Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘renewal’

No Excuse for Hate

I was having a perfectly wonderful conversation with the Lord a few days ago.  I had been reflecting on some scriptures about revival and spiritual awakening, and I was talking it through with Him.  Then in the middle of that very satisfying quiet time, something awkward and awful happened: I saw my own sin.

Quite unexpectedly the Holy Spirit lifted my spiritual sunglasses and revealed that I have been harboring enmity and bitterness in my life.  I realized that I hate the President of the United States.  In my heart, I suspect he is actually a lonely, frustrated and unhappy individual, but I feel no sympathy or even pity- only resentment.  It was a surprising and humiliating discovery.  I am a hater.

I had noticed that over the last four years I have become more passionate about politics than usual.  In fact, I tend to turn off the TV whenever the President appears.  Sometimes I toss a quick insult at him before flipping the switch, explaining it to myself as “concern for America.”   On numerous occasions, my wife has said, “Honey, you really hate the man.  That’s not healthy.”  But I have always excused my rants and bitterness: “I just hate what he’s doing to the country!”  Sometimes it almost felt like righteous indignation, but it was more complex than that.  I was harboring hatred for the man himself.

Needless to say, I am still concerned that President Obama is wrecking the republic and driving a wedge between Americans. But being unable to countenance someone’s image on TV suggests a great deal of fear.  No matter how malign an opponent’s policies may be; no matter how vast his political influence may be, am I justified in being fearful?  Of course not:  Scripture insists that we should not be afraid of men.  Believers must have confidence in Christ and reverence for his holy purposes.  What kind of spiritual warrior fears what men can do?

I have confessed this sin to the Lord, and  I am genuinely ashamed.  Hatred among the saints is an affront to the Almighty.  In the pulpit, I always attempt to project this transcendental image of ever rising above politics.  But I still worry about what I have privately conveyed to those who know me best.  Most likely, I  have implied that hate is okay when you’re talking about politics.  Of course, that’s not true.

I will need to pray about this for a while, because I’m sure this sin is deeply rooted by now.  It will not be easily removed, but I will be diligent.  I will ask God to help me. In the meantime, I will speak more compassionately about the President and will read his autobiography in hopes of better understanding him.  I will continue support his political opponents and strongly oppose many of his policies and priorities, but I will strive to love him as an individual.  And I will pray for him, something I should have been doing already.

Someone said, “Well, you don’t have to actually love him,” but I do.  Jesus commands us to love enemies as well as friends.  President Obama is a political foe, but he’s still a human being I am commanded to love.  Even if he were violently persecuting the Church, we would be obligated to love him.

Getting too passionate about politics does more than enable me to hate certain people.  It also suggests that I believe what our country really needs is more conservative politicians.  Ha!  What our nation really needs is spiritual renewal and a Christian awakening.  Nothing else can save us.  But that will only come when we in the church stop talking about politics, sports or the bad economy 24/7 and begin to talk to God about our sins and His Vision for our land.

But this is not a rebuke  to the Church by any means.  This is a confession.  There is no excuse for hatred, not even patriotism.

Lift up the Cross!

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The Return of the “M” Word

For a quarter of a century, Americans and other “enlightened” people have avoided words like “moral” and “morality.”  We were lectured that those words were insensitive and restrictive.  We were urged not to try and be the Morality Police.  Suddenly, the world began chasing after “Values” for a while.  First there was “values clarification,” helping kids escape from the limitations of morality.  And later we evolved to “values free”education.  Schools decided it wasn’t their job to teach character or responsibility anyhow!

And now, we have riots in England by mainstream young people who have plenty to eat, lots of leisure time, but no foundations for moral living.  In America, we can watch security video of flash mobs robbing  7-11 or Victoria’s Secret stores!  Now we have liberal  publications like The Economist, wailing in despair.  “It turns out that if sufficient numbers of criminals want to create havoc on the streets, they can,” an editorial concluded after the rioting.  “In the absence of internal moral restraints, external ones can only do so much.”  In other words, a civilized nation can’t hire enough policemen or build enough prisons if most citizens aren’t already controlled by morals from within.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal* last Saturday, a British rabbi  described  the moral decay [his words, not mine] which led to the loss of control in his nation.  He described a generation engulfed by “a tsunami of wishful thinking that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage; children without the responsibility of of parenthood; etc., etc.”  Then he referenced a series of events that “remoralized” America and Great Britain early in the 1800’s.  Then as now, people were moving to the city, respect for authority was receding, the church was declining, unwed pregnancies were climbing, and every village was too familiar with drunkenness and fighting.  One historic event changed all that almost overnight!

The rabbi doesn’t name the historic event, but it was the 2nd Great Awakening!  Christian evangelists crossed the American states and the nation of Britain on horseback, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Worship reached a fever pitch in those English-speaking nations, and the moral fiber of those countries was rebuilt and restored.   The rabbi is calling for another event of those proportions.  May you and I join him in praying for revival in the land, and an awakening among the churches of Jesus Christ.

You will know when the cry for revival is about to reach critical mass.  You’ll know because you and so many others like you will be seeking the Lord, praying in repentance, crying out for fresh wind and fresh fire.  One of the first signs will be a slight uptick in church attendance.  The press won’t report this, but you might notice it in your town, your part of the country.  You’ll notice that Christians are talking about their spiritual lives in public once again.  And soon afterwards, you’ll see the forces of darkness being driven out; powers and principalities of evil being overturned.

Here at Providence, we’re in the midst of 40 days of prayer and fasting leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9-11.  Nineteen radical Muslims shook our nation with four commercial jets and a handful of box cutters.  Now it’s time for the Church to shake the very gates of Hell.  Join us!

And by all means, lift up the cross!

* Wall Street Journal; August 20, 2011; “Reversing the Moral Decay Behind the London Riots” by Lord Sacks.

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