Intolerable Tolerance

2 Corinthians 11:3-4

11 But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treacheryyour minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimedor if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you acceptedyou put up with it well enough!

1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Matthew 24:4

“And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.”
Ephesians 5:6

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

One thing that tops the chart for me as something I detest is being lied to.  We can excuse deceptive behavior by calling it a white lie or giving it a righteous spin by saying it protects the one being deceived, but it is far more painful to discover the truth later on than to face the truth from the beginning.

Lies have a way of growing over time and the harm done to the deceived multiplies in intensity, as well.  Deception is evil, yet we can play a role in willingly allow it without noticing and the church can be one of the most affected.

We do not want to be judgmental, but we can be lulled into lies by believing the best in the name of grace – without discernment.  The religion of tolerance has slipped into the church and mouths are silenced by the theme of acceptance to all.  This might at first blush seem exclusive, until we see that there are absolutes in God’s Word.  Living in a relativistic world where anything goes allows evil to thrive silently.

God will grant us wisdom to recognize false doctrines if we ask Him.  Motivation to be purposeful in discernment concerning the newest revelation comes from a desire to maintain a pure devotion to Christ.  To “put up” with false beliefs is to accept them.  Over time the convictions we held can be replaced by whitewashed “enlightened” viewpoints if we aren’t careful to hold on firmly to the true Gospel.

We are not called to be pious, self righteous or judgmental, as we are reminded that we have blind spots, too.  But we are not called to compromise, either, in the name of grace.  Grace is undeserved favor, but it does not placate or permit someone to remain in sin.  Finding balance between abusing grace in the name of liberal freedom and strict adherence to fundamentalism that imposes expectations beyond the written word is challenging, but not impossible.

No one has perfect doctrine, but we all continue to grow in our understanding and relationship with God.  Some beliefs we have held onto need to be debunked if they do not line up with the Word of God and some need to be held onto tenaciously.  God is faithful to speak to us through His Holy Spirit and to guide us into all truth.  We have a choice whether we are going to allow ourselves to be deceived or be like the Bereans, searching out God’s truth.

The church needs to speak the truth with grace.  May we endeavor to do so passionately, but never let go of love in the process.  If the church becomes just like the world in the name of tolerance, we lose our effectiveness and souls, as well.

Lord, forgive us for our lackadaisical compromise.  We are so needful of You to open our eyes to see our own hypocrisy. Wake us up to zealously cling to Your Word and help us to not tolerate sin but to love the sinner.

Worshipful Wednesday: What We Wear in His Presence

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Psalm 29:2

“Acknowledge the majesty of the LORD’s reputation! Worship the LORD in holy attire!”

1 Timothy 2:9

“Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing,”

1 Corinthians 6:20

“For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.”

Deuteronomy 22:5

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for anyone who does this is offensive to the LORD your God.”

Revelation 19:8

She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).

The church has become not just relevant today, but casual and cool.  The uniform can include ripped jeans or revealing clothing, and it’s all fine before our forgiving, accepting God.  Or is it?  If I were to go before a King, how would I dress? How is this applied before a King in Whose presence we are in continually?

I fear that this post today can be taken as legalism or liberality.  Yes, I like to examine both sides of an issue.  There is liberty in Christ, but what do we use that freedom for?  There is forgiveness, but do we abuse that lavish gift by not recognizing the magnitude of such a sacrifice?  The application of this principle of modesty is multiple and varied across denominations.  Some espouse that a woman must wear a head covering or specify the exact articles of clothing that are mandated or approved, while others think it is permissible to dress to be “hot”.  Some clothing specifications are what man requires and some standards are needed by organizations – but what does God require?

Establishing specific rules of clothing can be heaping false righteousness onto what God’s standards are.  I have been there – admittedly, I felt self-righteous when I used to wear my gunny/potato sack dresses.  Add to that the nerdy clogs to go with the dress and bingo – I was holy!  Well, the outward might have been perceived as holy by some people’s standards, but the judgmental attitude toward others might not have been so holy.

Don’t get me wrong – God does have a standard for clothing.  The Scriptures above testify to it.  The principles are spelled out, but we can add or subtract to those principles and attempt to condone our decisions in what we wear by either utilizing the “Legalistic” or the “freedom in Christ” doctrines.  We can think we have a right to dress in a worldly way or the opposite extreme – that we must dress like a monk, and miss the point entirely.  The righteous person avoids all extremes.

What we wear matters to God, because often underneath our decisions of what we wear is a heart issue.  It is not the outward that God looks on, but the inner man.  More than our daily choices, He wants our hearts surrendered to Him. When we make our clothing a matter of focusing merely on the outward and become judgmental of others, who in faith wear jeans, for instance, we are no longer operating in grace.  We have made clothing our righteousness.  Each one of us answers to God alone in our decisions in this life.  Yes, every deed, every word, every motive will be weighed by Him alone.

What are we to wear then?  Common sense and a sensitive heart to the LORD consider how to promote purity.  Style is irrelevant to ensuring our undergarments remain underneath our attire and our private parts are, well, kept private.  When in doubt, don’t.  Pray about it – yes, even small matters can pose a stumbling block to others.  Can we let go of the need to wear something ungodly when our pride, seeking attention or fitting in are obviously the motivations?  If we go before Him honestly, He will lead us.  Will we follow?  He who is faithful in small matters will be faithful with much.

When we come before a Holy God, Who is the King of kings, more than our clothing we should wear gratitude and praise for our King and rise above the culture’s emphasis on the outward. In fact, even choosing what we wear is worship when we acknowledge Him and dress in a way to please Him.

Ultimately, we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness and want to honor Him.  If we are His ambassadors, we want to dress in a way that displays him to the world.  Different, maybe, but I do not want to cheapen His majesty.  We are arrayed in the most beautiful covering of all – Christ.

Lord, may our actions and decisions within this culture we live in always be about glorifying You.  May we speak, act and dress in a manner worthy of You.

Thoughtful Thursday: Christmas Countdown day 4 – It Only Takes One

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Ecclesiastes 9:18-10:1

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner can destroy much that is good.”  10:1 “One dead fly makes the perfumer’s ointment give off a rancid stench, so a little folly can outweigh much wisdom.”

It always astounds me that it can only take one dissenter to bring about chaos and destroy something good.  A small percentage of a population can speak louder and change what the majority voted on.  How is this able to happen?  Passion.  Activism.  Devotion.  Leadership . . . and pressing on despite it not being popular.

We admire when people accomplish great things when the odds are against them, but much more admirable are deeds done in righteousness than the wicked prevailing.  A liberal agenda will not bring about the freedom it’s followers desire, but they still passionately fight for what they believe is right.  Now more than ever the righteous must not let their voices be silenced.  Our nation needs us more now than ever.  It will not be popular to hold ground and try to turn the tide back, but it is possible.  Your voice matters.  Make it count for righteousness.  It only takes one to begin to make a change.

Only One could pay for the sin debt of all mankind.  He was not popular, but He knew His mission and completed it, despite much opposition.  He changed this world forever – not just for a generation.  This Christmas may we remember what Christ did for us and all mankind.  May we all honor God with our lives and affect this society for His glory.  It only takes one.  Shine brightly in this generation – there is no other voice just like yours – it is needed now.

The song, “This Little Child” by Scott Wesley Brown, written in the late 70’s is so very fitting in our times.  I end today’s post with lyrics contained within the second verse:

“And over half the world is starving While our banner of decency is torn;
Debating over disarmament, Killing children before they’re born.
And fools who march to win the right to justify their sin.
Oh ev’ry nation that has fallen Has fallen from within
Yet in the midst of this darkness There is a hope a light that burns
This little child the King of kings Some day will return.”

Hear and see the lyrics to the complete song here:

Lord, help us to shine for You brighter and brighter.  May we not cover or hide the light You have placed in us and boldly stand for truth and for Your glory.