My wife and I have our advanced open water certification for Scuba diving. We are only able to go every 3 or 4 years but when we go we plan on going somewhere the visibility is 50’ minimum. The reason for this is because we got our initial open water training in Oklahoma lakes where 5’ – 10’ visibility is considered good and where some of our training dives had even less than that. So I’m sure you can appreciate why we prefer clear ocean water. When you go over the side of the boat and stick your head under the water and can see a good chunk of a 500’ ship 70’ below you which was sunk as an artificial reef, that is something to behold.
So we don’t like diving in muddy or murky water; you simply can’t see what’s really going on. I think this illistrates how many Christians view certain trending or popular causes today as if through self induced murky water. Nobody wants to offend, we all want to be seen as compassionate or understanding and the authority of scripture becomes the casualty as it is just gets glazed over and ignored in the process.
An example of how we have witnessed this scenario played out in real life has even been with some of the people who have had significant influence in our Christian lives. While teaching or exhorting devotion to God and adherence to scripture, they at the same time seem to be offering an overabundance of, what would appear to be, compassion to friends or family who are walking in significant moral sin (read homosexuality or fornication). These are not situations where someone slipped up and “fell” into sin, but rather blatant moral violations of scripture for which they remain unrepentant.
In one situation like this we asked about the open acceptance of “brothers in the Lord” who are violating God’s law. The reason given was a reasonable one along the line of “we are supposed to visit those in prison”. I can fully appreciate that answer. But later when Christian ministry by the sinning brother was encouraged or even facilitated, that goes well beyond the visiting in prison motive and is a lot more than I feel comfortable with. I feel the same about so many who freely accept as normal those family members who profess Christ but are living together or are involved in some other sexual sin. Some go so far as to refer to the most recent live in partner as the husband or wife. There is no other way to describe this other than validating and putting a stamp of approval on the sin. This muddies the water of scripture which causes even more things to become unclear.
These types of circumstances are extremely challenging. Over the years, Barbie and I have had to make the very heartbreaking decisions to break off fellowship with some who, while professing Christ, were at the same time engaging in clear and specific violations of scripture (1 Cor. 5:11). We seem to be in the great minority in embracing this weighty yet effective biblical practice of shunning. Many a tear has been shed as we made appeals to some for repentance and change. But frankly, without it being a church wide effort, our little boycott had little impact, but we could not allow that to change our conviction to not violate scripture.
Don’t get me wrong, this is heartbreaking stuff, and if you think it was easy to call the police on one of our own kids and kick him out of the house because of drugs, you are so very mistaken and all this was during a time when he was still attending church and posing as a Christian. Thank God for answered prayers for our sons’ return, but he had to hit a pretty low bottom before he looked up. But then that is a vital part of the conviction of sin process. Those walking in sin actually suffer the consequences of rejecting God’s law which brings with it sadness, aloneness, depression and a sense of loss and desperation. And it is in that state of mind where God’s heart of love and grace is waiting to rescue.
I want to be as clear as I possibly can be; to look the other way with tacit approval of unrepentant sin is to encourage it and to short circuit the cost and conviction of sin process leading to salvation. Those who continue unrepentantly in sin are in danger of the most severe judgments from God. So how can one defend a position of “compassion” while perhaps enabling the unrepentant sinner to go blithely on down the road to destruction? Add to that the fact scripture requires you to warn them or you become guilty of the same judgment and your misplaced compassion may well be ushering more than just one into hell. (Ezekiel 3 & 33)
This brings me to the bottom line of this blog. I must give warning to those who would muddy the water of the doctrine of sin to the point where you cannot even tell right from wrong. I’ll return to my scuba diving experience to bring an illustration. Those coral formations and fish seen at the Japanese Zero or the sunken ship are actually very bland and grey to look at. Why, because at that depth, most of the light spectrum is filtered out and you have to add artificial light from a flashlight or camera flash to bring out the colors. And even though those formations are beautiful once artificial light is brought, one must never forget that the Japanese plane on which they formed went down in flames as a result of enemy fire from us (US) and the 510’ Spiegel Grove went down at the hands of friends who intentionally sunk her by cutting holes throughout her hull. Especially the Spiegel Grove offers wonderful and majestic views which is the very thing that makes it all the more difficult to keep in mind it’s a scuttled ship dead and buried in the ocean. And neither that plane nor that ship will ever again be or do what they were intended except by some great miracle.
Sunken ships & planes are one thing, people on the other hand are of far greater interest to our miraculous God who stands at the ready to pierce the fog, murky water or whatever might stand in the way of redemption. If we truly love that errant brother or sister, we must choose to partner with God instead of being a barrier to His work of grace.
So many Christians have joined the trending mantra of “being on the right side of history” when it comes to acceptance, equality or the latest pop culture hobby. It’s as if there are 2 roads, one wide and the other narrow. Christians, in droves, can be seen cutting across the median from that narrow road to the wide road, shouting ahead to the un-churched masses “wait for us, we’ll catch up”. Short sighted and blinded by the muddy water, they are doing this to feel accepted on that right side of history road. And whereas that road will be very broad and well populated, it will nonetheless come to an abrupt and horrible end. By the way, that other rougher, unpaved and narrow road is labeled eternity. (Matt. 7:13, 14)