Couple right method with right message

Recently we had two contrasting views of how Christians respond in the public square. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” was asked on the “Larry King Live” television program about his support of Proposition 8 in California. The proposition called for the codifying in state law that marriage was between a man and a woman. Essentially Warren said that he had not campaigned for it. He was then caught by a video clip in which he urged his church to support the measure. He said he had sought to apologize to his “gay” friends for his actions. Brother Rick has done some damage to himself, the authenticity of believers and the cause for biblical marriage.

Compare this with the answer Miss California USA gave when questioned on stage at the Miss USA contest about her belief concerning same-sex marriage. A pageant finalist, Carrie Prejean, said that marriage should be between a man and a woman. She was gracious, kind and humble. She was not belligerent. Her questioner, a militant homosexual who calls himself Perez Hilton, sat on the judging panel. He was infuriated. He voted against her and said her comments caused her to lose the Miss USA crown. Later, Hilton blogged about Carrie. He called her unprintable names.

Following the firestorm, Matt Lauer interviewed Carrie, giving her a chance to recant. She said she was more concerned about being biblically correct than politically correct. Carrie is a committed Christian seeking to identify with Jesus at every opportunity.

These two incidents are telling in a number of ways. For years we have said the message never changes but methods do. Contextualization is major part of missions and evangelism. I think it is time to discuss the limits of contextualization. God forbid that I should judge Rick Warren’s motives; I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think he was simply trying to backpedal because he wants to see homosexuals come to Christ. Perhaps he thought his stand for biblical marriage would be seen as offensive to the homosexuals he was trying to win to Jesus. Right message, but wrong method.

Miss California USA was simply trying to state her convictions in a loving manner. When put in the spotlight she did not speak in a judgmental or harsh way. With a very humble demeanor she said she believed that marriage was between a man and woman. The vitriol was displayed by the homosexual community and liberal media. Right message, right method.

All of this brings me to a corollary issue. God and Country Day is not on the church calendar on Memorial Day or the 4th of July in a lot of churches. Many churches downplay patriotism for various reasons. Becoming a political party at prayer is not a good idea. Having too much hope in candidates has disappointed many and even muted the prophetic voice of some. However, I believe as a reaction against some tying Christianity with national identity, we have lost a biblical truth.

God made the nations, (Acts 17:26). I know that “nation” can mean an ethno-linguistic group and there are many nations comprised of several ethnicities. But God has also sanctioned geo-political entities. When Paul said pray for those in authority, (1 Timothy 2:2), he was talking about bloody Nero the Roman Emperor. My point is this: from a biblical perspective the United States is going to Hell in a hand basket. Unless we see a sweeping move of God we may one day be under a politically correct system that will infringe on our rights and mute our open witness. Just think about believers in China who had forced abortions. Remember the Jesus-followers in Saudi Arabia who are imprisoned. The kingdom of God will advance with or without America. Wouldn’t it behoove us to be a part of the advancing of the kingdom of God in a nation that reflects biblical values and doesn’t denigrate them? It is time to speak up like Carrie Prejean.

God would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous. We don’t know what His number is for America. Pray for the president and other government officials. Honor our troops for their sacrifice. Remember the fallen on Memorial Day. Share the gospel without compromise to everyone. Get desperate for God to do something in your church, family, and personal life. Perhaps God will allow us to continue with liberty to spread the gospel.

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