Saturday, 15 February 2014

Conformed or Transformed?

There's some debate going on about what the facts are about some major issues in the World today. Leaders from all sides have called for a more "realistic" view to be taken by church leaders, from the Pope to the independant church pastors, all church leaders need to address certain issues.

The big one over the last few months has been same-gender relationships, although the Catholic church has struggled with accusations of paedophilia which seems to finally be being addressed by Francis - albeit slowly.

It's a hard truth that things are not what they once were. Many societies have changed drastically in the last 100 years. Two world wars, many acts of genocide and torture have rocked and changed the planet. Assassinations, coups, oustings and civil wars have shaped the last century in many ways. Israel was recreated. Palestine was oppressed. Wars and Cold War, "armed neutrality" and divided nations.

The world has changed.

God has not.

Society has changed.

God has not.

In terms of society, our Western morals have become alarmingly similar to the ones widespread in the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. The rich get richer at the expense of the poorest in society. Self-interest is more acceptable than group support. Policies and interests of individuals lead to increasingly corrupt behaviours by the "leaders" of our nations. Just like the Caesars.

The church is under pressure to get behind the social "improvements" made by liberty organisations.

In fairness, it probably should. The Church should welcome all comers to their places. It should insist they are met with Love as Jesus would have done.

But there's something else the Church needs to do.

Not compromise.

I've mentioned "progressive christianity" in previous entries, so I'm not going charging down that road again. What I'm referring to is more insidious than an obvious "movement" like the progressives.

There's a gradual erosion of core values in the Body of Christ in many Western societies. And it's subtle. So subtle we didn't notice it.

We were challenged by the immorality of the wealthy landowners and their greed through the first 1900 years after Jesus, and the Church - aside from some errors regarding pre-destination - fought the corrupt influences. But something happened around 100 years ago we didn't notice.

The move towards the lower reaches of society having money began. Suddenly anyone could be a millionaire. Cattle-barons in America sprang out of nowhere. In Europe the sudden vacation to the former colonies and the tragic loss of a generation in the Great War from 1914-1918 meant the lower echelons of the upper classes lost their servant base. They essentially became the upper-middle class, and the lower classes who were left were able to begin to demand higher incomes. So poverty began to be reduced, but there was still a gap and probably always will be.

What has this got to do with God?

Wealth and prosperity became synonyms. Where before the poorest had understood there was a difference between money and prosperity, now it got lost. Ambition and desire were used as words to replace the previous concept of greed and covetousness. Coveting what your neighbour had became a way of life that was so subtle we as the Church missed it. A society of "keeping up with the neighbours" grew. "Surface" wealth appeared - 2 cars on the drive but nothing in the pantry to eat. The trappings of the enemy dug in their claws.and society drifted a little away from God's way of doing things.

Then the Second World War eliminated another generation of men and fathers and those children began growing up in a world where there was significantly less moral guidance from previous generations than ever in history. The result? the "Free Love" movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

"Love" and sex became synonyms. By the time Generation X (my people) came along, there was a social acceptance of pre-marital sex in the West. Divorce instead of reconciliation became the norm, and now that has become pre-nuptual contracts deciding who gets what when not if the divorce happens. I have even heard it suggested that a standard marriage contract be for a fixed period to reduce the divorce rate. The lunacy of the concept is that it didn't seem odd to suggest it. "Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife until this time five years from now, at which point the contract can be renegotiated" just doesn't have the same sound to it. Marriage became a concept outmoded and irrelevant to "modern" Westerners.

Until the last five years.

The erosion firmly in place on the concept of marriage being God's creation and gift to Mankind allowed the claws to tighten their grip more. So now the recognition of "civil unions" between same-sex couples has become an issue. And the society has been so eroded and drawn away from God's standards that it can't see the downfall it has made for itself. The West believes it is "evolving" into a better society. Equality for all under the law of the land. "Unity" between races and genders. And all of it dragging the bewildered church with it.

The church makes an effort to become relevant now by cloning itself to the patterns of society. It fights for "social justice" and "equality". That sounds like something Jesus would do, right?

Well, yes - to a point. Jesus would speak to them about where they were. He'd come and talk stocks and bonds to the bankers. He'd talk bricks to the builder and contractors. He'd extend Love to the prostitutes and forgiveness to all.

Just like last time.

But He'd also tell them to stop their life of Sin.

Just like last time.

He didn't say to a single person "God will be ok if you carry on as you were". He didn't tell people to keep going. He invited them to stop. To be transformed into what He was.

Paul puts it "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:2) We can only "prove" or discern or understand depending on the translation the will of God through a transformation of our mind away from the pattern of the World. 

We conform and we die.

We transform and we move into His Life.

Yes, social justice is important. A secular society should have equal rights for all its citizens.

But Church isn't a secular society. It needs to acknowledge Sin as Sin. Otherwise there's nothing to make it distinct from society. Jesus didn't abolish the concept of Sin. He stood in our place and took the penalty for it. If we redefine behaviour and fail to recognise the sinful nature of it we remove any possibility of those people seeking redemption for those behaviours. The result is that those behaviours stay with us, and we die to them instead of to Christ.

All because we conformed instead of allowing Him to Transform us.