The Uncomfortable Truth

Anyone, under the age of 50 and not raised in a home where dad worked regularly but finances weren’t good enough for the family to refuse government butter, will likely not appreciate this analogy. Socks, basic cotton socks, when worn regularly for at least eight hours at a time, lose any sense of comfort after they have been darned more than three or four times. When the thread is tied it gathers, irritatingly, right where the toes bend. After enough darning, the socks are shortened so much they can only be worn if you scrintch your toes up. I suspect that the heavier dark line most socks have across the toe was first meant as a failsafe line for darning socks no further so as not to risk permanent deformity of the feet! There is no doubt. The truth about darned socks is darn uncomfortable!

Most Americans no longer darn socks. Most probably have no idea what the term means. Discarding what is used and lightly worn, replacing it with something new is the theme of our society. Few things are irreplaceable or so it seems. One of the casualties of our penchant for pitching out the old for something new is our ability to discard the uncomfortable truths of our day. When there is something particularly invasive to our individual sense of privilege, we simply discard it and replace it with a new truth. Many people have found a way to make their opinions sacrosanct and inviolate. They proclaim tolerance as long as no one ever dare claim there is an absolute truth. Christians have become the target for all those who avow tolerance as their moniker, refusing, of course, to be tolerant of those who follow Christ.

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In a recent book review published in National Review (Nov. 2019), Madeline Kearns makes a most authentic argument. “But where telling the truth becomes impractical for the many, it becomes moral duty for the few – those who are not answerable to compromised hierarchies.”[i] The moral duty of the few is to hold to the truth, no matter the consequences. Absolute truth does not change regardless of the centuries which have passed. In the very first century, Christians saw it as their moral duty to hold to the truth and they knew the consequences would not be pleasant. Whether the compromised hierarchies were a Roman senate, a medieval feudal king, an 18th Century privileged class, Russian czars of the 19th century, 20th century national socialists or the current days’ public demands for political correctness, adherence to truth remains our moral duty.

General Robert E. Lee, a graduate of West Point and commander of all Confederate forces during the American Civil War believed duty to be the most precious word in the English language. He is quoted, “Duty then is the sublimest (sic) word in the English language. You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more…”[ii] Ellen Sturgess Hooper, a poet and contemporary of Lee’s, though she lived only to the age of 36 wrote, “I slept and dreamed that life was beauty. I woke and found that life was duty.”[iii]

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon, a 19th century English theologian wrote, “But, then, let me remark further, while there is this temptation not to declare all the counsel of God, the true minister of Christ feels impelled to preach the whole truth, because it and it alone can meet the wants of man… I cannot imagine a more ready instrument in the hands of Satan for the ruin of souls than a minister who tells sinners that it is not their duty to repent of their sins or to believe in Christ, and who has the arrogance to call himself a gospel minister, while he teaches that God hates some men infinitely and unchangeably for no reason whatever but simply because he chooses to do so.”[iv] Spurgeon saw the threat associated with teaching only the parts of the Bible that were practical or comfortable under the current pressures of the culture. It was the duty of pastors to preach the whole counsel of God, not just what seemed practical or comfortable.

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In our world today, political correctness is all the rage and those who enforce it the strongest rage vehemently against any who claim to know truth.  Jesus posited “The truth shall set you free” as recorded in the book of John, chapter 8. Jesus was making a point to the religious leaders about their own slavery to sin and to know Him was to know truth and to be set free. The freedom Jesus spoke of was the freedom from sin’s grasp. We choose instead to be subject to and owned by the one who loves us infinitely and will only provide for our good. The one is Jesus Christ. His word is inviolate and immutable. That is, it is unaltered and unchanging. It proclaims certain actions to be sinful. However, those who   proclaim what God’s Word teaches, the public of today says they and the church are unloving or uncaring. Like a set of darned socks, parts of God’s Word are just plain uncomfortable. It remains the duty of Christians then to learn how to hate the sin as God hates it and at the same time love the sinner.

One place where Christians often falter is that we believe it is up to us to perfect or clean up our fellow sinner when that is not our role.  Ours is to love our fellow humans with a love which shows Christ and trust that God is big enough to do whatever work is needed in that person’s life as well as our own.

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NATIONAL TREASURE, Nicolas Cage, 2004, (c) Touchstone/courtesy Everett Collection

I’ve gone this far without any movie reference. Well, here it is. The movie is National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates. He paraphrases a section of the Declaration of Independence. “If there’s something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.” Christians living in today’s world, just like Christians living in every century since the 1st one, have the responsibility, the duty to take action when there is something wrong. Life is not a spectator sport.

Life as a Christian is not just one of active participation, it is one of being all in, with every part of your life. It does not mean we stomp through our culture damning all that is wrong and expounding why we are the only ones who have the truth. If anyone had the right to do that, it was Christ. We must live within our culture as Christ did within His. I believe it is one of the reasons God came to us incarnate, to provide an example of living life and loving others while going about the work of the ministry.

Few things are as uncomfortable as walking around in darned socks. In the first century they simply wore sandals, maybe that is the answer… except for those of us who live near or in the snow belt! Living life as a subject of the one who is Truth can sometimes be very uncomfortable. Maybe that is why Jesus gave a special blessing for those who are persecuted for His sake and when you are persecuted but have done no wrong. Still, we are not to be bulls in china shops with our faith, banging people over the heads with our Bibles. On the same token, we don’t just sit by quietly like a whipped puppy. We do have something to say in our society and as uncomfortable as the truth may be, when we speak it in love, God blesses. Those of us who have the ability to take action, have the duty to take action…Darn it!

[i] Madeline Kearns (National Review Nov.  11,2019) Book review: The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity by Douglas Murray




   Spurgeon, Charles Haddon on Whole Truth and Man’s Duty

Finding Our Place in Heaven

We can live each day, joyously, victoriously, in grateful appreciation of the heavenly home that has already got our name on the mailbox!

Recently we treated the topic of having only about ten minutes left in your life and knowing that it was soon to be over. The topic was spurred on by the recent crash of a Lufthansa flight into the side of the Alps, apparently on purpose. Those on the flight would have known for about ten minutes that they were about to crash. Today we want to take that a step further and consider finding our place in heaven. As we mentioned in the previous offering  there is no biblical support for St. Peter standing at the pearly gates of heaven deciding who should or should not enter.  The GOOD news is that for those who have accepted Christ as Savior, they are already in heaven! You ask how that could possibly be since every morning you wake up and you are still living and working on the mortal plain. If we read what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, the Lord has already given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places and predestined us to adoption. What Paul is helping the Ephesians to understand is that if they had accepted Christ’s forgiveness for their sins, then they were already citizens of the heavenly kingdom. Perhaps an analogy will help us to understand it a little bit better. God had already created a way for us to be adopted us as His children.

Imagine, if you will, that you are a child whose father was in the US Air Force stationed in Germany. When you were born you were born on the U.S. Air base but within the country of Germany. Because you are the child of a U.S. airman you are automatically a citizen of the United States even though you have never set foot in the U.S. Someday you will travel with your parents back to the U.S. and when you arrive you will have credentials that show you are a U.S. citizen even though you have never been in the U.S. and you are immediately admitted. You were, positionally, a U.S. citizen though you had never been in the U.S. That is what Paul meant when he said that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Just as the child of an American has all the freedoms and rights of every other citizen positionally without ever having been in the country or, for the believer who is positionally a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, never yet having been in the heavenly places.

Paul writes that we were preordained to adoption as sons. Let us use the same example only with an adoption. The U.S. airman and his wife are living in Germany. Both are U.S. citizens. They have an opportunity to adopt an infant who is of German descent. He is, in fact, a German citizen. Once they adopt the little German infant the boy becomes a citizen of the United States positionally because he has never been in the U.S. and was not born there. In this scenario we will make it so that as he gets older, to have his American citizenship he must renounce his German citizenship. He may still have not been inside the United States physically, in fact he may still live in Germany; but his position is one of a full U.S. citizen; adopted as a son of a citizen and given full rights as a citizen. No one will dare deny him access because he is already a citizen. Imagine if when he got to the entry point and they learned that he was the son of the president! The welcome home mat would certainly be rolled out!

When we accept our position as a child of God we will walk up to those gates as a Child of the King; a royal heir to all that is God’s! Talk about a red carpet arrival! The Bible tells us that the angels marvel at us because of what God has done for us. They have been with God since He created them, yet they can never experience being the recipient of the full love we have received and can never be adopted as God’s children. As a Christ-follower, we are children of the King with full citizenship in heaven, instilled with all the rights and responsibilities that are part of our citizenship in heaven.

That is the meaning of Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 1. I trust it will provide you with comfort knowing that you, if you have accepted Christ as Savior, have already attained your position in heaven. Jesus said, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself. What a spiritual blessing in the heavens we have already received that our place has been secured, Paul writes, that it is sealed by the Holy Spirit. For those who argue then that we can somehow lose our place there is to believe that we, as failed human beings, Jesus said He understood that we were dust, could take something away from God who has sealed us with the Holy Spirit! Those who live in such a way that one would say they would be in danger of losing their salvation should examine themselves to see if they ever had salvation to begin with. Like the seed that fell on shallow ground and never took root; many need to return to the cross and seek that original forgiveness and then their lives will be eternally changed. The outcome of their human life will be radically different.  Praise God for that!

We have covered a great deal of theology in one lesson but perhaps a reminder for us all. We can live each day joyously, victoriously and in grateful appreciation of the heavenly home that has already got our name on the mailbox!

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