“The responsibility of the church is not to provide escape from reality,” according to Donald Ellsworth, the author of Christian Music in Contemporary Witness, “but to give answers to contemporary problems through legitimate, biblical means.”
While this is not about music I believe it still is relevant in other areas of our Christian struggle. Seems that ever since Adam and Eve were put out of the garden God’s people have been living among the bad, waiting for the good; from Christ on the cross and his resurrection and ascension to this very day Christians have been waiting for the good while living amongst the bad. I was reminded in Sunday school class how God’s faithful love for all people and faithful love for Israel are woven together, not just in Jesus but throughout the Bible. I liked the way one of the ladies put it – “like a golden thread which runs from Genesis to Revelations.” Our bible lesson this week was from Isaiah 59: 15-21. Like any other Methodist that has been around awhile I always drop back a few verses and then of course read a few past the scripture study as listed.
From my seat in the pew I see society and the church redefining the law and reinterpreting God’s will and intent to fit their immoral behaviors and desires. Consider this from the book of Isaiah:
12 For our sins are piled up before God
and testify against us.
Yes, we know what sinners we are.
13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
Isaiah 59 is a record of a terrible time in the lives of God’s people because they had sinned with such abandon that God had turned away from them. In the verses going forward 16-21 we find that there is no one that can or will speak the truth and only God in his rightful vengeance can heal the wounds of the sinful action of his people, a nation blinded by sin unable to see the light. Jesus once said: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” As of this moment the Methodist Church is considering the modifications to existing church law, which is in my mind a reformation of the meaning of scripture as written, to render unto Caesar that which is not his to decide. God decided long ago those things which displeased him and led to his people living an un-holy life.
I am a simple man who only knows what the church has told me for over fifty years and the hundreds of bible studies and commentaries written by Godly men and the seeking of leadership from the Holy Spirit through prayer and study that has shaped my faith and given me hope and strength in times of uncertainty. The questions of marriage and same-gender relationships are being settled in the Caesar’s world, as it should be. Me, I render unto God that which is his. That being the judgement that marriage is between a man and a woman and those things that God found to be un-holy are still so even in this day. Yes, living among the bad waiting for the good is something we have been doing since Adam and Eve walked out of the garden. Hope it won’t be so long this time till we meet here in the pew.