1/27/2014 6:00:00 PM
There are many positive aspects to social media and other forms of electronic communication. But they also have at least one
clear downside: the relative anonymity that comes along with an online presence has allowed us to be startlingly and, at times,
disgustingly uncivil with others.
To see what I mean you don’t have to go any farther than a topical discussion board or the comments page for any online news or
opinion piece on the Web. There you’ll see what are probably pretty ordinary folks acting condescending, boorish and many other
kinds of awful toward their fellow man.
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Lately I’ve seen these people feverishly objecting to any suggestion that all life is worth defending, that marriage should remain
the union of one man and one woman that it obviously is, and that the First Amendment provides absolute protection from government
intrusion into the way one practices his or her faith. And they rely on the tired idea that “Jesus never talked about
_______________________(fill in the blank).”
What they hope to achieve by this, of course, is to shut you up. Those of us who proclaim that abortion is wrong, that marriage
is correctly defined only as the union of one man and one woman and that religious liberties are virtually absolute are just out
of luck, you see, because Jesus never talked about abortion or homosexuality or contraception.
You can almost see these folks folding their arms across their chest and looking smug, as though they had played a trump card that
has won them the argument. But they haven’t because Jesus did address these situations, by affirming God’s law as expressed in the
Old Testament. So the “Jesus never said anything about that” argument only works on people who are wholly unfamiliar with
Scripture. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to see the fatal flaw in their argument.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For
truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the
kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless
your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
- Matthew 5:17-20, ESV
Where these wannabe intellectuals fall short is in the assumption that Jesus needed to re-state the law in its entirety during His
public ministry. But He didn’t. He’s God, remember? He laid down the law in the first place.
What Jesus did, in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in Scripture, was assert the law’s utility and put people like the
Pharisees on notice that He wouldn’t tolerate them continue to pervert the law for their own benefit.
If He were delivering this message today, Jesus might have said, “I don’t need to say anything about abortion, because I’ve already
said that you must not take an innocent life. I don’t need to say anything about same-sex marriage, because the law already said
that homosexual behavior is sinful. I don’t need to say anything about religious liberties, because I’ve already set rules for how
I am to be worshipped. How about you just follow the law, and stop figuring out ways to break it?”
Of course, we can’t follow the law perfectly in our own strength. That’s why Jesus came in the first place – to be a living
sacrifice for our sins, so we would rely on Christ for our salvation rather than our own supposed goodness. As Paul would write some
30 years after Jesus announced that He came to fulfill the law:
For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in
death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- Romans 5:19-21, ESV
Christians generally understand this truth when engaging with the culture on moral issues, which we often approach theoretically
and abstractly. But we can also it when it hits us where we live, as we do all too often where He teaches about giving to the
Kingdom of God. The tithe and other financial teachings are clearly taught throughout Scripture, but there are all too many
Christians who believe that the tithe doesn’t apply to them “because we’re under grace.”
Well, guess what? The words of Christ which apply to the world on the crucial moral issues of our day also apply to the Church in
our everyday lives. Get this in your spirit: being under grace cannot be an excuse for failing to follow the law, because being
under grace is a stricter standard of behavior than being under the law! All
behavior, including that which governs how we
use the fruits of our labor.
Billy Graham is quoted as saying your checkbook is a theological document. It shows where your priorities are, as well as where
they aren’t. I believe that God blesses those that make Him their first priority. I wonder, what would God think of your priorities
if he saw what you had been doing with your time, in your thought life and with your money?
Now, remember that He has
seen it – that He always sees it – and adjust your life as needed.