It’s been a week filled with all kinds of hoopla in Christian blogger-land. I believe the issue is much bigger than the players involved, so I’ll stick to the bare facts for starters. On one side, we have an ultra popular Christian author for (Jen Hatmaker) who came out on her blog in support of traditional marriage last year but has since deleted said post and apparently done some rethinking. She did an interview affirming her support for gay unions, and lamenting the Christian church’s response to them as a whole, not being inclusive enough, etc. Not surprisingly, she got called out. Lifeway dropped her books. Other Christian bloggers countered her arguments. And it takes off from there. I really want to address the bigger issue of what is happening right now which is the idea of Christian compromise. Is it the crazy election year that seems to have brought all this bubbling to the surface? Perhaps. As the world demands more “tolerance” out of believing Christians, the shake up is inevitable. The days of just drifting by are coming to an end. Christians are either standing up or walking away – those really are the only two choices. Can we stand up for truth and not be hateful? Yes. It’s not up to us if the world receives the message or not, but it is not hateful to disagree, it is sometimes necessary.
“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” DA Carson
Like a steady rain shower, the slow but relentless stream of compromise is eroding our very foundations. What started out as well-intentioned tolerance has become full-fledged spiritual dilution. We’ve been told our beliefs are passé at best, hateful and bigoted at worst, so we stop. We quit speaking truth in love. Attacked from every side, we cave. Not because we don’t love God or desire to be a light for Him, we simply don’t value His word above the worlds voice. Period. The truth seems harsh. God’s way is confusing to a world so given over to selfishness and sin. It requires surrender.
I’ve read enough of Jen Hatmakers books and blogs to know that she has a heart to help people who are hurting. She has a magnetic wit and humor and compassion for people that most of us wish we could muster up. Thats a calling.
Here’s the inevitable “but”… When we live man-centered instead of Christ-centered, we are bound to go down the road of compromise. Well-meaning Christians can empathize to the point where they actually take on everyones burden. Instead of walking along side someone and directing them OUT of their sin (through prayer and God’s Word), it’s more acceptable (and easier) to SIT DOWN with them in the midst of it and embrace it for what it is, accepting it and sometimes even celebrating it.
Timothy warned us of this compromise saying many would come who “have the appearance of godliness, but denying it’s power.” (2 Timothy 3:5) People who claim Christ but deny His power to do anything to really help the situation. The logical conclusion to that thinking is to just embrace the sin and compromise your once held beliefs.
This isn’t just about Jen Hatmaker or about the gay rights debate. This is about how we as Christians deal with sin and compromise. It’s increasingly difficult to reconcile what God’s Word says with a world so diametrically opposed to Him. Every time we compromise some of His truth to fit the world’s ever-changing idea of what is acceptable, it gets more fuzzy. Suddenly, here we are. Well-respected Christian authors and leaders jumping ship and changing their tune to the dismay of some, and the relief of others.
When we don’t abide in God’s Word, the world comes to abide inside us, and the world is hostile to Jesus. We drift. We absorb whatever comes at us. We seek out other truths. As crazy as it sounds, we begin to embrace the world’s sin and question whether Jesus really meant what He said.
We don’t need to smooth out the gospel for anyone. We also shouldn’t ever put so much stock in one human beings opinions and writings as to be totally knocked over when/if they stumble.
Perhaps the Jen Hatmaker ‘debacle’ of this week can teach us at least this – we are all human and susceptible to drifting towards all kinds of idolotry when Jesus isn’t in His proper place in our hearts and lives. This world (and modern progressive Christianity) will squeeze us dry if we let it. We must thirst for the Truth and understand that “God does not lower His standards to accommodate us. He will not tolerate a compromise of character” (RC Sproul). Jesus said it is the TRUTH that sets people free, and I think He meant it. Like a plant that isn’t getting enough water or sunlight, we suffocate under compromise and watered-down Christianity.
Friends, we are called to be salt and light. Truly knowing God and His character leads us to desire holiness. Real love never rejoices in sin but in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). Don’t be rendered passive, church. Compromise can be seen a mile away if we are rooted and grounded in Jesus and His Word. Never allow anyone’s words to have more power over you than those spoken by the One who created you.
I dunno – I think it’s because of Jesus’ teaching and his love and compassion for the least of these that a great many Christians are now switching sides – away from Church and more along the lines of Jesus himself. Jesus said “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, he talked about showing love, mercy, and compassion even to people who aren’t on your side. Too many Christians have failed to be merciful and compassionate and that’s why the faith has lost so many people – a faith that says one thing and does another. Having Jesus’ heart in his day meant that he was on the side of prostitutes and tax collectors and orphans and widows – what might it look like today?
Hi Jamie – I totally agree that there have been Christians who don’t “do unto others” and who have failed at mercy and compassion. I will say however, that the vast majority of churches and Christians I know are simply trying to stay true to God’s character and His Word, which when understood and experienced are full of mercy AND truth. Jesus’ heart for people is never ending grace, mercy and forgiveness. But it’s not a license to just remain in that state indefinitely. He told the woman at the well to go and sin no more. His heart for people is different than His heart toward sin. Yes He was on the side of the prostitutes and tax collectors, but He also never once condoned their behavior. He ate with them in order to show them the truth in who He was so that they may repent and be saved. He was pretty blunt about it. I think too many believers have failed to simply speak the truth in love, which makes all the difference, unless of course someone does not want to be called out, in which case no amount of love will do. Christians can’t just go ahead and condone things the Bible says are sin. Disagreeing does not mean we aren’t compassionate, it means we disagree. Jesus hung out with all kinds of people to bring them to repentance and change, to show them theres a better way. So, yes I think Christians can act out of harshness and no love and it turns people off, people need love and the struggle with sin (for everyone) is very real. But we also need truth. I think thats what Jesus’ love would look like today – speaking the truth to people in love.
Yes, Jamie. Our Lord loved the sinner, but he never tolerated the sin. He told the prostitute to turn from her life of sin and follow Him. Do you know how many times the word “tolerance” is mentioned in the Bible?…Zero. If we are truly loving our neighbour, we must lead them to The Lord. Condoning sin is counter to that my friend. Peace.