What Can We Preach to Orlando?

OrlandoAs you can see, the tweets are quite positively against Christianity in the wake of the Orlando night club massacre. It is truly amazing how a Muslim can pull the trigger, but Christianity takes the blame. But alas, Jesus said the world would hate His followers because the world first hated Him, and still does (John 15:17-19). The hatred the Left is pouring out on Christians is the same hatred that Muslims have for Christians. What the two groups do not realize is that spiritually, both groups are in the same camp. They share the same father.

Yet, what are we to make of such rants against preaching and praying for those in Orlando? Are we to listen to such charges? Satan would love to keep us silent on the entire ordeal, as would those who belong to him by nature of their rebellious hearts against the living and true God of the Bible. But what can we preach?

The most loving thing any pastor can and should do is preach what God’s word declares. Simply put, all are under God’s wrath and condemnation until they repent and trust in Christ for salvation. We find this truth just a few verses past the most famous verse in the Bible, He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).

John is always very black and white, which is one of the reasons I like his gospel so much. A person either repents and believes in Christ for salvation, forgiveness of sins, and is saved, or they do not believe and remain under God’s condemnation. This means, they are still bound for hell. This is true for all sinners, gay sinners who lead a life of abomination (Leviticus 18:22, abomination is God’s word [not ours], His declaration concerning homosexuality), and even heterosexual sinners living outside the boundaries of His Law. In other words, all those straight men and women who love the hook-up scene so much, are just as much under God’s wrath as gays are.

I think this is one reason why so many people are fighting for the false right of gays to be gay. We all fundamentally know that gays, and their acts, are far more sinful than the sinful acts of the straight man and woman living in sexual sin. So we point to that sin which is worse than our own to make us feel better about our sin. Yet both sins condemn us equally before a perfect and holy God.

Given this, we are to preach that sin is sin and all are sinners who remain under His condemnation and wrath unless we repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. This is the most loving thing anyone can do because through Christ there is forgiveness for the sins of the abominable type, and the sins that are not quite so abominable but still just as damning. It is a matter of eternal consequence.

Given that reality, do we really love someone who is in sin when we do not warn them of the wrath to come on judgment day? Is it really loving to allow them to remain temporarily in their wickedness, only to face eternal damnation? By eternal damnation, I mean living under God’s wrath for eternity in the fires of hell where the worm never ceases, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth? (Side note: remember it is Christ who tells us about the terrible realities of hell more than anyone else in the bible. He does so because, being the Creator of heaven and earth, He knows that He created hell for Satan and his demons. See Matthew 25:41 and realize that these are Christ’s words, not ours.)

All this to say, do we let gays, and wicked straight people continue on in their sin, or do we call them to repentance and pray for the Spirit to move in their hearts of stone? Given the power of the gospel to change men’s hearts, and thereby their eternal destiny, do we sit silently by, as so many are calling us to do, while they continue on the broad path to destruction?

I guess we could take the attitude that, “OK, I’m saved, and my family is saved, so too bad, so sad for the gays and the rest of the country!” But again, is that truly loving?

Do gays really want to come into our congregations and “feel” welcomed, have us change the message of the gospel, so that they “feel” welcomed and “feel” loved without any regard to truth? I know that many gays would probably answer in the affirmative. If that is the case, then there is no hope for the salvation of those who would ask for that. The gospel demands not only the declaration of the risen Savior, but the recognition that we all are in need of being “saved.”

The other aspect of the rants against Christianity, in the wake of something that a Muslim did, is that call that we are being inconsistent in preaching the sinfulness of the LGBTQ lifestyle and still praying for those in that lifestyle.

Emily Joy, on Facebook, wrote the following:

Tell everyone you know.

UPDATE 6/13/2016: I’m getting a lot of comments that say things like, “Actually you can preach that gay people are going to hell AND pray for the people in Orlando” and I wanted to clarify.
Yes you CAN believe that being gay is a sin and pray for the Orlando victims. You CAN do anything you want.

The point is not that you literally can’t pray (or even that you shouldn’t, if you are so inclined).

The point is that doing both of those things in a single breath is inconsistent.
The point is that language matters and our words mean things, and so when you perpetuate violence against LGBTQ persons by preaching that they are going to hell, then turn around and are saddened and surprised when someone carries out that violence physically, it doesn’t make much sense. When you preach a sermon on Sunday calling homosexuality an “abomination” then turn around and hashtag ‪#‎prayersfororlando‬, your prayers ring hollow, because if any one of those victims had walked into your church that morning they would not have been welcome—or, if they were welcomed, they still would eventually have been told that they needed to change something fundamental to their personhood in order to be fully loved and accepted. THAT is the problem, and that is the point. Pray, yes. But don’t actively contribute to the harm of LGBTQ persons with your theology and your behavior and then think that prayer for their souls makes up for it.

She states that when we preach, we are preaching violence against the LGBTQ crowd. In one sense, she is correct. The gospel is violence to the unbeliever, both those among the LGBTQ crowd and the likes of Emily Joy. For in declaring the gospel, we are calling for change in everyone who hears the gospel. Everyone needs a fundamental change, that does harm our personhood, as Joy points out. But the harm and violence that comes to us in conversion it far better for us than the harm and violence we will face eternally in hell under God’s wrath.

Through the gospel, we are called to die to ourselves and live unto Christ. This goes against our very fallen nature, whether we are gay, straight, or ignorant of our sexual bias. This is exactly why Jesus proclaimed, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And to emphasize the point, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5).

What Jesus is calling for is a change in who we are. This change is brought about by the Holy Spirit and is completely outside of our ability. This is why preaching the gospel of Christ is so vital for the hope of the non-believer and believer alike. The gospel, that declaration of His life, death, and resurrection to the fallen world, is the power unto salvation (Romans 1:17). It is the message that needs to be declared because it shows us that we are sinners in need of a Savior, in need of a new heart, and in need of faith itself.

The moment this change takes place in us we become new creations in Christ. At that point, we are at odds with our sin. For the first time in our lives, as new creations in Christ, we finally have the option not to sin. Before that change took place we were slaves to sin. The sin nature we so cling to before conversion is actually our master. But through conversion, we are freed from that master. He still works in us, but the war has been won. (Think of the D-Day invasion during WWII. The war had been won, but there were still many battles to fight).

That is how it is for someone who has been converted. The sin they now commit they hate because God hates it and condemns it. Yet, in Christ, there is now no condemnation, for the sin we still struggle with has been paid for on the cross. This does not mean we can be converted and remain in our sin. John writes against this possibility in 1 John, and Paul tells us, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:5-8).

The point is that this change is violence against our sin nature. But not having the change come about, leads to even greater violence against our personhood, on an eternal level.

Therefore, the most loving thing we can do, is continue to preach the gospel in the face of hostile opposition, knowing that the crowds clamoring for our silence will hate us and Christ, as He said would be the case. Yet, we are called to be obedient to His word, not compliant to so many naysayers in the twitter world. We must preach the gospel and not be swayed by the misguided opinions of the world.

Advertisements

9 thoughts on “What Can We Preach to Orlando?

  1. Hi Timothy,

    I made the foolish mistake of underestimating the response to respectfully objecting to an online display of the rainbow flag on a nonpolitical blog.

    From the violence of the responses, it’s clear that few of the people who responded read what I had written. A few even told me that my opinions “were not worth discussing or considering” and that “I am the problem”. The level of hate honestly shocks me. In my arrogance there’s a part of me that still thinks, “I’m a good lovable guy” and is dismayed by the hatred God tells us will come to us because we belong to him.

    Now part of the response is due to my own clumsiness. In other words, I asked for it by naively thinking that we still lived in a society where people listened to each other and wanted to get along. But the bigger part is the realization that we have truly crossed into the days of Lot.

    You know what? It vexes me to be surrounded by filthy behavior and public service announcements that say things like, “YOU HAVE THE RIGHT IN NYC TO GO INTO WHATEVER BATHROOM YOU IDENTIFY WITH”. I don’t want to see prepubescent girls making out with each other. I’m tired of gay pride parades. And to your point, I’m disgusted with my straight single friends male and female that engage in serial monogamous sexual relationships but can never commit to the covenant of marriage.

    I’m not judging them – no matter what they think. I want them to be saved. But I’m tired of seeing depravity everywhere, everyday.

    We really can’t coexist with militant homosexuality. Why? Because they hate us so much, they want us to cease to exist.

    Timothy, you’re also right that they have more in common with Islam than with Christianity. Both systems have no respect for equal rights. As they said down where I came from, “My way or the highway”.

    If things are any indication, that highway turnoff seems to be coming up real soon.

    Alec

    If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
    If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
    Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
    But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
    If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.
    He that hateth me hateth my Father also. (John 15:18-23)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true Alec. We are living in the days of Sodom, and their biggest hatred of us will eventually stem from the fact that we don’t join them in their revelry. For that, we will be persecuted.

      Hhm? Now, where are those catacombs when you need them?

      Like

  2. Pingback: Lazy Day Links-6/17/16 – There's No Place Like Home

Comments are closed.