The Purpose of Exile

What is the purpose of exile in the lives of the people of God? A lot has been made of where the American church finds herself in this day in age. The church is finally waking up to the reality of exile. This world is not our home. We are pilgrims and strangers, citizens of another kingdom in exile in a foreign land. This is not a new reality for the people of God. Israel in the Old Testament found herself in exile and the New Testament is full of the exilic language to describe the reality of the church in the world. So, what is the purpose of our exile, our time here in this broken world? I think we see an answer in Micah 5:7-15. Micah is warning Judah and Israel of their coming exile and in the midst of this warning Micah gives them hope and the purpose for this exile.


The first thing we see in verses 7 and 8 is the truth of God’s faithfulness. God will keep a remnant. Judah will be exiled, but God will keep His people among the nations. God will not abandon His people even though they have abandoned Him. He will be faithful even though they are not always faithful. What we can take away from this is even when it seems like our culture has turned against us and we are losing our grip on who we thought we were God will keep us. He will be faithful and because of His faithfulness we can be faithful in the midst of our exile. This is where the promises of God give us hope. Our world is broken, evil, full of suffering and death. This is the reality of living as exiles in this world, living as citizens of God’s kingdom in the city of man. But, in this reality we have the hope of the promises of God. The hope of the promise that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, nothing can snatch us from the Father’s hand. The promise of God working all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, and the truth of His purpose being conforming us to the image of Jesus. The reality of exile cannot take away our hope. Our ultimate hope is the promise of deliverance. We see this in verse 15 of Micah 5. God will deliver His exiles, His people from the nations of this world and the evil and suffering of the reality of this fallen world. Our ultimate hope is found in the deliverance of God, in salvation. This salvation comes through the promised ruler who is to come from Bethlehem, the peace and shepherd of God’s people, in Jesus who is promised in the first six verses of Micah 5. Because of God’s faithfulness and God’s deliverance we can be people of hope in the midst of our exile. Hope marks the people of God. As we come into the realization of our own exile in this world our first reactions are anger and anxiety, both of which are antithetical to hope. We must not be anxious about our place in the world, God’s faithfulness and His promises fight this anxiety. We must not lash out in anger thinking of taking back what we think is ours. As exiles we must love, we must seek the good of the places we live, and we must do so filled with hope in God’s faithfulness, in His promises, and in His salvation. Therefore, one of the purposes of exile is to turn our hearts to the hope we have in God and His promises and not in the things of the world, which leads us to the second purpose of exile.


The main purpose of the exile for the people of God is to cleanse the people of God. Micah tells Judah their exile will be a time of cleansing, of ridding their hearts of the idols they have held on to in order to prepare them to enter the Promised Land once again. We see this in verses 10-14. God will cleanse His people of their idols and He will begin with the idol of worldly power and security. “I will cut off your horses from among you and will destroy your chariots; and I will cut off the cities of your land and throw down all your strongholds.” The military power, the walls you have built, the technology you have will not keep you from this exile, Judah. The things of this world you have put your trust in will be shown to be false. When we trust in the military power of our nation, or the security of our technology we trust in an idol. The purpose of exile is to train our hearts to trust in God. The idol of worldly power and security must be cleansed from our hearts. How true this is of us American Christians. Many times it seems we believe our salvation is found in our national heritage or our strong military and not in Jesus Christ alone. We should be patriotic, but we must not be nationalistic to the point where it becomes idolatry. Knowing we are exiles in this world helps us fight nationalistic idolatry and focuses our hearts on trusting in God. Verses 12-14 points to the idols of images, sorceries, fortunes, pillars, and bending the knee to the work of your hands. God will cleanse His people from their idolatry to the images and work of their hands, to false beliefs of fortunetellers and sorceries. God will cleanse us of our images and idols. We may not make wooden statues or golden calves to bow down to, but we still worship images and false gods. Our culture has different images and idols than the culture Micah was writing to, but they are images and idols the same. One look in a magazine or one evening watching television will prove this point. We worship wealth, nice things, good food, sex, and a host of other idols and images. All of these idols and images promise the good life and salvation. All of these idols and images promise to fulfill the longing in your soul and to give you joy. But, they are false gods. We were not created for the gifts, we were created for the giver. In exile God will cleanse our hearts from idolatry, from our incessant pursuit of salvation in the idols and images of our culture. He will deliver us from this idolatry and will cleanse our hearts to pursue Him. He is our salvation, our portion, what our souls long for, and where our joy is found. In the middle of our exile as we are pilgrims in this land God is cleansing us to bring us home to the Promise Land.


The purpose of exile is to change us and transform us to trust God by cleansing us of the idols and images we are holding on to. The promise Micah gives to Judah is when God is done cleansing and changing you He will bring you home. The promise is the same for us as His church. We are pilgrims in exile in this broken world. God will redeem and restore His creation and us. We long for that day, we pray for that day, and as we long and pray God is cleansing us and transforming us to trust Him. This gives us hope in this world, in the city of man as citizens of God’s kingdom. God is with us and God is working in us.


Rejoice In The Truth



As I have found myself in 1 Corinthians 13 over and over lately from preaching through verse 13 to just spending time meditating and praying over the truth of love verse 6 has become so key. Verse 6 says that love, “does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Love rejoices in the truth of God and His Word. Love rejoices in the truth. What this means is joy is key to love and truth is key to joy. True joy is found in truth and God is truth. Saint Augustine in his Confessions says, “true happiness is to rejoice in the truth, for to rejoice in the truth is to rejoice in you, O God, who are the truth.” Joy is found in God. Joy is found in the truth who is God.


When we talk about truth it seems we talk only about fighting for the truth and standing for the truth. We seek to use truth to fight against the world around us. In this way of thinking the truth is a set of ideas and beliefs that must be articulated and defended against wrong ideas and beliefs. There is no doubt we should defend the truth of God’s word in a culture progressively hostile to any truth at all. I don’t think there is much debate here, but is that the primary way we must think of truth or is there a more basic, fundamental way we should understand truth? I want to suggest truth is not first of all ideas and beliefs to be fought for, but a person to rejoice in and to love whose love and joy then flow through us to the world. The only way we should fight for the truth is when we have first of all rejoiced in truth. We must not see the truth only as a hammer of ideas and beliefs to prove ourselves right. The truth must be something, or rather someone, in which we rejoice.


To rejoice in the truth is to love the truth. To rejoice in God is to love God. This is one and the same. We take joy in what we love and we love what we take joy in. What 1 Corinthians 13:6 showed me is love is marked by joy in the truth. Where we see truth we rejoice in it because where we see truth we see a glimpse of God. To rejoice in the truth we must know what the truth is and to know what the truth is we must know God who is truth. Once again, truth is not something first and foremost to be defended it is someone to be rejoiced in. Too much of what we do in the name of truth is marked by fighting, but we can only stand faithfully and winsomely when we do so out of joy. To biblically stand for truth is to stand with love and joy. I want to call us back to rejoicing in God as the fountain for our faithful witness to the world.


We must be people marked by joy. We must rejoice in the truth, rejoice in God to be the people God has called us to be, to be faithful in the age in which we live, to be salt and light to the world. Joy must mark us, church. Joy must flow out from us. Joy must separate us from a world filled with restlessness and anxiety. A part of this joy is the hope we have in Christ. Biblical joy is filled with biblical hope. Joy and hope are inextricably linked. We have joy because we have hope. We have hope because we have the promises of God, the God who is always faithful to keep these promises. These promises are absolute truth and this truth gives us hope, which breeds in us joy. To rejoice in the truth is to be filled with hope.


Hope looks back to see the faithfulness of God to never leave nor forsake His people. Hope looks back to see God keeps His promises, to see what God has done for us. Hope also looks forward. Hope looks to the promises of God that are to be fulfilled. Hope looks to the promises of the New Heavens and the New Earth. Hope looks to the redemption and restoration to come. This world is broken. This world is full of evil and suffering, but it will not always be so and therefore we have hope and this hope gives us joy which cannot be stolen or taken no matter what we face. To be people filled with joy, to rejoice in the truth, we must be people of hope and we are people of hope because of Jesus. We rejoice in Him, we have hope in Him.


Instead of hope and joy many times the church is marked by fear. We fear the loss of a cultural place. We fear the loss of earthly power. We fear the other. We fear the future. Our fear ultimately is a lack of joy and a lack of hope. We can only see what is in front of us. Or, we think (whether we say it or not) what we are facing is bigger than God and His love. What combats this fear? Truth. The truth of who God is and what God has done in Jesus produces in us joy to face our fear. The truth of what God will do produces in us hope expelling our fear. Therefore, we rejoice in the truth for the truth helps us face the broken world we live in with hope, with joy, and with love.


Rejoice in the truth because the truth will set you free from fear. Joy produces hope and the basis for this hope is the same truth, it is Jesus. Do you see the truth as a hammer or do you rejoice in the truth and find hope in the truth? To be the church we are called to be we must be men and women filled with joy and marked by hope. The wellspring of this joy and hope is the truth. To love as we are called to love in 1 Corinthians 13 we must rejoice in the truth. To be faithful we must rejoice in the truth.

The Tide of Grief


Grief is a funny thing. It is like a tide. Sometimes it is low tide and grief barely makes it upon the shores of your life and you go about your routine and daily tasks with barely a thought to the loss in your life. Then, sometimes it is high tide and grief washes ashore so violently you can’t help but to cry and feel the deep hole the loss of a loved one has left. The tricky thing is you never know when high tide will hit. It has been two years today since Mom passed away. I haven’t always been very good about dealing with the grief her loss brings. I have tried to be strong and detached from it and in many ways it has hurt me. I felt like I had to be strong, like I couldn’t show much emotion. Frankly, I didn’t know how to grieve. I am used to being the one comforting families through grief and I never learned to allow myself to grieve. I went right back to preaching and pastoring the next week after her funeral. I didn’t take many Sundays off the next year, just kept right on going. There were times I broke down, especially once little Evahlyn came into the world and Mom wasn’t there to enjoy her. Finally, last Christmas it all finally caught up to me. I came down with a mono like virus that put me out of commission for a month. It laid me out. I ran fever for 4 weeks. I spent two nights in the hospital. I couldn’t get out of bed for 2 weeks. Much of it was induced by stress my doctor told me. It all came about, in my opinion, because I tried to press on, because I would not let myself take the time to grieve, because I thought I had to be strong. The Lord made me slow down. The Lord made me rest. The stress of grief and loss overwhelmed me. I realized grief must be dealt with and time must be taken.

Knowing this truth does not mean I have lived this truth. This week reminds me again of the great loss not having Mom in my life truly is. I still think to myself, “I need to call Mom and tell her about this” multiple times a week. I hug Evahlyn and wish she could know her Grams everyday. I see Mom in the way Evahlyn laughs, the way she folds her hands when she sits, the way she pats on my back to let me know she loves me, and in so many other ways. Grief still rolls in like high tide every few days. Instead of suppressing it I try to accept it, let it wash over me and remember the hope of eternal life Mom is experiencing in this moment. Grief is ok, it is more than ok, it is healthy, it reminds us of the loved ones who meant so much to us, it reminds us of the good times we shared, and it reminds us of the brokenness of this world and the restoration to come in Jesus Christ. I write this to say, grieve. When it washes up on the shore of your heart, let it come. Cry. Take a moment and cry. Admit you struggle. Admit it is hard. Talk about it. I say this mostly to myself this week. I need to grieve. I need to let the high tide this week brings to wash over me. I need to hug Evahlyn even tighter. I need to tell her about her Grams. I need to tell her I love her “a bushel and a peck, and that’s all you can love.”

The Lord is so good. I plan sermons out 6 months to a year in advance. This coming Sunday I preach on hope in the life of the Christian. The Lord knew what I needed this week. We have hope. I carry the hope of eternal life, the hope I will see Mom again, the hope Evahlyn will one day know her Grams. Grief leads me to hope because our hope in Christ is that death leads to life. I am not dealing with an eternal loss. Missing Mom is temporary. It is hard, but it is temporary. So, as the waves of grief crash in on my heart this week I have hope. I have hope in Christ. I have hope that these tides of grief will always be a part of my life on this earth, but they point to an eternity where there is no more grief and no more death. Grief will come whether you want it to or not. It will wash upon the shores of your heart and if you try to be strong and just move past it eventually the waves will bring you down. Let the waves of the tide of grief wash over you, talk through it, pray through it, and know it is normal, it is healthy, and it points us to hope in Christ. Strength is not found in suppressing your grief. True strength is found in grieving. Hope is found in accepting the tides of grief and allowing these tides to point us to our eternal life found in Christ alone. When the tide rolls in let the waves point you to Jesus, to His death that defeated sin and death forever and His resurrection the first fruits of our resurrection and eternal life found in Him. Death will give way to life and grief will give way to joy and reunion. This is our hope when the tide of grief rolls in on our hearts. This is our hope in the midst of feeling personal loss. Our hope is Jesus, always Jesus.

Fear Not

The most given command in the Bible is to fear not. God knows the tendency of the human heart to fear. To fear others, to fear the situations we face, to fear the future. We can be a fearful people. In many ways this is due to our limits as finite beings, as created beings. We do not know it all. We cannot know it all and, therefore, fear is a natural response to our limits. The problem is fear becomes the enemy of faith. So, God gives us the command “do not fear” over and over in His word and gives us His promises and presence to help us obey this command. I want to look at 4 areas in which we show fear as believers and think about the Gospel remedies for each. The basis for each Gospel answer is the truth “perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18. There is no more perfect love than the love of Jesus Christ. His love casts out all ungodly fear. We need this love when we fear our past, our present, our future, and others.

Many of us fear our past. We look back at who we used to be or what we used to do and we feel shame and guilt. We feel as if our past disqualifies us from our present. We feel as if God cannot really love us. If other people found us out we would be shunned. The past hangs on our necks like a heavy chain, a burden we cannot unload because we are so tangled. But, there is freedom. Because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:1 “ there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The Gospel takes our past and it forgives our sin. The shame and guilt we carry around is ours no longer in Christ. He takes the burden of the past and He gives us His life, His righteousness. There is now no more condemnation. God’s love is greater than our past. His grace covers all of our sin. Fear of the past washes away in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on us in regeneration and renewal. In Christ our past does not define us. At the cross our sin is taken away from us as far as the east is from the west. We do not fear our past because we know the power of the blood of Christ to forgive our sin and to make us new. The love of Christ casts out our fear of the past, it erases our shame and guilt, and it makes us new creations.

It is not just our past able to strike fear in our hearts, but our present situations and trials as well. In the present our fear presents itself in worry and anxiety. This worry and anxiety can be about money, about health, about work, or about our family. It can be about anything we are facing in this moment, today and tomorrow. Our immediate concerns can produce fear in us. This fear keeps us from trusting in God for today’s and tomorrow’s provisions. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount confronts this worry and anxiety head on. In Matthew 6:25-34 He tells us, “do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” Jesus commands us against anxiety and fear. The power to fight this anxiety and fear is faith in the goodness and provision of God. We fight anxiety by looking around at how God has taken care of His creation all around us and knowing without a shadow of a doubt our Father knows exactly what we need. We seek His kingdom by faith instead of allowing fear to run our hearts today. Our money troubles, our health troubles, our family troubles are nothing compared to our God. Faith must erase our fear. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, “ do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Our faith works itself out in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Fear of today and tomorrow, fear of the present, is fought with faith through prayer. Fear of today is fought with thankfulness for who God is and what God has done and promised to do. Do not fear today. Do not be anxious about anything today or tomorrow offers.

Another fear paralyzing many people is the fear of the future. In fear of the future I am not talking about tomorrow, I am talking about years and decades down the road, what this world will become, and ultimately this fear plays itself out in a fear of death and the end. We fear our death. We fear where our world is heading. Many of us who are Christians look at the world around us and we feel as if we are losing the future. Things are going downhill very quickly. We fear what it will be like for our children and grandchildren to grow up in this world. But, this fear must not overwhelm us. It must not control us. We must be a people of hope first and foremost. The church will always survive. The church will endure. We know the end of this story. We know where this world is heading. Death will not win the victory. The sting of death will be defeated forever Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15. We do not fear death because eternal life is ours in Jesus. We do not fear the future for our children because we know God will keep His people, will guard His church. We cannot look back into history with rose-colored glasses and think there was a golden age. We must look forward with hope towards the reconciliation of all things in Jesus Christ. Heaven will come down to earth. All of creation will be reconciled along with those in Christ. All sin, all death, all evil will be cast out into hell. We should stand for God’s truth and disciple others to live lives that glorify God into the future, but we must not be paralyzed by fear of death or fear of the future to come. We must be marked by the hope of the Gospel, the hope of reconciliation and renewal.

One last fear I want to think about is the fear of men, or fear of others. This comes in many forms. One way we fear others is by needing their approval. We live to please other people and therefore live in fear of their disapproval. We let others feelings, thoughts, and actions towards us define us. We battle this fear of men by remembering the truth of the love of God and our adoption into the family of God by our faith in Christ. If God is for us who can be against us? If God adopts us, loves us, accepts us in Jesus Christ what does it matter what anyone else says? “We have been given a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry Abba Father!” Romans 8:15. This spirit of adoption casts out the spirit of fear. We do not fear the disapproval of other people. We rest in the approval of our Heavenly Father in Christ. Other people do not ultimately define us and their approval or disapproval cannot change our identity in Jesus.

Another way this fear of man plays itself out is what I simply call a fear of the other. This is a fear of people who think and believe and live differently than we do. We see this most clearly when we ascribe evil motives to all who disagree with us politically or theologically. Just because someone doesn’t believe exactly like you does not mean they are then evil. There is no room for this kind of thought in the life of a believer. This fear leads to paranoia and when we live with this paranoia and fear we cannot love our neighbor as ourselves or seek the common good of all people. When we live with this kind of fear of others we look more like the Pharisees and less like Jesus. All people, whether they look, think, or believe like us are created in the image of God and are loved by God. When fear and paranoia rule our hearts this is easily forgotten. We must fight this fear by continually coming back to the truth of our own brokenness, the truth of the image of God in all people, and the global and sweeping offer of the Gospel. We are just as broken as every other human being. The problem is we think too highly of ourselves and forget we once were rebels opposed to God as well. We must remember the importance of the image of God in all people in order to see them as equal with us before the cross of Christ. The Gospel is not for those who have it all together and believe and think rightly. It is for those who need forgiveness and salvation and therefore it is for all. Fear of others leads us to erect barriers to the Gospel the Bible doesn’t allow. We must fight against this fear. We must get to know those who don’t think or believe or look like us. The Gospel demands it and God has called us to it.

Fear can cripple Christians. We must fight against the fear of the past, the fear of the present, the fear of the future, and the fear of others. We fight against fear with the truth of the Gospel. We fight against fear with the freedom found in the Gospel, with the presence of God that is ours in the Gospel, with the promises of God to reconcile this world, and with the love of God in the truths that we are accepted in Him and the ground is equal at the cross. Perfect love casts out fear. When this love overflows into our hearts it casts out the fears paralyzing us and frees us to love God and love our neighbor. This love frees us to live with hope. The Gospel truth sets us free and when it sets us free we are free indeed.

The Salt Of The Earth

Last week at our mid week Bible study we began the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. I have read through it so many times and every time the Lord shines a light on where I need to grow in Him. We had a great discussion on Jesus’ call for His disciples to be the salt of the earth. This is not a suggestion. He boldly tells us we ARE the salt of the earth. This is our identity as disciples in the world. So, the question is not will we be salt, but what kind of salt will we be?

The issue is not will we be in the world, the issue is as we are in the world, where we live and work and play, will we be an influence of the Kingdom of God upon the kingdom of this world? Will be flavorful? Will we live in such a way to show the joy of life in Jesus against the bland, fleeting, pleasures this world offers? Will we be salty? I don’t do much cooking, but when salt is missing from a recipe you can definitely tell in the flavor of the food. The dish is just not nearly as enjoyable as it is meant to be. Salt that loses its flavor can no longer perform the function it was created or made to perform so Jesus says it is better it be thrown out and trampled on.

Where this has worked in my own heart through the week and into today is thinking through how to keep our flavor, how to be the church and the Christians we are called to be in the world. We do this by the habits and virtues the Lord forms in us through our daily relationship with Him through His Word and prayer and our daily relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. God’s word, time in prayer, and relationships are the means by which God forms us and molds us. They become our habits and they produce in us virtues or fruits consistent with life in Christ. We are being formed by habits in our lives whether we know it or not. We are being formed by what we read and listen to or watch and whom we spend time with. God created us with wills and minds and hearts that are being formed. The question for us is formed by what or whom? God is the one who forms us and makes us salt. We are formed by His Word, by His presence, and by His people. To be the salt of the earth, full of the flavor of the kingdom, marked by the fruit or virtues of the Spirit, God must form us through our habits and relationships.

One other thought from this passage has stayed with me. Salt subversively flavors the food in which we put it. Too much overpowers the flavor. I think we are called to live in the world humbly and gently. We are to be subversive and influence all around us in the world through sacrifice, love, and courage. We don’t have to beat anyone over the head we just have to be faithful, flavorful. We don’t have to wait for big cultural or political victories. We love where we are planted, we are faithful where we are planted, we serve where we are planted, and little by little we sprinkle flavor in the world around us and others see our joy, our hope, our faith, and our love. Being the salt of the earth opens doors to share the Gospel and to seek the common good. Within being subversive we stand boldly for God’s truth and we call others to repentance, but we do this from humility, respect, and gentleness, always.

You are the salt of the earth Christian. You are either full of flavor and influencing the world around you or you have lost your flavor and are a worthless witness. Which one describes you?

Consequential Faith

How do we see ourselves in a culture either hostile or indifferent about us as the church and our beliefs? This seems to be the major question for us once we have finally realized the influence and power we have lost. For a long time we convinced ourselves we were just a silent majority, but I think the writing is on the wall for that fallacy. Rod Dreher has called us to the Benedict Option and Russell Moore has called for us to see ourselves as exiles. Both of these calls should be heeded, I believe, for us to be faithful in the culture we find ourselves now and in the future. But, what is needed to take a Benedict Option, what is needed to be faithful exiles? It will take what I call consequential faith. Or maybe more simply put a deep belief and trust in the traditional orthodox Christian faith that matters.

We have long cared more about cultural relevance and meeting consumerist standards of success than we have about imparting a consequential faith. Being relevant has meant being able to play non-Christian songs in worship and teaching in a way that shows we are clever instead of leading our people to a deep faith. We have longed for the non-believing world to see us as creative or relevant instead of preparing our people to live in the broken life under the sun, as Solomon says. We have been so concerned about size we have allowed our front door to be open and yet our back door to be even more wide open. As long as we can have you walk an aisle and baptize you and count you on our roll we are satisfied. We don’t care to prepare you for life with a deep faith. We don’t care to call you into a life of complete worship. We don’t care to teach you the truth of sound doctrine. We don’t have the patience for long-term ministry in one place for an extended period of time. We may say every number represents people, but many times we are more concerned with our own celebrity than the numbers or the people they represent. We can see the correction to this in the plea for a return to the importance and necessity of discipleship in the local church from many different voices and to be faithful to who we are called to be we must listen to these varied voices.

What will happen, and is already happening, in a culture more hostile to traditional orthodox Christian faith is many nominal Christians will fall away. Easy believism won’t be so easy anymore. When believing the truth of the Scripture has consequences it will be shown just how many in our midst don’t actually believe these truths. But, it will also prove how we have failed to give our people the deep truths of the faith to believe in having settled for giving them biblical principles tied to a relevant theme instead of the Bible and its beautiful and complex truths. To live in this culture we have been awakened to, though we have been here a while, the church will have to have a faith that matters. We will have to have a consequential faith able to stand for truth with love, to turn the other cheek, to remain faithful to orthodox Christianity even when it is not popular. For too long we have celebrated nominalism in so many ways. We have celebrated numerical growth over spiritual growth. We have called people to attendance instead of allegiance. We have not asked our people to come and die, to take up their cross as Jesus calls us in Luke 9:23. We have not led and we have not asked our people to have a consequential faith, and the truth is now obvious inconsequential faith, shallow faith, will not stand up against the inroads culture has already made into our minds, hearts, and lives.

Make no mistake, our culture is calling us to worship, they are calling us to give up something in order to gain a greater good. For too long we have been calling for people to just come and see. We have not made the biblical call for them to come and die. We have given them nothing to live or die for. We have offered them something to believe in addition to their lives in the culture, not something to give their lives to over against the lies of the culture and now in these days, as in many days before, where many will be asked whom will you serve many will choose the culture and not the church.

This is not all bad news for the church. This falling away of the nominal in many ways can lead us back to being the faithful exiles or aliens we have always truly been even though we had deceived ourselves into thinking this is our home. We can now be a creative, prophetic minority and I would argue from the Bible and history this is where the church thrives the most. What it will call for from us, those in the church, is to live, preach, teach, and call others to this consequential faith. It will mean going back to history and seeing how to be faithful in a culture hostile to orthodox Christian faith. It will mean laying down cultural power for kingdom power. It will mean giving up a place at the table to be faithful to Scripture. We must come and die and in dying to political power and cultural acceptance truly find life. I see this day as a great opportunity for the church to truly be who she has always been called to be. We can see this as an opportunity to take off the blinders and the false hopes of being cool and approved. The choice will come for us, do we want to be accepted or do we want to be faithful? A consequential faith can help us stay faithful even when there are consequences.

I write this not from a place of fear. We are not being persecuted for our faith and to say we are at this point is a stretch, but there is a trajectory in our culture pushing those who hold to biblical orthodoxy to the margins of society. I don’t think all in all this is a necessarily bad thing. God is on the margins. Consequential faith helps us stand on the foundation of His word and our tradition even when it may cost us jobs, privilege, acceptance, and anything else the world tries to take from us. When all we care about is come and see, attend and let us count you we are not preparing men and women to stand for their faith or to drink from the deep well of the faith. We are preparing them for their eventual exit. We must teach, we must preach, we must make our worship services and our discipleship all about a deep, consequential, orthodox faith that matters and can stand even when the world turns against us. We don’t just call people to come and see we call them, like Jesus, to come and die.

Unity Above History: A Short Call To Take Down The Confederate Flag

Can I be honest? I really don’t understand defending the Confederate flag. Like, it doesn’t register with me how someone can defend it flying at a statehouse or capitol. I don’t understand flying it at your house or having it as a sticker on your vehicle. I understand many make the argument of honoring the past and I get the rebellious nature of being southern and always wanting to stick it to the Yankees, but I mean come on. You may say, well it isn’t a symbol of hate, it isn’t about racism. But, it is easy to say that when it wasn’t your ancestors who were held in slavery or your grandparents who were denied a seat at the lunch counter while this flag flew. It may represent history to you but it doesn’t to thousand if not millions of Americans. That should be enough for you. It should be enough for you to think about how our African American brothers and sisters feel about seeing that particular flag fly. It should be enough for us to admit the Civil War was about slavery. You may say it was not all about slavery. You may say it was about states rights above all, but what right were they fighting for? You may say it was about money, but how was that money made? Slavery is wrong. Morally and absolutely wrong. All humanity is made in the image of God and all humanity has dignity. The South was wrong in owning slaves.

I want to challenge white Christians here especially. We are to be people marked by love, service, and humility. All Christians are. A part of this is for us as white Christians is to listen to our African American brothers and sisters in Christ. We need unity. We must fight for unity with one another. I believe we need unity among racial lines if the church in America is to be the church we are called to be. In this fight for unity many times we must give up our own opinions and preferences for the sake of our brothers and sisters. If the flag offends, and it does, then take it down and stand with those who are offended by its presence. Instead of fighting to keep what our brothers and sisters in Christ see as offensive and filled with hate we should be fighting by their side for justice in so many other areas. We should be just as outraged, and I would argue much more so, by our brothers and sister’s churches burning as we are about a perceived threat of the culture and our religious freedom, yet we speak much more clearly and forcefully on the latter. We are one church, filled with one Spirit, bought by one Savior who will spend eternity together around the same throne praising the same God. How about we fight for that same kind of unity now, today? Stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let go of being outraged about the need to preserve history. Sacrifice and humbly listen to brothers and sisters different than you. Take down that flag.