Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Black and White - a Gospel of Absolutes
The Gospel is a Gospel of absolutes. In Christianity there is no space for shades of grey. Jesus spoke in parables, but His message was crystal clear. He is the only path to Salvation, righteousness and acceptance by God. Anything else that sets itself up as a path to heaven is at best deluded fantasy, and at worst, antichrist.
Satan would love us to get bogged down in the irrelevant and minutia, as I’ve written previously. The problem for us is discerning where the minutia ends and the meat begins. The best place to start is to look at the Old Testament. This may surprise us, but the absolutes Jesus taught were first shown in the actions God directed in the hands of the Judges and the Kings of David’s heart. The prophets such as Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and the others all spoke in terms of absolutes with no space for compromise. Compromise would have seen Daniel eaten by lions and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego burned to a crisp. It would have seen Elijah die in a drought or starve.
We are not called to compromise. We must call sin “sin”, even when it’s unpopular to do so. Calling out sins and teaching that we can be freed from their hold over us is not popular today. The world looks to compromise for its religions. It’s only conservative evangelical fanatics who see sin for what it “used” to be.
An absolute is, by definition, unmoving. God is an absolute in that He never changes. And if He never changes and His Word is never to be changed, why do we insist on watering it down to make it more palatable to the masses? We voluntarily become lukewarm and invite Him to vomit us out. I’m a tea-drinker, and I can drink iced tea very cold or a strong Ceylon blend very hot. Don’t give me lukewarm tea – it’s revolting. Unpalatable.
We all have food like that in our tastes. Salad that’s gone limp. Stew partially congealed with the fat setting
but still a bit warm. For most of us it would turn our appetite off completely to be served this kind of food, so why do we suddenly in the 21st Century expect God after thousands of years accepting only hot or cold to be content with tepid followers?
Obviously this article is aimed at people who are already Christians, not those seeking. Or maybe it is. I was young, just 13, when I gave my life to Christ. But I remember I wanted something that set out black and white, right and wrong in no uncertain terms. I needed the discipline, even when I didn’t like it, of a faith of absolutes that were unshakeable. A God who didn’t blow hot and cold, but was constant so I would have a rock to rest my feet on, something solid on which to stand. My brother had recently died in an accident and I needed something more than my parents alone could offer. I looked into other religions, but I found strength and Truth in Christ simply because of the consistency of the Bible as His Word. Every action was motivated by Love, even the “genocides” of the Old Testament.
Consider the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were cities of influence. Modern teaching would have us believe their sin was being inhospitable rather than sexual in nature, but look deeper. The greatest sin was that they no longer considered sexual immorality – both heterosexual and homosexual – to be sin. It was the normal way of life, much like today. So how was their destruction an act of Love? It’s simple really. Their influence was such that had they not been destroyed there may not have been any virgins of child-bearing age by the time Jesus was to be born. The Saviour needed to be a Virgin Birth, and their actions would have rendered it impossible.
And that’s just a single example. Look at the Old Testament, even the slaughters in it, as a Love story, everything designed to make Salvation through Jesus possible, and everything designed to point to Him from the commands of the Law to the Prophet’s writings, it all is one huge story of God pouring out His Love onto an unworthy people to make them – to make us – acceptable in His sight through His own sacrifice on the Cross.
A relationship of Love is not an easy one. God’s kind of Love is sacrificial in nature. It’s not romantic. It’s deeper than brotherly. It requires sacrifice and choice on both sides. We need to choose to give up our sin. He needed to choose to accept it into Himself so we could be absolved.
Repentance is an ongoing choice. Forgiveness is not a one-time deal. It’s ongoing. It’s unchanging.
The nature of God is unchanging. What He said was sin 2000 years, 4000 years or longer ago is still unacceptable to Him today. It’s still sin. Pride, sexual immorality, coveting, hatred and all the other issues He declared to be unacceptable in history are still sinful today.
But so is His nature to forgive and heal. Abraham didn’t just believe in God. He believed God, and this is what was credited as righteousness (see Galatians 3:6). We are, as Paul wrote, justified by faith, not by compromise. Our faith must be absolute, but in our bodies, this absolute is a work in progress. I acknowledge my imperfections, and I recognise God’s forgiveness. And I welcome it. Without it I would be lost forever.
But we need to return to the recognition of absolutes in our walk. We need to hear the voice saying to turn right or left. God never said “Hey man, go your own way, I’ll catch up.” We follow Him, not the other way round. We need to recognise His leadership, not ask Him to accept us the way we are and let us in on a pass.
Absolutes. They are essential to us in order to walk with Jesus. Jesus didn’t do half-measures. He didn’t leave the blind as partially sighted. He didn’t leave the lame with a limp. The totally deaf were not hard of hearing, and the lepers didn’t get left with missing parts. Restoration was complete, final and absolute.
He asks no more or less of us. We cannot give more. How dare we give less?
Be uncompromising. Walk as we first accepted Christ, unshaken and unbowed to the whims of the World. Don’t seek to be popular, seek to be right. This isn’t a Dr Phil show. We need to be Right to be able to receive supernatural Joy. That Joy surpasses happiness. It will go on and sustain us long after the transient nature of the notion of “happy” has passed.
The World relies on emotion. It looks to personality not character. It looks to popularity not Truth. It looks to compromise not absolutes.
And in compromise there is nothing but death.