Posts Tagged ‘Christian values’

2 Samuel 8:1-18
David’s Military Victories

In today’s passage, David is gaining in popularity among the people. They just loved him for all the military victories and acclaim that he was bringing to the nation of Israel. David’s following of God here was pretty easy. Doing God’s will is fun and easy when it gains you acclaim and popularity amidst the culture in which you live, right? It’s a sweet spot to be in, for sure! But was that acclaim, that acceptance what motivated David? Being accepted by the culture, was that what motivated David? Although David was a man occasionally susceptible to personal pride that led him to do things that hurt his kingship severely, for the most part, David was a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). After thinking about what motivated David throughout his days is a question that I think we must ask ourselves today as well. What motivates us to follow Jesus Christ? Is for the acclaim that it can bring us within Christian circles like David here who is gaining great popularity among his people? Or do we follow Jesus Christ even when it makes us unpopular and we are all alone as a result? What’s our motivation?

In this day in which we live it is becoming increasingly more difficult to stand on your Christian convictions. The biblical values upon which we stand are no longer the norm. In fact, biblical values often stand in direct opposition to the common values of society. We are certainly in opposition to the prevailing values of society today when it comes to sexual relationships. Our society today condones serial heterosexuality (having sex with as many partners as possible in one lifetime) and it condones homosexuality as right and normal and a brand of sexuality that should be supported and even encouraged. We are often in opposition to the prevailing values of society in other areas of life as well such as the common belief that all roads lead to heaven and as long as you believe in something as a guide to your life’s values that you will experience a nirvana-like afterlife. You name it, we as Christ followers are now more often than not seen as old-fashioned, restrictive, and closed-minded. We are seen as in opposition to all “the progress” that society is making toward an egalitarian society where everything is acceptable.

The Christian church and Christ followers are at a crossroads here in the first quarter of the 21st century. We must decide if we want to ride along with society or return to the days where persecution of Christians was a common thing in the centuries before Christianity became an institution condoned by the Roman Empire. Do we have the guts now to stand on biblical values when it is in direct opposition to the prevailing sentiments in society? How Christian will most of us be when it is no longer neutral or to our advantage to say, “I’m a Christ follower!”? How many of us will be willing to publicly attend church if we were to be arrested or lose our jobs if seen there? How far are you and I willing to take this Christ follower thing? Are you willing to die for Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be imprisoned because you believe in Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be tortured for not renouncing the name of Jesus Christ? We can say that it will never happen here, but right now if you think that you are like the frog in a pot of hot water where the heat is ever so slowly being turned up. The frog will stay in the water with the slow increase in temperature to the point that the water is boiling and he dies. Right now, we are seeing the beginnings of persecution in the United States for those who have values different from the political correctness of our age.

Just think of all the people that have lost their careers, have been publicly vilified in the press and social media, just because they came out in opposition to alternative sexual lifestyles. Just think of the firestorm that was created nationally and internationally when the State of North Carolina passed “bathroom bill” which was to counteract the ordinance passed by the City of Charlotte that said a person could use whatever public restroom that they identified with rather than what their anatomy indicated. North Carolina had concerts, conventions, and even businesses that pulled out of the state because of the firestorm over the prohibitive law passed at the state level to counteract a city level ordinance. The people of North Carolina were branded as backwards and homophobic for allowing such a law to be passed. The pressure was intense. It went as far as the Atlantic Coast Conference (a collegiate athletic conference) whose headquarters from its inception in 1953 has been in Greensboro, NC saying that it would pull all of its championship games and/or tournaments from the state until North Carolina buckled. Everybody jumped on the bandwagon to condemn North Carolina. Entertainers who had been to the state numerous times over their careers all of a sudden withdrew concerts. It was the classic case of joining the crowd regardless of whether you had any skin in the game or not. Now, of course, it led North Carolina to ultimately rescind the law and people think North Carolina is OK again.

What is the next thing that Christians will have to endure as the heat in the pot slowly rises? Are you and I going to be quiet and say when we gather with our fellow Christ followers that the world is no longer the place it once was for us, but as soon as we step into society, we get quiet or we ultimately conform our beliefs to that of society just so we won’t have to suffer the fate of the State of North Carolina over “the bathroom bill”. What’s the next thing? I see it coming now and it is illegal immigration. I see Facebook posts condemning Christians for supporting the position of the Trump Administration of enforcing immigration laws even if it means the separating of families. The issue is one that brings out emotions of the highest order just as the North Carolina “bathroom bill” did.

So, what does the Bible say about those who enter a country illegally? What should be the Christian response to illegal aliens or illegal immigrants and toward those who condone illegal immigration? What about the kids of immigrants who entered this country in a manner that is against the long-established laws of the land? Should they have to pay for the illegal activities of their parents just as with any other crime committed in our country? Do we want to be seen as being OK with separating families (even though it happens daily with social services departments around the country)? This is the next hot-button issue for the culture. What is your position? Have you consulted God’s Word or would you rather just not be one of the people being vilified in the press and just go along with the prevailing sentiment of the culture?

Christians are struggling with this issue and we must consult God’s Word on it before we join the crowd or stand against it. We must understand what God’s Word says about the laws of the lands in which we live. We must understand what God’s Word says about when we can deviate from the law of the land. We must understand what God’s Word says about compassion and mercy and land in the place that is fully biblical in our response. It is the next battlefield where we must choose.

It is the next battlefield where we must study God’s Word and respond in the way that God desires for us even if that position might well be in opposition to the culture. We must study God’s Word now and pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us as to what our proper response might be to this 21st century American issue. What will you and I do this time if the Holy Spirit leads us to a conclusion that is in opposition to the prevailing sentiment of society. Will we be the frog in the pot of water where the temporary is rising ever so slowly and just go along, say nothing, and just try to get along? Or will we act on the conclusion that the Holy Spirit leads us toward even if it means that we are publicly vilified for having an opposing opinion to the culture’s desires?

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning – how the days are coming when we must decide to honor God or honor society. In this passage, we see that David was becoming increasingly popular with the people of Israel. However, they were enamored with his success. David was not doing things to be popular with the people though. He was doing what he did to satisfy and please God. That’s the point of my blog this morning – will we have what it takes when we have to decide whether to please God or please the culture? Let’s read the passage, 2 Samuel 8:1-18, now:

Chapter 8

1After this, David defeated and subdued the Philistines by conquering Gath, their largest town.[a] 2 David also conquered the land of Moab. He made the people lie down on the ground in a row, and he measured them off in groups with a length of rope. He measured off two groups to be executed for every one group to be spared. The Moabites who were spared became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money.

3 David also destroyed the forces of Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when Hadadezer marched out to strengthen his control along the Euphrates River. 4 David captured 1,000 chariots, 7,000 charioteers,[b] and 20,000 foot soldiers. He crippled all the chariot horses except enough for 100 chariots.

5 When Arameans from Damascus arrived to help King Hadadezer, David killed 22,000 of them. 6 Then he placed several army garrisons in Damascus, the Aramean capital, and the Arameans became David’s subjects and paid him tribute money. So the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

7 David brought the gold shields of Hadadezer’s officers to Jerusalem, 8 along with a large amount of bronze from Hadadezer’s towns of Tebah[c] and Berothai.

9 When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to congratulate King David for his successful campaign. Hadadezer and Toi had been enemies and were often at war. Joram presented David with many gifts of silver, gold, and bronze.

11 King David dedicated all these gifts to the Lord, as he did with the silver and gold from the other nations he had defeated— 12 from Edom,[d] Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek—and from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 So David became even more famous when he returned from destroying 18,000 Edomites[e] in the Valley of Salt. 14 He placed army garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became David’s subjects. In fact, the Lord made David victorious wherever he went.

15 So David reigned over all Israel and did what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was commander of the army. Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was the royal historian. 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelech son of Abiathar were the priests. Seraiah was the court secretary. 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was captain of the king’s bodyguard.[f] And David’s sons served as priestly leaders.[g]

In this passage, David pleased the people not because he tried to please them. They were enamored with the results of his military campaigns. However, David’s purpose was not necessarily to please the people but rather pleasing God. Often, those who try hardest to become popular never make it. From David, we learn that we should never devise ways to become accepted and popular in the public eye. Instead, we should strive to do what is right and what is honoring to God.

Lord, help us to be a people that takes the pulse of the Bible as our guide to respond to the world around us rather than taking the pulse of culture. Let us seek your approval and your smile toward us rather than trying to fit in to the culture. May we try to please you only. May we be a people that will take pleasing you as our main priority even if what we do in that regard is in opposition to the culture. Help us not to cave into the culture even if it means that we will be vilified, persecuted or even killed for it.

Amen and Amen.

Romans 13:1-7 — Obedience to authority. Wow, this passage is a tough one. In a day and age where governments seem to be growing more and more hostile to Christian values, this one is a really tough one. What is Paul really saying to us here.

First, I think that Paul is saying that we should not be the origin of disobedience or evil in society. As Christ followers, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard than that of general society. We should obey the laws of our society whenever possible. We should not blatantly disobey laws for our own advantage. For example, we should pay our taxes and be honest in preparing our tax returns of any kind. We should apply Christian principles in our dealings with one another and with our government at whatever level. We should apply God’s law and Christian values in our day to day living and in our dealing with governments. May it never be said of us Christ followers that we are not open, honest, and transparent in our dealings with society at large or with our government. The hallmark of Christian character has to be integrity. Thus, we should not be examples of those who simply disobey the law because it is to our advantage, or that we are lazy, or that we might gain some edge by not obeying the law.

Second, I think it is a call to us to do more than complain about our government. If we as Christians are so dissatisfied with government and its policies, let’s mobilize and elect leaders who have Christian values. Let’s mobilize and run for office at the local, regional, state, and national levels. You see all over Facebook how my fellow Christians and often myself decry the loss of values in our nation. We often decry that our society has gone to crap. We often decry how our elected officials are doing wrong and we act like they were magically appointed over us. We talk about they instead of us. We act has if we had played no part in electing officials. We take this detached view that “they” are taking our rights away, “they” are abridging my freedoms. How did “they” get into this position? They were elected. They were not appointed. We, as in the general populous, elected them. We act like people in Washington are this evil dictatorship, but they were ELECTED by us. It is time for us as Christians to engage our society. We are not giving them any alternatives than dirty rotten scoundrels. We are not running for office. We are just sitting back and complaining and allowing evil to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we don’t take this thing seriously, our rights will be abridged. If we don’t influence government from the inside, how can we sit here and complain about same-sex marriage, about lost freedoms, about the expansion of government into areas not intended by the constitution. If we don’t run for office in droves at all levels, we cannot change the direction of our government. It is not a they thing. It is a lack of options for our voters. Let’s return our government to Christian values by being city councilmen, by being commissioners, by being county councilmen, by being mayor, by being state representatives, by being state senators, by being governor, by being senators, by being president. Let us give the voters alternatives. Without alternatives, voters have a choice between two immoral and non-Christian candidates, what do you think our government is going to look like. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you are going to keep getting what you get. If we as Christians are doing nothing, how do we expect the government to change. We can no longer sit in our ivory towers and decry what is happening to our government. We must do more than sit behind our fences and comment on society. We must get out there an actively change it for the better. Talk. Talk. Talk. It is just that. Action. Action. Action not words!

Finally, if government has gone too far and abuses its power and is oppressive. If it has gone too far and we are not able to change it from within. What then? Do we obey governments when they are killing their own citizens. Do we obey governments when they are imprisoning people for no reason and without trial? Do we hand over sermons to a city government that disagrees with our opposition to their gay agenda? Do we obey that which is blatantly evil. As we see in my writing here, there are progressive levels. We are not to create anarchy ourselves. We should never be the origin of the reasons to disobey government. Next, if we don’t like our government we should change it and influence it from the inside. What if none of that works. What if being Christian involves being imprisoned and persecuted for no other reason than being Christian? What if we find ourselves living under a dictator who is hell bent on raping his country and oppressing his people for his own personal gain and preservation. In these cases, I think Paul expects to hold ourselves to God’s standards in how we act ourselves. I think Paul expects us to measure our governments in this way, too. If governments are disrespecting basic human dignity, disrepecting human rights, treating people as if they are not made in the image of God by treating them like vermin, killing them if they do deny their faith in Jesus Christ, we must oppose governments. We must do so in peaceful ways however. We must be willing to be martyrs for our beliefs. We must not return evil with evil. We must be willing to die rather renounce Jesus. Maybe, through our willingness to die for Jesus’ name brings glory to God and brings change to society. Martin Luther King and Gandhi changed their worlds more with their peaceful protests and principled action that by anything the Black Panthers here or Indian militants there ever did. We stand firm. We help others who are oppressed. We do so through peaceful means. We hold to our Christian values even if it means imprisonment or death. We do not meet violence with violence. We do not initiate violence to get what we want. Jesus changed the entire world without a gun or a spear. That should be how we change society – with the love of Jesus.

Father, help me never to be the origin of evil in my society. Help me to have integrity and display it in everything that I do especially in front of non-believers. May my integrity in a world that is generally without it be a witness to the unsaved as to what Christians are all about. Help me too Father to quit complaining about the direction of my nation’s government at all levels and do something about it from the inside. Further, Father, please help me to never compromise my faith in your Son just to survive. Help me to stand firm in my faith and never cave in before those who would kill me for not renouncing my faith. Help me to hold fast to your Word daily as governments slowly try to chip away at Christian values. Help those who are currently suffering oppressive regimes. Help me to be motivated to help them. It is in the name of your precious Son, Jesus Christ, that I pray this prayer. Amen.