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An Ambassador in Enemy Territory and A Citizen of Heaven

I created this chart today. It’s a work in progress, and it has its flaws, but I think it generally shows the proper worldview for a Christian. A true believer is in the world, but not of the world. We sometimes participate in government and politics, but a true Christian does not place his or her identity in any political party, because we know who is really in charge. That doesn’t mean we don’t see how one political party might share more of our moral values than another. But unless God’s Word is the compass to the political party, it is going in the wrong direction;which is all political parties. True believers in Christ may vary in some values, but those values find their roots in God’s Word, not culture, experiences, or sentiments. We are citizens in the Kingdom of God. (Philippians 3:20) As the Apostle Paul considered his citizenship as a Hebrew of Hebrews and a Roman citizen, our citizenship as Americans is filthy “rubbish” compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. (Philippians 3:8-10) On every inch of this planet we are only ambassadors in enemy territory, which has always included our nations. The United States has always been enemy territory even in times when Christianity was more acceptable, because the United States is part of the World, and the World is passing away, and has not yet been brought completely under the government of Christ. We do not take our cues about what justice is, or what is moral or kind, from any secular organization. Rather we inform the world about what is just and moral based on God’s Word.

For example, and I didn’t mean for this topic to dominate this post, but this really is a good example: did you know racist Christians do not actually exist? I’m not saying they shouldn’t exist. They actually don’t exist. We are informed of this by the Word of God. “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has.” (1 John 4:20) If we think we have accepted Christ but hate others, we never actually understood what the gospel is, and are not saved.

The world doesn’t get to accuse Christians of sin. The world first needs to believe in Christ and repent, and then remove the plank from their eye, before they can remove any speck from a Christian’s eye.

2020 has also become the year I no longer accept either of the words, “white” or “black” to describe mass amounts of people. In neither case are those words helpful for any reason, but to divide. Our Bible informs us we descended from two parents. We’re all one family. This is Christianity 101. We didn’t need to become “woke” to love our brothers. Christians have been doing this all along, or else we’ve just never understood the gospel, which removed any hostility between Christians and brought peace. (Ephesians 2) He has brought “on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (That is, His people, the Church). The world and its nations and ethnicities have not yet been reconciled to Christ, if they are not yet in Christ. 

It’s impossible to identify any of the visible manifestations of racism with the invisible sin that is racism. What I mean is that racism is real, it really is, but racism is an attitude of the mind and heart. We cannot see racism but only its effects. The problem with this is that its effects are the same as other heart issues. A person may kill another person, and the real issue was lust, or jealousy, or greed, or pride. Calling something racism, then, when the person being accused of racism has not confessed to such a sin, is not only speculation at best, but it is potentially not treating the sin as seriously as we should, because the sin could be worse than racism. It could be a hatred of humanity in general, or even worse, and more likely, a hatred of God. Solving racism then, like other sins, requires looking at resolving the disease, not simply treating the symptoms. Retaliation, vengeance, evening the scales, and “bringing down the hegemony”, or the majority power, is a form of Marxism, and may solve some symptoms of the problem temporarily, but it does not address the disease, which will just manifest itself again and again somewhere else, in an evil heart.

How do you get rid of an evil heart? By allowing God to surgically remove it, and replace it with a new one, figuratively speaking. This is what Ezekiel said would happen hundreds of years ago. God said, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 600 B.C.) Then Jesus came in the first century and said these words, ““If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14)

Christian, we can love the people in the world, but what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14) The world will always be at war, with us, and each other, until Christ returns. Why do some act so surprised at that? Or why do we think we can legislate depraved hearts? Or even affect anyone, morally, without God’s Word and the gospel?

You see, God created the world good and we all have gone astray. God who made the world says that justice for our evil is eternal death. But God loved us so much he came and was born as the man Jesus Christ, who was fully God and fully man, and died the death we deserved. This was to 1) not let our sin go unpunished, being the perfectly just God that he is, but also so that 2) all who agree to accept His justice, rather than their own justice, will have eternal life. This is the gospel. This is the good news.

If you believe Christ died and rose again, satisfying God’s requirements for you, you will live forever with him. If you think you are able to satisfy God’s requirements on your own, you are headed toward God’s perfect justice and judgement which is an eternal conscious wide awake death. The stakes are high and wonderful. Surrender or die continually. Surrender and live forever, with “pleasures by his side forevermore.” This is the message that replaces cold, dead, hateful hearts of stone with new and living ones. This is the message that changes lives. This is the message that brings justice. Not because it’s persuasive, or inspiring, but because it is the very power of God. (Romans 1:16)

Another example of an issue plaguing our world is that of gender, but it’s not new, it’s just happening faster because of population size and technology. As a Christian, I am not threatened by the world’s behavior, which is expected from people without the Spirit of God, but which is to pervert God’s design. The Bible informs us that God created two genders: male and female. No one can make themselves either one. God decides who is male and who is female, just like we didn’t choose our parents, or where we were born. 

So what does this mean practically? It means we love the people in the world who do not yet know Jesus, We love those who are confused, with our primary goal being to show them their need for Christ. We, of course, reveal to them that they are lawbreakers. But always in the same breath, that Jesus has paid the fine and will dismiss their case if they repent of their sin and follow Christ, just as he has done for all of us. But only someone who is a believer in Christ, according to God’s Word, has the Spirit of God in them to discern what is right from wrong according to God’s standards. God has either written His laws on our hearts or he hasn’t!

In the case of Christians, who have repented and believed, we don’t tolerate sin of any kind since Christians are within the church. We gently admonish, discipline, correct, and, in extreme cases,  we “expel” the immoral brother or sister who refuses to listen (by removing from membership). “Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:2) This kind of discipline is the last resort for those who are in persistent, unrepentant sin, who are members of a church. I’m not talking about those outside of membership. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13) I bring these verses up because there is a distinction between who is able to judge who. Many in the world love to remind us that Jesus said not to judge, lest we be judged, and forget that Jesus said, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24) Part of judging with right judgement means knowing who is able to judge who. 1) God judges those outside the church. 2) The Church judges those within the church. 3) The world has absolutely no say. We do not conform to the standard of the world and its shouts for justice and morality. The Church is always in the world but not of it. We’re just in it. These two issues I’ve brought up about gender and race show why it’s no longer clear to talk about “diversity” without clarifying exactly what you mean. The Church is being taught that it is good to be “diverse” and what they are hearing is that sin is acceptable. This is confusing because we are to love every person, certainly. Let me just take a moment to emphasize that this is true, and then I will come back to my original point.

A long parenthetical statement on the need to love people different from us:

We love and care for people who are not Christian because they are made in the image of God and are perishing. I believe Christians do, in fact, need correction when it comes to not doing enough good. Many of us do realize that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and so there is sometimes a lack of good works. This is what Jesus had to say about such Christians when he spoke to the Church of Ephesus, “I know … how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

There is a zeal for doing good that a Christian has when he or she first becomes a Christian. We ought to continue in that zeal. So this is the other side of the coin. Bear with me for a minute longer. There are parts of the shouts of the mobs in the world that happen to agree with the Bible, which is what makes all of this so confusing to the Church. We ought not be deceived by this. But we still ought to take seriously the charge we receive from God to do good in the world. Not social justice, but Biblical justice. Not accepting sin, but truly loving sinners like us, with actions.

Jesus told us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.” (2 Timothy 2:24). We are to be humble, and learn what we can from everyone. Jesus said, “Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.” (Luke 6:30) When the world is begging from us, we give, not because they deserve it, but because Christ commanded us to give. “Everyone who begs from you,” includes the panhandler who is going to spend it on booze. Our responsibility is not what the people do with what we give them, that’s between them and God.

Doing right is still right, even if we are saved by grace. Good works are still good and necessary for God’s people. Jesus said that good trees, which are new creations in Christ, those trees will bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:17-19) God’s Word says that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction… ” (James 1:27). Christian, when is the last time you cared for an orphan, or a widow? Put simply, these are the single moms and the kids without dads, many of whom are in a moral mess. If Jesus simply wanted to prove he was God to the 5,000 he preached to, he could have called down fire from heaven. Instead he fed them all. What a practical and loving and kind thing to do for people who were not innocent!

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.” (Romans 12:16) We are told to associate with the lowly, plain and simple, without regard to whether or not they share our cultural or moral preferences.

With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls we now can see we were never charged with avoiding the “appearance of evil” (KJV) but to avoid actual evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). If we were to avoid the appearance of evil Jesus could never have associated with us or hung on a cross like a criminal. We ought to imitate Jesus and associate with people in the world so much we might be accused of being like them in their evil. This is why Jesus was called a glutton and drunkard (Matthew 11:19). 

Back to the original point:

So doing good is right, but back to my original point: Conviction is for the people of God, and is a work of his Holy Spirit. (John 16:8) Christian I’m asking you that you don’t get confused or scared in this world with all that is going on, and what some so-called Christians and pastors are shouting at you, not because I’m so concerned about your mental or emotional health, but because it’s inappropriate and shameful to be so upset when we have so great a Savior and King.

We don’t confess our sin to the world, we confess our sin to the Church and to God. We don’t find our conviction from the shouts of the world, our conviction is from the Holy Spirit. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) But the world is condemned, and this is the message for them: “Whoever does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:18). I didn’t write that, God did.

And God is fully in charge and is not threatened by evil. He does all that He sets out to accomplish. (Isaiah 46:10) We can and should pray, stand up for what’s right, love all others like we love ourselves, correct Christians when needed, but knowing God has got it. He is teaching and leading his Church. His yoke is easy and his burden is light and we have peace that surpasses understanding. The World has no say in teaching His Church. Jesus said, “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” John 6:45. We get our knowledge and understanding from the Father, not from those whose “Father is the devil.” (John 8:44) All people bear the image of God, but those who are not in Christ do not shine God’s light in their words and actions, and what they speak are only lies, because “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) There is no in between.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in comment section below.

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