During those college days our supposedly Christian college hosted what they called the "Human Family Reunion" (I think they still have it today). It had stared years earlier, and I believe had a “pure” intent. The idea was to set aside difference, especially racial ones, and worship together as the “human family.” I can appreciate that.
However, the one “worship” service I attended for this event was led by a unique collection of individuals: A Jewish Rabbi, an Islamic Imam, a Catholic priest, a female Methodist pastor, and a liberal Baptist pastor. There may have been others, but these were the ones I remember. Again, I’m all for racial harmony, tolerance, and all that.
But here’s the problem. The service led by these different religious representatives was said to be a “joint worship service” where we put aside our “differences” and worship God together. What’s wrong with that? Most of those folks don’t worship the God of Scripture, plain and simple. It’s what makes that silly “coexist” bumper sticker based on this same idea so ridiculous. There are major issues between Christian, Jewish and Muslim theology.
I remember raising the issue in my sociology class, where the prof was the founder of this get together, and was told that we needed to set aside “little differences” and work together in love. My response, which wasn’t taken well, was simply: If I love my brother, shouldn’t I tell him he’s worshiping a false god and bound for hell? Can love let a brother die without Christ, the only way of salvation?
I thought about this again recently as our Sunday School class is studying 2 Corinthians using Sam Storm’s “A Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ.” In talking about Paul’s “tough love” to the Corinthian church, Storms says the loving thing to do is to tell the truth in seeking the eternal good of others, not looking the other way as the world tells us. He writes:
For example, we re told repeatedly today, both inside and outside the church, that if we love homosexuals, we will accept their orientation and behavior and refrain from words of judgment or any suggestion that their lifestyle might be immoral. If we truly love the sincere Buddhist, we will not speak ill of his faith or insist on the exclusivity of Christ, but bless him in his chosen path and embrace him as a child of God. If we truly love our professing Christian brother who has abandoned all local church life because of his disgust with its purported hypocrisy, or for some related reason, we will affirm his decision and wish him well during his time on the golf course or at Starbucks on Sunday morning.
To ignore sin in the name of live is not only unbiblical, it also betrays the very nature of live itself, which by definition always seeks the ultimate spiritual welfare of its object, even at the expense of immediate personal peace.
It’s also an act of cowardice. Confrontation is hard, and we typically prefer finding a way to avoid it. Appealing to our “love” for the person as an excuse for not speaking biblical truth concerning their unrepentant sin is the worst and least loving thing one can do and displays a greater devotion to self than to the sinner. It means, in effect, that we prefer our own emotional peace and sense of well-being above his conformity to Christ and perhaps even his eternal destiny. That hardly qualifies as “love” in any language.
Man, I wish Pastor Storms could have been with me in class that day. As it was, I stood alone. No one else seemed to think there was anything wrong with Christ-deniers “worshiping” alongside the saints of God, all arm in arm and love- dovey.
Plain and simple truth. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to Scripture alone for the glory of God alone. I think I’ve read that somewhere before. It’s foundational, folks. And if we love folks, we will tell them the truth. We will point out their need for Christ. We will call our brothers to greater holiness. We will put their eternal good before our worldly comfort.
So, please, don’t be a coward. Love one another enough to speak the truth.
NOTE: When I wrote and posted this item this morning, I had not yet read about Rick Warren's latest shenanigans. I guess this is even more timely than I thought. If you haven't heard, Warren is suggesting we all celebrate the "similarities of our faith." Wow, I thought I was thinking about this out of left field, but here it is folks.