The title of this blog might surprise you. It is the title of an article by Robert P George, professor of law at Princeton. He points out that secular liberals or “progressives” are making little effort to maintain “the pretense of neutrality.” “Having gained the advantage” notes George, “on battle front after battle front in the modern culture war, and having achieved hegemony in elite sectors of the culture….there is no longer any need to pretend.”
Steven Smith in his book “Pagans and Christians in the City” names this aggressive liberalism as “paganism.” What he [Smith] perceives, notes George, “is that contemporary social liberalism reflects certain core ideas and beliefs …… that partially defined the traditions of paganism that were dominant in the ancient Mediterranean world……..until the point at which they were defeated….by the Jewish sect that came to be known as Christianity.” Christians were like “resident aliens” in the world, following a God who was transcendent, whereas pagans located the sacred within the world.
These two worldviews clashed with the spread of the gospel in the first centuries of the church. No where was the clash greater than in sexuality. “The Christian view of sexuality was not only radically alien,” notes Smith, “it was close to incomprehensible.” There was a fear that Christians would “turn the lights out on the party.” In the West, the Christian sexual ethic prevailed until the present time.
But now in our day the lights have been turned on once again and the party is going again. It is “live and let live” when it comes to sexual morality. The old Christian ethic is “no longer operative.” We are entering into what George calls a “new Diocletian age,” similar to the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.
“The culture war is over; they lost, we won…..Taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers who are defending positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all” declares Mark Tushnet. The neo-pagans are not willing to accommodate Christians in the public square, when they dissent from progressive orthodoxy.
There are people “who want to ensure that we never again get near the light switch and that we are properly punished for having switched off the lights to the party in the first place.” So what are believers with a biblical worldview to do in the coming days.
George give three options. First that of capitulation and acquiescence. There are whole denominations that practice a visible evidence of faith but have no moral substance. George believes they have made themselves “useful idiots” of neo-paganism.
The two other options are between “flight or fight.” Rod Dreher has a strategic retreat in his promotion of the “Benedict Option.” Christian are to build arks in order to endure the coming flood. Believers would still be involved in the affairs of the world, while attending to intentional community for the sake of maintaining to faith.
The third option is that of staying in the public square and fighting. George opts for fight, saying “the cost of discipleship is a heavy cost……the days of comfortable Christianity are over.” We are, in his opinion, “back in the position of our forebears in imperial Rome.”
So men we are at a crossroads. Accommodation is not an option. Will it be flight or fight? I personally lean toward flight ( building an ark through my church) rather than fight. But I know that I will need to take a stand among the pagans. God give me grace to stand for Jesus
Challenge for today: Spend time with the Lord and ask Him if you are where you are suppose to be at this time in your life.
Challenge for today: Give the Lord all your concerns and live carefree in His love.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
How well do our inner lives match what we say with our lips? Sometimes we can be doing right things but our hearts are not truly in it. There is perfect harmony within when our outward and inward match and we do things from right motives. I remember years ago when one of our parishioners brought a huge load of manure and put on my garden at the parsonage. It was the first time that I had space for a garden and I was so excited about all the veggies we were going to have to eat. I dreamed of picking my own greens and just serving them right away in a big chef salad. Well my garden grew quickly and it may have looked beautiful on top but when it came time to harvest and I pulled up some of the veggies, there was hardly anything at the other end. They were all stunted as too much manure had been put on. What was outwardly good was not good underneath! The Lord wants to continue to transform our lives so that our inward and outward match and that we become more and more like Him. I read today from II Cor. 3:18 (NRSV), “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” The word transformed here is the same word in Greek that is used when Jesus was transformed before the disciples on the Mount. We haven’t all arrived yet but we are in process of being transformed. This is a transformation of the Spirit and it is a gradual change. We fail in ways each day and need forgiveness but hopefully we are growing and maturing. As we read the Word and closely follow Him, it says in The Message translation that our lives become brighter and more beautiful and we become more like Him. May our outward lives be reflectors of a deep work He is doing in our hearts.
Challenge for today: Co-operate with the Holy Spirit as He brings change to your heart.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Why do bad things happen to us when we are trying to serve the Lord? Why doesn’t He quickly rescue us out of difficult situations rather than let it go on and on? I’m sure we have all asked this question a time or two in our walk with the Lord. Gideon asked the angel this question in Judges 6:13, (The Message), “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” He had been through 7 years of trying to avoid the enemy’s attacks and hiding in caves etc. God answered by telling him to go in the strength of the Lord and He would be with him. Lori Hatcher writes about the reasons God may choose not to rescue us. Maybe like Gideon, we lack faith to believe He can work it all out. Or we may be going our own way, rather than His, and the Lord does not want to reward our disobedience. Do you suppose He could be trying to teach us to trust and become more confident in His power and not our own? Those are times our faith muscle gets exercised and rescue may not be the best thing in the long term, even though we wish for instant relief. God may be developing a character quality in us and we can ask ourselves, what He is trying to teach us in our present circumstances. He may be doing something amazing deep within us, even though we can’t see it yet. But it’s in those hard-pressed times that we seek Him and pray for wisdom, strength, and His discernment. It could be that God is building our faith story so we can share and help others in the future also. But the bottom line is that He wants us to learn that a close relationship with Him is far more precious than a life that is trouble-free. May we be more like David that said in Ps. 119:71, “My troubles turned out all for the best—they forced me to learn your ways.” May our troubles draw us all the more closely to the Lord, knowing He is with us in all of our circumstances.
Challenge for today: Ask God what you are to learn in each hard circumstance you go through.
Devotions from Judy’s heart
Whose approval matters most in our lives? Do we care more about what others think than what God thinks? I read some quotes from actor Denzel Washington, who said, “You don’t have to be approved by man if you are approved by God.” It’s what God thinks of us that is important and not what we have or what others think of us: not even the awards we may have received or titles we have been given. Denzel’s mom told him that “Man give awards but God gives the reward.” Some of the people in the Bible were successes in God’s eye but not necessarily in the eyes of others around them. Think of poor Jeremiah. He was so faithful to do what God asked of him, preaching a message that others did not want to hear or respond to, and yet he was faithful in God’s sight. Whose approval do we seek when we begin each day? Are we diligent to want to know what God has on His agenda for us, or are we more concerned with how we will look before others? The Pharisees loved the approval of men and liked to parade around being seen in the best light. But often what God asks of us, may not be seen by others or approved by them. Our eyes are to be on the Lord and do our best for Him. Paul says in Rom. 14:7-8 (The Message), “It’s God we are answerable to-all the way from life to death and everything in between— each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that He cold be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.” When it doesn’t matter to us what others think, but only what God thinks, we will be carefree in His love and find true freedom. May we do our best to be approved by God, for one day God will examine what kind of lives we lived. May He say, “Well done!”
Challenge for today: Seek to listen to the Lord to know what His desire is for you.