Souls in the Balance: Why We Can’t Withdraw From A World That Clearly Is Shaking Its Fist at God!

Posted: June 30, 2015 in 46-1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 9:18-23 — There is no time greater than now for me to run across this passage of 1 Corinthians 18-23. We have such great controversy in our land. Paul provides sound, eternal advice. We must keep our eye on the ball. There are eternal consequences for those who do not have reverent awe for God. However, it is our job to carry out the commission that Jesus Christ gave us. Even if you are filled with great sorrow at the path our world seems to be headed down, we still have work to do. If we are to love like Jesus, and live like Jesus, and leave disciples behind like Jesus, then we must get to our work of bringing the gospel message of Jesus Christ to a world who needs Him now more than ever. Buckle up your bootstraps soldiers of Christ, we cannot give up.

There are several principles that Paul teaches us in this passage, the first of which is to find common ground. Instead of withdrawing behind fences and finding our safe upper room, we must engage our culture now more than ever. We must find ways to engage those who thumb there nose at God’s Word currently. We must find ways to encounter them that demonstrates the love of Jesus Christ toward them. For those that hate people simply because of the color of their skin, let us find common ground with them so that we can engage them where they are at. We must engage them with Scripture to demonstrate that we are called to love others not hate them. We must demonstrate how Jesus did not think twice about sitting down with people who were considered taboo by society. Jesus never compromised on issues of sin but He never wrote anyone off either. We must find common ground with non-heterosexuals. We must engage them at what they believe they are fighting for – freedom to be who they believe they are. We must engage that issue from a gospel perspective. Jesus would have sat down with homosexuals and reasoned with them from Scripture and demonstrated to them how God loves them and wants what’s best for them and demonstrate from a loving gospel perspective how this behavior is against God’s plan not because they are inherently evil but rather because a loving God desires for us not to go down paths that He knows are destructive for us. We must engage not withdraw. We must find common ground. If we withdraw from the world in which we have been placed by God, we are failing at our commission. We must change the world from the inside out. We cannot change the world standing on the sidelines throwing our hands up in disgust.

We must also avoid the temptation for spiritual arrogance. In today’s world, where biblical illiteracy is at an all time high, it is easy to come at the world with an “I get it but you don’t attitude.” To be truly a Christ follower, when we read the Bible with objective eyes it is clear that the unrepentant practice of sin is against the will of God. To say that practicing homosexuality is not a sin ignores the plain truth of the Bible. You cannot reconcile the practice of sin with the love of a just God. The unrepentant practice of any sexual activity outside the marriage of a man and a woman is simply inconsistent with the commands of Scripture, both in the Old and the New Testaments. To hate homosexuals is wrong but to give Scriptural integrity to the practice of homosexuality is inconsistent with the clear directives of God in Scripture. In such situations where fellow Christians want to play both sides of the street on this issue, it is easy for us to become spiritually arrogant. To those outside the faith that ignore or twist Scripture to get it to say things that support their lifestyle, it is easy to become spiritually arrogant. We can easily think we have the corner on the market of God’s Word. When you are a student of the Word, you can easily become spiritually arrogant toward those who clearly do not understand Scripture, those that believe the Bible says things that it does not, and become particularly arrogant toward those falsely say that the Bible says this thing but it is clear that they have not ever studied or even read the Bible. Let us avoid this type of arrogance. Unless you are among the lucky few that were saved by grace as a child, many of us were in the same boats as the people we may have a sense of spiritual arrogance toward now. You and were one ignorant of the Word. You and I once thumbed our nose up at God when living lifestyles ourselves that were clearly in contradiction to Scripture. We justified it by making the Bible say what we wanted it to say if we gave the Bible any credence at all. We all once did our best to find inconsistencies in Scripture so as to invalidate it and thereby let ourselves off the hook for our sin-filled lives. Arrogance has no influence. Only love does. We must combat our spiritual arrogance and engage those who thumb their nose at God proudly in the public square. We must also guide and love our fellow Christians who try to reconcile the ungodly with the godly just so they will be considered mainstream. Ivory tower Christianity is the easy answer. Loving, teaching, guiding, instructing is dirty and messy but it is our job to win the world to Christ. Arrogance has no place.

When we lose our arrogance over what others do not know about God’s Word, it allows us to be sensitive to the world around us. As I said earlier, we were once shaking our fists at God ourselves. We must be sensitive to those who do not understand God’s justice as well as His love. We must be sensitive that the world teaches us that we are our own gods. The world takes great pains to teach you and me that the way I live my life should be left alone. The world tells us that I am the aribiter of what’s right and what’s wrong for me! The world tells us that we determine our own morality. We must be sensitive to that worldly view. Submitting to God requires that we radically change our mindset. We must be sensitive to there being a lack of understanding that there are moral absolutes defined by God. We must be sensitive to the lack of understanding that God exists, that He created the universe, that none of this is random, that God has a plan for each of us, that God has expectations of us. In a world that has forgotten God and seeks after only its desires, we must be sensitive to how common and widespread these worldly beliefs are. We must seek God’s guidance on how to penetrate and engage this me-only world in which we find ourselves.

Why should we find common ground? Why should we lose our spiritual arrogance? Why should we be sensitive to the worldly attitudes of today’s culture? To fit in and become part of it? No. Paul says why he utilized his Jewish scholarly background to speak to the Jews. Paul says why he utilized his understanding of Greek and Roman culture to speak to the Greeks and Romans. He met people right where they were at in their life so that he could have the opportunity to speak of Jesus Christ. We must engage the non-believers in their lives. We must get messy with them in their mess. We must get down in the trenches with them. We must demonstrate to them that our lives are just as messy as theirs but that we find our hope and our eternal destiny in Jesus Christ. Now is not the time for us to withdraw our ivory towers and wash our hands of the world that we know is blatantly shaking its fist at God. We must engage. We must get out there. We must get to know the world not shun it. We must do this to have opportunities to speak of Jesus Christ. Jesus never promised that our job as Christ followers was going to be easy. And it is easy to want to withdraw right now. We must press on. This is a fight that is worth fighting. This is a race worth running. There are souls in the balance. Do you really want anyone to spend eternity separated from God in hell?

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