I am becoming increasingly concerned with the attitudes and behaviour of some modern-day Christians and their Churches.
It seems that, as soon as the topics of eternal punishment, love, God, toleration, homosexuality, or any other issue is raised, those who like to think of themselves as modern-day, progressive Christians immediately start out with the approach that “since God is a God of love, He will accept anyone and we must not be bound by our Old Testament-type thinking that He is a God of intolerance, vengeance and judgment.”
Recently I read a conversation that started off with someone berating one Church for following the New Testament teaching that the model God has set for Christians is that male leadership reflects the glory of God.
Immediately, instead of pointing out the Biblical approach to this issue, the modern, know-it-all Christians began to support that person and declare that “God is not like that, He doesn’t condemn anyone, He loves us all, etc, etc”. Such an attitude does nothing to set the complainant straight, but rather confirms them in their own ignorance.
Does God Love Us?
Of course He does, John 3:16 makes that clear, the Gospels make it clear, Paul’s writings all make it crystal clear. Even the Old Testament makes it clear – Isaiah 63:9 says for example,
“In His love and mercy He redeemed them…”
But this is where many modern-day Christians have become unstuck. Many of them only see the word “love” in that little extract. But what about the mercy of God? The mercy of God is shown because He has redeemed us. Don’t they understand that we needed to be redeemed because of our rebellion against Him?
I believe it is clear that they don’t understand the nature of sin and rebellion against God when they emphasise to the unsaved “God loves us all”, “He will abundantly pardon”, etc. This is making light of the voluntary sacrifice Jesus made on behalf of us all.
We are all rebellious, we are all sinners; the only way out of our desperate predicament which will end in eternal separation from God (horrible thought) is to accept the antidote God has provided – the loving sacrifice of substitution made by the God-man Jesus Christ – the immortal for the mortal – if only we would believe it, and access it freely.
Being selective with the words of Jesus and the Apostles, leaving aside their many references to God’s judgment on sinners and His patience and His mercy does nothing to encourage a sinner to turn to Him.
Persecution and Church Growth
The early Christians were subject to empire-wide persecution, and the more the Christians were persecuted the more they grew and spread. This same phenomenon is helping to spread Christianity throughout the Middle East and other countries reporting widespread persecution of the followers of Christ.
The ongoing Syrian crisis has seen Christians become increasingly
persecuted as extreme Islamist elements seek to purge the region of Christianity.
Though many Syrians have had to leave the country or have been internally displaced, there has also been the positive outcome of an increased growth in the number of people who have converted to Christ in the deplorable situation of the civil war.
Christian workers are reporting real conversions, with Syrian Muslims showing a surprising openness to hear the gospel, read the Bible, and come to faith in Christ.
It is becoming clear that missions like Barnabas Fund, emphasising prayer and giving, are having a positive effect in the crisis, which leads us to give thanks to God in all things and encourages us to continue to give and pray.
The Christian Difference
Christian workers have observed a huge difference in the lives of the Syrians who become followers of Jesus, and this change is evidenced by a notable change in their behavior:
• They read the Bible in their own language, even when people from the church are not around.
• They prepare questions for their pastors.
• They give up some habits in their lives, like drugs and lying.
• They make professions of faith, knowing full well that the decision to follow Christ under the circumstances could have dire consequences.
• They attend church and get involved in church activities.
• They desire to study the Bible and memorize it.
• They are willing to share their faith with others and talk about Jesus and His miracles in their lives.
• They let their children join Bible lessons and are involved in the children’s programs, reading and doing Bible homework.
• They desire to obey the Lord in baptism and in sharing the Lord’s Supper.
What a lesson for us all.
Are We Like The Syrian Christians?
What about us? Are we willing and active in doing the things the Syrian Christians are doing?
In our country where persecution is more subtle, or more insidious because of government regulations and evil laws,
are we acting openly as Christians or do we prefer to hide away to avoid trouble?
How much time per week do we spend on prayer, Bible study, or actively talking about our faith?
I believe the Syrian Christians are putting Australian Christians to shame. Remember Jesus said:
“Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” [Rev. 2:10].