Perusal* – Summer 2015, A Greater Love!

(* perusal; to examine or consider with attention and in detail)

John 15:12-25, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.  If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.  Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

“Love wins!” proclaimed the “winners” of the decision made by the SCOTUS on June 26, 2015. Did love win in the manner that Jesus declared to his disciples in John 15?  And does the “rest of the story” in John 15, the scriptures that follow about the “world hates you…” does that paint a picture of what may lie beneath the 5-4 decision?  Would anyone have dreamed twenty years ago when the Defense of Marriage Act was passed that five academics and lawyers would unilaterally redefine for America the crucible of all human foundations – marriage?

A great deal could be written about the ramifications of this decision, but let’s briefly examine how America evolved to this point.  Recently our country celebrated July 4th, the two hundred and thirty ninth anniversary of our Declaration of Independence.  Thomas Jefferson, its author, wrote that human liberty was grounded in self-evident truth, meaning that truth is not an individual right, but is discovered by careful and courageous examination of verifiable facts.  Justice Anthony Kennedy redefined Jefferson’s understanding of truth in a 1992 SCOTUS decision, reaffirming the Roe v. Wade abortion disaster of 1973.  He wrote, “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Sounds like the lines from a Seinfeld episode in the nineties, “it isn’t a lie if you believe it to be true.”

What does it matter if two men or women “love” each other?  How could that possibly impact anyone?  Well, it has.  Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla (Firefox) was forced to resign because he made a $1000 donation to California’s Proposition 8, the ballot measure on which the people of California voted to ban same-sex marriages.  Chick-fil-A was banned from Chicago and Boston because the mayors disagreed with the traditional marriage position of the CEO of the fast food chain.  And many more; the hundreds of peripheral businesses that support the wedding industry that have refused or may refuse to cater a gay wedding, have already been impacted because a rabid judicial branch took it upon themselves to tell the American people that most of us have been wrong-headed, intolerant, and just plain stupid when it comes to our God-given right to ascribe to heterosexual marriage. 

This really should not surprise anyone. For many years marriage has suffered at the hands of self-indulgent men and women bent on redefining it for themselves.  Child and spousal abuse has risen substantially because a decline in strong, healthy marriages has corrupted our basic understanding of the true nature of marriage.  Folks are always looking for their soul-mate, and should they be found outside of their current marriage, just divorce to find true happiness and personal fulfillment.  Justices Kennedy, Sotomayor, Kagan, Breyer, and Ginsburg did not arrive at these conclusions single-handedly, they only tapped into the drift in our culture and identified with the “truth is what I define it to be “crowd.

Added to the marriage confusion is the transgender illusion. Is all of our existence now defined by what I may feel at any particular point in my life?  What if I get it wrong and make a decision that later I come to regret?  Many amoral people our confused about who they are and about their place in humanity.  These decisions have troubled men and women since creation – Adam sought to disbelieve what God told him clearly and ventured into disobedience.  And so it goes.  Submission to and directed by the living Word of God provides the hope for clarity.  “These things I command you”, Jesus stated.  Humanity must grasp the unalterable fact that there is an Authority greater than our feeble, duplicitous minds.

 

There was a time in our nation that truth was defined as Jefferson and most everyone before him knew it to be. Trevin Wax, editor of Lifeway Resources, wrote recently, “The reality is, it takes absolutely no courage in an age of self-expression to create and live by your own standards. Instead, true courage is not deciding for yourself what is “right and wrong,” but seeking to discover what truly is right and wrong — for yourself and for everybody else. It takes courage to look outside yourself, to bind your heart to an ideal that is bigger than your own set of standards, to investigate truth rather than invent it.”

 

Flat Creek, a number of years ago witnessing the amoral and immoral drift of the USA, added a clarification to our church constitution, that basically states that marriages which take place in the Flat Creek Baptist Church will be celebrated between a man and woman only.  Thousands of years of human history supports this, but, more importantly, God's word is unalterable in its declaration for intimacy between those created male and female. 

Jesus confirmed marriage as between a man and woman in Matthew 19.  The truth is, the love of Christ is greater than ANY human love.  And when He loves in grace it causes division. Grace disrupts our predilection for works based acceptance, whether in marriage or life as a whole.  Grace is disruptive before it is redemptive.  He knew all of His followers would become hated by the world, because he knew grace drives a stake deep into the heart of self-made truth.  Homosexual marriage is not the world’s greatest sin; unbelief fits that bill. “I am the way, and the truth, and life…” Jesus exclaimed.  Yes, Christ Jesus takes everyone as they are, but He does not leave us to wallow in the fantasy land of our own trumped up truth.  He would call this a lie.  He laid down his life so that we might be changed by his message of truth.  The good news is that he went willingly to a cross to pay His father’s ransom for all sin, any sin, even unbelief.  No greater love than this has ever existed!

Sola Deo Gloria! Pastor Carey