OBEYING MEN AND SPEAKING FOR JESUS
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us (1 John 4:7-12).
As I write this message, the debate regarding the Supreme Court decision in defining marriage handed down on Friday (July 26), is raging in the coffee shops, work places, homes, restaurants, and in all form of the media. Similar to the story of Bruce Jenner who no longer wanted to remain what God created him to be. Some of these debates are calm and others turbulent. I understand all of us have passion in how we feel about this topic.
Love wins. We have seen these words in social media and in print all over the place since Friday. Words by nature are amoral. They don’t have any intrinsic moral usage apart from their context. This means words are neither moral nor immoral in and of themselves. However, context changes the morality of these words for better or for worse. If we were to use the words love wins in the context of the cross and empty tomb of Christ, no truer form of sweet Gospel could be heard. However, the words love wins as they have been used since Friday could not be farther from the truth of the Word of God.
Love wins only if it is in accordance to the inspired Word of the Lord through His Apostle Paul: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Love is always looking out to the other person’s benefit.
Yet, on Friday, the Supreme Court rendered a decision that, while not surprising, has forever changed the landscape of the way in which the Church will operate for the sake of the Gospel. Since that ruling there has been much ink spilled, many hours on the radio and TV have been pondered as to what this changed decision means. There are those who say that this will change nothing except giving liberty to those who didn’t have it before. On the other end of the spectrum there are those who feel that the sky is falling and that “our opponents” will be coming with their lawyer, pitchforks and torches later today to visit us.
As is often the case, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. What is worse, at this point in time there isn’t anyone who can accurately predict what will happen as a result. Anyone who tries is a false prophet or a liar. Both are to be rejected. There are some eventualities that we, as followers of Jesus in general and congregations in particular will have to consider how we move forward. At Redeemer, we saw this coming and have made some changes to our wedding policies, bylaws and other entities in the months leading up to this decision. As the dust begins to settle out legally, we may need to make other changes as well. This is yet to be seen.
However, know this: while we may have to change HOW we do the work of ministry, it will NEVER change the work itself. Before last Friday, there were billions of people on this planet, and more specifically hundreds in our own community who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That was long before the Supreme Court ruled. Those same people STILL need Jesus today more than ever! Our mission does not change. I, as a pastor and foot washer, will continue to proclaim the truth of the Word of God and its power as it pertains to Law and Gospel, sin and forgiveness, repentance and new life and grace and salvation. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we will do this without fear in gentleness and humility. A day may come where there will be civil and criminal penalties for us to speak like this. That day has not yet come. But if it does, you have my word of promise to God and to you that I will speak the truth in love. I will go to jail if need be. I WILL NOT PERFORM ANY WEDDINGS, EXCEPT THOSE BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN! God’s Word and our conscience demand this.
Here is what I ask of you. First, hear the WORD. Know what God says. Don’t settle for thinking you know what God says. Second, pray! The Lord will give you the words you need to say, gently and lovingly. Third, be quick to listen and slow to speak. You may win a greater opportunity to speak the clear truth of the Gospel by being more like Jesus in this way. Finally, don’t be afraid. When people confront you trust in God more than fearing them. This is why St. Paul told young Timothy, For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1: 6-7)
Our world is different. Our ministry is NOT. We will preach Christ crucified. Because in Christ, and only in Christ, Love Wins! His love is real. It is this love that took our Savior to the cross to free us from the bondage of slavery to sin and the deceptive means of the evil one.
Lord, Jesus Christ, help us to be faithful to you now and always.
In Christ’s love and in His service,
Pastor Nabil Nour a Foot Washer