Learning to Listen to the Whole Counsel of God

What does Jesus want to say to the church in the West? To the church in North America? To the church in the South, or in New England, or in the Midwest? What does Jesus want to say to your church?

That all depends: what is your church like? Where are you strong? Where are you weak? We live in a big country with hundreds of thousands of churches. If you think the issue out there is too much law, you’d be right. If you think the issue is cheap grace, you’d be right about that too. Jesus wouldn’t say just one thing to the church in this country–let alone in the West or in the world–because the church in this country is diffuse and diverse.

If Jesus had seven different letters for the churches in Asia Minor, I imagine he’d have more than one thing to say to the churches in North America.

Ephesus was your listless, loveless church. They were orthodox, moral, and hard working.  But they weren’t concerned about the lost and may not have been too concerned about each other. They were doctrinally sound, naval-gazers. To them and to us, Jesus says, “Love.”

Smyrna was your persecuted, 10-40 window church. They were afflicted, slandered, and impoverished. But they were spiritually rich. They were vibrant, but fearful. To them and to us, Jesus says, “Be faithful.”

Pergamum was your ungrounded, youth-infused church. They were faithful, passionate witnesses. But they had compromised with the world and accommodated to their sexually immoral and idolatrous culture. They were missional, but misguided. To them and to us, Jesus says, “Discern.”

Thyatira was your warm-hearted, liberal church. They were strong in compassion, service, and perseverance. But they undervalued doctrinal fidelity and moral purity. They were loving, but over-tolerant. To them and to us, Jesus says, “Think.”

Sardis was your flashy and successful, but ultimately shallow megachurch. They were like your big Bible-belt churches chocked full with nominal Christians. They had a great reputation. But in reality, they were spiritually dead. They were the church of the white-washed tombs. To them and to us, Jesus says, “Wake up.”

Philadelphia was your small, storefront, urban church. They felt weak and unimpressive. But they had kept the word of God and not denied his name. They were a struggling, strong church.  To them and to us, Jesus says, “Press on.”

Laodicea was your ritzy, influential church out in the leafy part of town. They thought they had it all together. But they were as spiritually poor as they were materially rich. The church was filled with affluence and apathy. To them and to us, Jesus says, “Be earnest.”

We all tend to see certain errors more clearly than others. Nothing wrong with that, as long as we see our own dangers most clearly and don’t presume that every church has the same problems. We must pay attention to the whole counsel of God. We need to study all of it and preach from all of it, not just the stuff that hits our sweet spot. God has a word for all of us—if we are willing to look hard enough and willing to listen.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin DeYoung

I am the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church(RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. I’ve been the pastor there since 2004. I was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I root for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. I have been married to Trisha since January 2002. We live in East Lansing and have five young children.

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Seven Suggestions for Dealing with Differences of Opinion in Your Church

At a recent conference the three of us on the panel (all pastors) were asked the question, “As a layperson, should I start a grassroots movement to change my church?” All three of us basically said, “No.” Following the conference I got a long and heated email from someone who was very upset with my answer. He thought I was guilty of clericalism and gave no place for the laity to know anything, do anything, or ever question the pastor. That was certainly not what I said, nor, so far as I can tell, what most people thought we were communicating. But his concerns got my blogging juices flowing. The initial question about forming a grassroots movement to change a local church is one I’ve gotten in one form or another several times in the past five years. So perhaps it would be helpful to spell out my answer in a little more detail.

The Situation

Here’s the kind of situation I’ve been presented with many times. It’s what I assumed was behind the question at this recent conference.

You are at a church that doesn’t share your theology or seems to be heading in the wrong theological direction. Naturally, you are concerned and want to do something about it. You are sad to see your church change for the worse or sad to see your church less than what it should be. You wonder what you can do to help get things on track.

This situation usually arises for one of two reasons. Either you have recently come to a better theological understanding yourself and now see deficiencies in your pastor and in your church which you didn’t see before, or your church recently brought in a new pastor who is setting things on a different theological trajectory. There are, of course, variations to these two scenarios. Maybe you were brought on staff at a theologically weak church. Maybe your pastor has been drifting in recent years. Maybe your church just allowed something you disagree with (or just disallowed something you agree with). There are several permutations to the problem, but the basic contours stay the same: either you’ve changed or the church has changed, and the result in both cases is that the two aren’t lining up like they used to.

So what should you do?

Seven Suggestions

1. Pray for a humble heart. Make sure you aren’t being censorious. Check for plank-in-eye syndrome. Be sure you are giving your pastor and your church the benefit of the doubt. Ask the Lord for an open heart and an open mind.

2. Take note of your position. How you think about laboring for change in your church, and how you think of whether to work for change at all, has everything to do with your position in the church. Have you been at the church for decades or did you join two months ago? Have you proved yourself as a faithful servant in the body? Are you one of the official leaders of the church? An informal leader? A staff member? One of the others elders or pastors? The more designated authority you have–either by virtue of office, by virtue of maturity, or by virtue of years of service–the more you should do to work for change. The less you have, the less you should try to do.

3. Try to discern the relative importance of your concerns. Are you upset about preferences or about something more serious? Are your concerns about the character of your pastor or his personality? Are your theological concerns weighty or trivial? And if they are weighty, are they up for discussion in your church? If you’ve come to the Reformed faith in the midst of a Wesleyan church you have no business trying to make that congregation in the image of the Westminster Confession. Likewise, people in confessional churches (e.g., Reformed, Presbyterian, Lutheran) should not be surprised when their pastors teach the faith expressly laid down in their historic tradition.

4. Don’t talk up your concerns. Beware of building up an ever expanding circle of discontents. You may have to talk to a few persons for counsel. You may even know many other likeminded persons in the congregation. But your goal must not be to create a church within a church.

5. Consider encouraging your pastor with positive reinforcement. Find what you can commend and commend it. If your pastor is in need of more theological precision and development you may be able to give him good books to read–not usually polemical books championing your agenda, but positive devotional and theological works that give him a taste for sound doctrine. Maybe you can nudge your pastor toward a good conference or even take him to one yourself. If he is young or simply drifting a bit, your pastor may be open to gentle strengthening and redirection.

6. Consider prayerfully the course of direct confrontation. The pastor is not beyond correction. He can make mistakes. He can fall into error. He can get off track. He can grow proud. If after prayerful reflection you conclude that your concerns are serious and the trajectory worsening, set up a time to talk to your pastor or elders directly. I’ve never begrudged anyone coming to me with thoughtful concerns in a kind, humble way. Sometimes I agree with them. Sometimes I disagree. But I’m glad when they come to me or one of the elders directly.

7. Consider when it is time to leave. If your new theological convictions are out of step with the entire history and identity of the church, it’s best not to strategize for underground change. If a new pastor has come in and is moving things in a very different direction–with the full knowledge and blessing of the elders and with enthusiasm from most of the congregation–it’s best not to start a grassroots movement for reformation. If you’ve tried direct communication and the pastor or leaders tell you, in effect, “Thank you, but we see things a different way,” it’s best not to fight them tooth and nail. If David did not lay a hand on Saul as the Lord’s anointed, we should be very cautious about launching a guerrilla movement to take down our duly-appointed pastors and elders.

In rare occasions where the theological differences amount to heresy (or are clearly out of bounds with your confessional documents), or when your personal concerns relate to scandalous behavior, you may pursue church discipline and file charges, but only if you are following the steps of Matthew 18. In most cases where members are concerned with the direction of the church, the issues are important but not so egregious as to merit a formal process of discipline. In these instances, after working through steps 1-6 (and doing so with patience, not in a fit of passion), the concerned church member can either peaceably submit or quietly leave.

Summing Up

Please hear what I am saying and not saying. I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk to your pastor or work for change. I’m not saying the local congregation is the personal fiefdom for the pastor. I’m not saying pastors can’t learn much from laypeople in the congregation. What I am saying is that practically you should not spend your life trying to do what has very little chance of success, theologically you should obey and respect your leaders, and spiritually you should not be divisive.

And lest this sound like I’m trying to protect my turf as a pastor, let me make clear that I am not addressing this question because it is a live issue in my congregation. I’m thinking of good folks in other churches who largely share my theology and have the very good desire to influence their local church for good. That’s what I took to be the context for the question at the conference. I want to commend these brothers and sisters for their discernment and encourage them in prizing theological depth and integrity. But we should also remember that seeking the things that make for “unity, purity, and peace” (as our membership vows put it), sometimes entails being peaceable enough to find unity with another body that has the purity you are looking for.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin DeYoung

I am the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church(RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. I’ve been the pastor there since 2004. I was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I root for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. I have been married to Trisha since January 2002. We live in East Lansing and have five young children.

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Clarity Process

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5 Reasons Pastors Should Read Over Their Heads

Whenever I talk about reading I try to throw in a lot of disclaimers. Reading is my “thing.” It’s what comes easily to me (more easily than, say, personal evangelism). So I always want to be careful that I don’t impose my passions on everyone else.

But even with that caveat, I encourage pastors to regularly read over their heads. This will mean different things to different men, but what I have in mind is the reading of academic writing. Well-meaning people sometimes call me a leading theologian or a scholar, but I’m not anything close to either. I write books, and hopefully my theology is pretty careful and pretty sound, but none of this means I do what real scholars do.

Very, very, very (did I say “very”) few pastors are called to engage in the highest levels of scholarship at the same time as pastoring a congregation. It’s just not possible, at least not for very long. But most pastors should still make it a point to jump into the deep end of the pool and get in over their heads once in awhile.

Let me give you a few reasons why.

  1. Reading scholarly stuff keeps you learning and learning keeps you fresh. Most Christian books are fairly derivative. This isn’t necessarily bad. It just means that if you read nothing but the new releases on your Christian bookstore, you may not be challenged with new insights and new ideas on old topics and old truths.
  2. Reading scholarly stuff keeps you humble. Granted, there is garbage in the academic world as much as there is garbage anywhere. But if you read an excellent scholarly work, like Richard Muller on Post-Reformation Reformed Theology or Scott Manetsch’s new book on Calvin’s Company of Pastors, you’ll realize that you don’t know nearly as much as you thought. This can make you jealous or make you despair. Or it can make you humble and thankful. Even those of us who think we are well read, could be outpaced by an earnest grad student in most areas within a couple weeks.
  3. Reading scholarly stuff keeps you hungry. When I read bad academic work I want to laugh, then cry, then ask for my money back. But when I read excellent work, I get excited to fill in the gaps of my knowledge and make connections I’ve never made before. Good pastors are voraciously curious—about people, about history, about the Bible, and about knowledge. Stay thirsty, my friends.
  4. Reading scholarly stuff keeps you balanced. Again, I’m thinking of the fine academic work, not esoteric gibberish. When you read excellent scholarship you realize two important things: One, some of the sound bites and catch phrases that pass for good thinking and exegetical insights do not deserve to be taken seriously. And two, some of the confident assertions we make deserve to be more nuanced.
  5. Reading scholarly stuff keeps you edified. We live in a place and in a time with an incredible wealth of Christian resources. We have many fine scholars teaching in our schools and seminaries. Most of them genuinely want to serve the church and further the cause of Christ. They have done us a tremendous favor by learning foreign languages, digging around in the desert, or hunkering down in archives, or committing years of their lives to a single person, place, or idea. Let’s take advantage of the best of their labors.

What does this mean for you as a pastor? I can’t say for sure. But consider subscribing to a good journal like Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society) or Westminster Theological Journal. Don’t dismiss every book that costs more than you think it’s worth. Plow through a book on your shelf that only makes sense half of the time. Find an area or a person you are really interested in and take a few months to read as much as you can. Try to peruse at least one scholarly monograph each year. And best of all, don’t be afraid to read the old, big books that these men and women are writing about.

Read more from Kevin here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin DeYoung

I am the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church(RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. I’ve been the pastor there since 2004. I was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I root for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. I have been married to Trisha since January 2002. We live in East Lansing and have five young children.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Don’t Let the Screen Strangle Your Soul, Part 2

Let me suggest three ways in which the digital revolution, for all its benefits, is also an accomplice to our experience of being hassled, frazzled, and crazy busy. For if we understand the threats, we may have some hope of finding a way forward.In Part 1 of this post, I talked about the first, addiction.

Second, there is the threat of acedia. Acedia is an old word roughly equivalent to “sloth” or “listlessness.” It is not a synonym for leisure, or even laziness. Acedia suggests indifference and spiritual forgetfulness. It’s like the dark night of the soul, but more blah, more vanilla, less interesting. As Richard John Neuhaus explains, “Acedia is evenings without number obliterated by television, evenings neither of entertainment nor of education but of narcoticized defense against time and duty. Above all, acedia is apathy, the refusal to engage the pathos of other lives and of God’s life with them” (Freedom for Ministry, 227).

For too many of us, the hustle and bustle of electronic activity is a sad expression of a deeper acedia. We feel busy, but not with a hobby or recreation or play. We are busy with busyness. Rather than figure out what to do with our spare minutes and hours, we are content to swim in the shallows and pass our time with passing the time. How many of us, growing too accustomed to the acedia of our age, feel this strange mix of busyness and lifelessness? We are always engaged with our thumbs, but rarely engaged with our thoughts. We keep downloading information, but rarely get down into the depths of our hearts. That’s acedia—purposelessness disguised as constant commotion.

All of this leads directly to the third threat of our digital world and that’s the danger that we are never alone. When I say “never alone,” I’m not talking about Big Brother watching over us or the threat of security breaches. I’m talking about our desire to never be alone. Peter Kreeft is right: “We want to complexify our lives. We don’t have to, we want to. We wanted to be harried and hassled and busy. Unconsciously, we want the very things we complain about. For if we had leisure, we would look at ourselves and listen to our hearts and see the great gaping hole in our hearts and be terrified, because that hole is so big that nothing but God can fill it.” (Christianity for Modern Pagans, 168).

Sometimes I wonder if I’m so busy because I’ve come to believe the lie that busyness is the point. And nothing allows us to be busy—all the time, with anyone anywhere—like having the whole world in a little black rectangle in your pocket. In Hamlet’s Blackberry, William Powers likens our digital age to a gigantic room. In the room are more than a billion people. But despite its size, everyone is in close proximity to everyone else. At any moment someone may come up and tap you on the shoulder—a text, a hit, a comment, a tweet, a post, a message, a new thread. Some people come up to talk business, others to complain, others to tell secrets, others to flirt, others to sell you things, others to give you information, others just to tell you what they’re thinking or doing. This goes on day and night. Powers calls it a “non-stop festival of human interaction” (xii).

We enjoy the room immensely—for awhile. But eventually we grow tired of the constant noise. We struggle to find a personal zone. Someone taps us while we’re eating, while we’re sleeping, while we’re on a date. We even get tapped in the bathroom for crying out loud. So we decide to take a digital vacation, just a short one. But no one else seems to know where the exit is. No one else seems interested in leaving. In fact, they all seem put off that you might not want to stay. And even when you find the exit and see the enchanting world through the opening, you aren’t sure what life will be like on the other side. It’s a leap of faith to jump out and see what happens.

The point of Power’s parable should be self-evident. Like Tolkien’s ring, we love the room and hate the room. We want to breathe the undistracted air of digital independence, but increasingly the Room is all we know. How can we walk out when everyone else is staying in? How will we pass our time and occupy our thoughts with the unceasing tap, tap, tap? For many of us, the Web is like the Eagles’ Hotel California: we can check out anytime we like, but we can never leave.

And the scariest part is that we may not want to leave. What if we prefer endless noise to the deafening sound of silence? What if we do not care to hear God’s still, small voice? What if the trivialities and distractions of our day are not forced upon us by busyness, or forced upon us at all? What if we choose to be busy so that we can continue to live with trivia and distraction? If “digital busyness is the enemy of depth” (17)  then we are bound to be stuck in the shallows so long as we’re never alone. Our digital age gives new relevance to Pascal’s famous line: “I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.”

Or stay out of the room, as the case may be.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin DeYoung

I am the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church(RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. I’ve been the pastor there since 2004. I was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I root for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. I have been married to Trisha since January 2002. We live in East Lansing and have five young children.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Don’t Let the Screen Strangle Your Soul, Part 1

The first time I really became aware of the full intensity of the problem was in a conversation with a couple students training for the ministry.

I was speaking at one of our top seminaries when after the class two men came up to me in private to ask a question. I could tell by the way they were speaking quietly and shifting their eyes that they had something awkward to say. I was sure they were going to talk about pornography. And sure enough, they wanted to talk about their struggles with the internet. But it wasn’t porn they were addicted to. It was social media. They told me they couldn’t stop looking at Facebook; they were spending hours on blogs and mindlessly surfing the web.

This was several years ago, and I didn’t know how to help them. I hadn’t encountered this struggle before, and I wasn’t immersed in it myself. Five years later: I have, and I am.

I used to make fun of bloggers. I used to lampoon Facebook. I used to laugh at Twitter. In my life I’ve never been an early adopter with technology. I’ve never cared what Steve Jobs was up to. I used to roll my eyes at technophiles.

Until I became one.

Now I have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, a Bluetooth headset, an iPhone, an iPad, wifi at work and at home, cable t.v., a Wii, a Blu-ray player, multiple email accounts, and unlimited texting. Pride comes before a fall.

I was born in 1977 so I can remember life before the digital revolution. In college we had to go to a computer lab to get on the internet, which wasn’t a big deal because nothing happened on email and I didn’t see anything interesting online. By the time I was in seminary, however, things had changed. Email was a vital way to communicate and the internet was how my friends and I were getting our news (and doing Fantasy Football). But even then (in the late 90s and early 2000s) life was far less connected. I only got an internet connection in my room part way through seminary–one of those loud, lumbering ack-ack dial-up monstrosities. I didn’t have a cell phone in high school, college, or graduate school. As little as four or five years ago I didn’t do anything on my phone and barely accessed the internet at home. I’m not suggesting those days were purer and nobler, but my life felt less scattered and less put upon. Something has changed. A lot, actually.

What Are the Threats?

Much has been written and will be written about our insatiable appetite for the screen. I’ll leave it to others to decide if Google makes us stupid and whether young people are more or less relational than ever before. Let me simply suggest three ways in which the digital revolution, for all its benefits, is also an accomplice to our experience of being hassled, frazzled, and crazy busy. For if we understand the threats, we may have some hope of finding a way forward.

First, there is the threat of addiction. That may sound like too strong a word, but that’s what it is. Could you go a whole day without looking at Facebook? Could you go an afternoon without looking at your phone? What about two days away from email? Even if someone promised there would be no emergencies and no new work would come in, we’d still have a hard time staying away from screen. The truth is many of us can’t not click. We can’t step away, even for a few hours, let alone a few days or weeks.

In his bestselling book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr reflects on how his attitude toward the web has changed. In 2005—the year he says the “Web went 2.0″—he found the digital experience exhilarating. He loved how blogging junked the traditional publishing apparatus. He loved the speed of the internet, the ease, the hyperlinks, the search engines, the sound, the videos, everything.

But then, he recalls, “a serpent of doubt slithered into my infoparadise” (15). He realized that the Net had control over his life in a way his traditional PC never did. His habits were changing, morphing to accommodate a digital way of life. He became dependent on the internet for information and stimulation. He found his ability to pay attention declining. “At first I’d figured that the problem was a symptom of middle-age mind rot. But my brain, I realized, wasn’t just drifting. It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the way the Net fed it—and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became. Even when I was away from my computer, I yearned to check e-mail, click links, do some Googling. I wanted to be connected” (16).

I’ve noticed the same thing happening to me for the past few years. Unless I’m really in a groove, I can’t seem to work for more than twenty minutes without getting the urge to check my email, glance at a blog, or get caught up on Twitter. It’s a terrible feeling. In a postscript to The Shallows, Carr explains that after his book came out he heard from dozens of people (usually by email) who wanted to share their own stories of how the Web had “scattered their attention, parched their memory, or turned them into compulsive nibblers of info-snacks.” One college senior sent Carr a long note describing how he had struggled “with a moderate to major form of Internet addiction” since the third grade. “I am unable to focus on anything in a deep or detailed manner” the student wrote. “The only thing my mind can do, indeed the only thing it wants to do, is plug back into that distracted frenzied blitz of online information.” He confessed this, even thought he was sure that “the happiest and most fulfilled times of my life have all involved a prolonged separation from the Internet” (226). Many of us are simply overcome—hour after hour, day after day—by the urge to connect online. And as Christians we know that “whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19).

Read Part 2 here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin DeYoung

I am the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church(RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. I’ve been the pastor there since 2004. I was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I root for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. I have been married to Trisha since January 2002. We live in East Lansing and have five young children.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The 3 R’s of Christian Engagement in the Culture War

I know, I know—you really don’t like the term “culture war.” The mission of the church is not to “reclaim” America. The growth of the church does not rely on political victories or societal approval. And we don’t want the people we are trying to reach to think we are at war with them. I understand the phrase sounds more aggressive, confrontational, and militaristic than we like.

But call it what you want—a culture war, a battle of ideas, an ideological struggle—there is no question we have deep division in America. The most obvious division right now concerns homosexuality. When Dan Cathy’s off-handed, rather ordinary comment in of support traditional marriage sends big city mayors out on their moral high horses wielding the coercive club of political power—and when the subsequent response from middle America is a record-breaking avalanche of support for Chick-fil-A—you know there is more than a skirmish afoot. I know every generation thinks they are facing unprecedented problems, but it really does feel like free speech, religious freedom, and the institution of marriage are up for grabs in our day.

Given this reality, how should Christians respond?

Let me suggest three R’s.

1. No Retreat. In the face of controversy and opposition, it’s always tempting to withdraw into friendlier confines. But working for the public good is part of loving our neighbors as ourselves. The pietistic impulse to simply focus on winning hearts and minds does not sufficiently appreciate the role of institutions and the importance of giving voice to truth in the public square. Conversely, the progressive impulse to stay quiet for fear that we’ll invalidate our witness is a misguided strategy to win over the world by letting them win. Either that or a disingenuous attempt to hide the fact they’ve already sold the ethical farm.

2. No Reversal. No matter the pressure, we must never deviate from the word of God to please the powers of the world (Rom. 12:1-2). This principle does not automatically determine the course of action in every sphere, for politics must sometimes be the art of compromise. But as far as our doctrinal commitments, our pulpit preaching, and our public values, we mustn’t give a single inch if that inch takes us away from the truth of Scripture (John 10:35). He who marries the spirit of the age becomes a widower in the next. The church is not built on theological novelty, and souls are not won by sophisticated ambiguity. Whoever is ashamed of Christ and his words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also will be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels (Mark 8:38).

3. No Reviling. If this is a battle, then the followers of Christ must be a different kind of army. Even when our passions run high, our compassion must run deep. There is no place for triumphalism, cynicism, and settling scores. We must be happy, hopeful warriors.  When reviled, we must not revile or threaten in return, but entrust ourselves to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). We must not be surprised by suffering (1 Peter 4:12). We must not hate when we are hated (Matt. 5:43-44). And when we rest peacefully at night may it not be because all men think well of us or because the culture reflects our values, but because our conscience is clear (1 Peter 3:16). In the fight against powers and principalities we must never go away, never give in, and never give up on love.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin DeYoung

I am the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church(RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. I’ve been the pastor there since 2004. I was born in Chicagoland, but grew up mostly in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. I root for da Bears, da Bulls, da Blackhawks, the White Sox, and the Spartans. I have been married to Trisha since January 2002. We live in East Lansing and have five young children.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
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What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
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