For Christians in the west, this world is feeling a little less like home with each passing year. Changing attitudes within our society toward Christianity and Christian convictions are a reality, and we should not be naive to the implications of these changes. Yet, our ultimate horizon is fixed and unmoving, for God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [us]” (1 Peter 1:3-4).
But that isn’t now. Just last Thursday, evangelical Christian pastor, Louie Giglio, withdrew from his part in the upcoming Presidential Inauguration after pressure from all directions, including probably the White House, to do so. Why? Because fifteen years ago he preached a sermon stating what Christians have always believed concerning homosexuality. Justin Taylor pulled together some helpful analyses in follow up.
Also in follow up, Kevin DeYoung published a good example of how to think, feel, and speak as those who are looking to the horizon of a heavenly city. His entire post, “Let Freedom Ring,” is excellent, and so we’ve included it for you here:
On Thursday we learned that an evangelical pastor cannot say a benediction at the Presidential Inauguration because 15 years ago he affirmed the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual behavior. It was a sad day for evangelical Christians. A hard day. A frustrating day.
But let it also be our Independence Day.
Let us be free from the false hope that heroic deeds and quiet agreeableness can atone for the sin of orthodox conviction.
Let us be free from the wishful thinking that good works and good manners can appease the Great God Tolerance.
Let us be free from the misplaced assumption that faithfulness to God can go hand in hand with worldly congratulation.
If it is “anti-gay” to believe that the normativity of male-female sexual union is taught by nature and nature’s God then let us wear a Scarlet Letter around our necks. Christ bore much worse.
If the culture of free love is going to hate those who believe marriage was made with God-given limits then let the opprobrium fall on us. We will despise the shame.
If henceforth we shall be considered the scum of the earth for believing what the Church has taught for 2000 years then let us be the scent of death to some. We shall be the aroma of life to others.
And lest anyone think this is a call to arms or a manifesto of malediction, it is not. If we are reviled, we shall not revile in return. If we are hated we shall pray to God for more love. If we are excluded from polite society, we will still include all Christ-exalting, Bible-believing, broken hearted sinners in the fellowship of the redeemed. And if we are esteemed by some as better off dead, we will not cease to offer the words of life.
We will not stop serving where we can. We will not stop repenting when we sin. We will not stop speaking the truth about our Lord and about his law.
There are likely far bigger disappointments to come than the one that dropped last Thursday. We did not choose this culture war and it is not about to leave us alone. The media, the academy, the government, the libertine elite–they may sully our reputation and shame our convictions, but they cannot steal our joy. We can pray more, sing more, and smile more than any of the party-goers making mud pies in the slums. We do not have to fit in down here so long as we fit in up there. We do not need a president’s approval if we have the affection of our King. Our hearts and our Bibles are wide open. Our salvation is firm. Let freedom ring.
This vision of our ultimate horizon both relaxes us and strengthens us for faithful living. On Sunday, Ryan mentioned five words that capture various unbiblical approaches to our relationship to the world around us. We should not fight the world as an enemy. We should not force the world to live our way. We should not follow the world, as though we will win them by becoming more like them. We don’t flee the world as if Christ sent us into the world to hide from it. And we don’t faint from exhaustion.
We should think carefully and seriously about the changes in our world. The tragic and transformed vision of tolerance ever prevalent in modern society is insightfully unpacked by D.A. Carson in his book, The Intolerance of Tolerance. But even more important is our commitment to live faithfully in these times. That’s what Carson’s short book, From The Resurrection to His Return: Living Faithfully in the last days, is all about. Both are available at the Resource Center.
Finally, for a heavy but helpful read on the subject of the Christian’s relationship to and influence on the world, consider reading, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James Davison Hunter, available on Amazon.