Friday, May 31, 2013


In the present day, Christians may very well be spending too much time listening to what the world system says about moral standards. I'm aware that it's hard NOT TO when the media, including the all powerful, ever present, social media, reflects an agenda that is secularistic and seems to constantly pound away with their message of moral relevance.

If we're not careful, we'll find ourselves suffering from a "paralysis of analysis" on moral issues that is based on our culture and we'll lose sight OUR OWN standard for the Christian life in the chaos of it all. [Remember we're not speaking of legal standards or laws here, but moral standards.

Let me give an example of what I'm talking about. Secularism tells us it is wrong to "judge" another person's moral actions. [And they may be correct to a point as we shall see in a momentOf course what they're saying is an oxymoron if you think about it.]  We're told by our culture, which is obviously a pluralistic society, that judging what someone else does as morally right or wrong, IS wrong. Period!

The "politically correctness police"will tell us that everyone is entitled to an opinion about what is right and wrong morally for themselves and that is because there is neither an absolute standard nor an over riding authority, for anyone. There is nothing except the individual's right to do as he or she pleases. If someone says an action is morally right or wrong, they are trampling on the rights of others to do as they please and are guilty of judging. They will even use the bible against us by pointing out that even Jesus said, "Judge not." [ Matthew 7:15]

The problem with this, apart from the fact that Jesus  [It was really Paul the Apostle under inspiration] ALSO said, "The one who is spiritual [Christian] judges ALL THINGS." [1 Corinthians 2:15]  is the fact that Christians DO have an over riding authority based on citizenship in ANOTHER Kingdom, under another King. [King Jesus] He, then, has the right to, and, in fact, does have His own standard for Kingdom living and our loyalty is to that King and His standard.

But, to settle the issue of judging once and for all, we need to remember that in the Kingdom of Heaven, ONLY GOD does the judging or condemning and His judgments are conclusive and final. Ours is NOT TO JUDGE, but to announce forgiveness and grace in our message of the Cross and to live that forgiveness and grace having already received it as our way of life. 

So, as Christians, we're not going to judge [condemn] anyone anyway. [Read that as setting our culture right in their standards.] That's beyond our pay-grade at the moment. And it is not our gospel message at all. That would reduce our message to a moralistic message rather than a redemptive one which is what happens with a cultural correcting emphasis in our thinking and our speaking. The only one we do "judge" [Discern the value of] is ourselves individually, and that's in relation to living out our King's standard in all of life. 1 Corinthians 2:15]

But this has nothing to do with, and I repeat, nothing to do with, IMPOSING OUR JUDGMENT of right or wrong on anyone else. The word "judge" is the Greek word "krino" and means, among other things, to choose or to determine FOR OURSELVES and NO ONE ELSE. Please don't let anyone lead you astray here either because that is what Kingdom living is all about. [Establishing laws for a nation is a different issue entirely and has to do with our American citizenship.]

The problem our secular society faces with us as Christians is NOT that we going to condemn THEM [we shouldn't either] for their LACK of a moral standard of right and wrong, but that we choose FOR OURSELVES a moral standard of right and wrong that our King has placed in our hearts, by which we live, which is certainly contrary to the opinion of secular society, and that automatically eats at them. [Which is totally understandable by the way.]

So when secularism tells Christians that they must NOT choose for themselves a right standard [about sexuality for example] that God has placed in their hearts as a way of life, because, in choosing for themselves what is right, [sexuality is our example] they are, in fact, "judging" others who choose differently, our culture/world is simply attempting to push Christians into a life of relativism which is the antithesis of Kingdom living. [This, since most Christians hold biblically that ALL sexual practices outside marriage between a man and a woman is missing the mark and sex inside of marriage is by mutual agreement and mutual respect only.]

So, as Christians, our responsibility is to resist a secular world that hates God and lives in moral relativism and to choose what is right for ourselves and EXPECT DISSENSION. But that is a tough thing to do for Christians who are announcing peace to people. We love peace. We love people. We've been told by our King, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." We don't like dissension. It's not pleasant. It's even against our new nature.

But, we don't hear Jesus advocating that we "get along with everyone" either. Jesus certainly didn't mind upsetting people. He engaged in conflict with the Pharisees when necessary who were the "Political Correctness Police," at least of the religious culture of their day. So there is to be no loss of nerve where Christians are concerned.

What IS required is faith AND courage. That courage is NOT to set a lost culture straight [think Westboro here] as much as it is to interpret the times in which we live, and choose FOR OURSELVES what is right in Kingdom living as we share our message of the Cross and God will take care of the world IN THAT DAY He has appointed and placed in His Son's hands for judgment, if that message is rejected.

Now if someone is reading this and thinks, "Why that's too easy." I would suggest you try it and then we'll talk about what's easy.

Paul B.   


Aussie John said...


Well my friend, you won't hear me say, "Why that's too easy."

With the current, seeming flavor of the day being an incredibly narrow, and ,I think self centered, view of "peace", your comment, "...we don't hear Jesus advocating that we "get along with everyone" either." is quite timely.

For me, your earlier comments are so important because the Gospel is often shrouded with a codicil to the last will and testament given us in Christ.

As a consequence we have congregations of people who are split into two groups: Firstly, the noisy ones who are often recognizable by their angry, frowning demeanor, are about "setting our culture right in their standards." seeking to legislate their Christianity of earthly moral/ethical standards, and,

Secondly, on the other hand, there are those who have caught the true sense of the spiritual Kingdom they have entered,and the peace and humility with which it is imbued, but who are pressured into passive silence by the first described.

This is of the utmost importance:
"What IS required is faith AND courage. That courage is NOT to set a lost culture straight [think Westboro here] as much as it is to interpret the times in which we live, and choose FOR OURSELVES what is right in Kingdom living as we share our message of the Cross and God will take care of the world IN THAT DAY He has appointed and placed in His Son's hands for judgment, if that message is rejected."

Sorry for being so verbose.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

Apology unaccepted because the apology is un-needed.

I really have a conviction that many, if not most, Christians mistakenly think of being light and salt to our culture by pointing out to the culture, verbally or in print, what is right or wrong morally and the need to have good character, instead of sorry character, as defined by God. What a tragedy.

Being light and salt is confronting our culture with a lifestyle that reveals ALL THAT in our living WHILE we are presenting a message of the fallenness of humankind and God's provision for that fall in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and His Cross/empty tomb work. It is the gospel message and that alone that has the power to bring about a new kind of life. That's why Paul was NEVER ashamed of the gospel. I wish we weren't either.

But we seem to have mutated the gospel to being a moralism/moralistic message with God blessings falling on those who return our American culture to being one of a lawful kind of living based on Judea/Christian principles. [10 commandments]

That's a worse tragedy IMO.

Aussie John said...

We're certainly on the same page here.

Those you mention,who "have mutated the gospel to being a moralism/moralistic message", are those I refer to as "noisy ones" in my first point, who loudly proclaiming the correctness of their interpretation of a "Christianity of earthly moral/ethical standards, who want to".

My own experience of pastoral ministry has been saddened by their attempts to sanitize the congregations to which they have attached themselves,which often has the serious consequences of shutting off the ministry of other,less vociferous, but more loving,caring,concerned members, who have understood what God great gift of gracious salvation truly is.

My last opportunity of service saw several dear folk come to a saving relationship with Christ. One husband and wife saw themselves as the Spiritual Sheriffs of the congregation, time after time, for weeks on end, challenging any of these new folk who did something of which the S.S's. disapproved,"Are you certain you are born again. Weren't you told that Christians don't ........... (long list)?".

As you so eloquently stated,"What a tragedy."

Thanks again for writing that which is so very pertinent to the day in which we live!

Rex Ray said...

Thanks for your good post.
1 Corinthians 2:15 NLT) “Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things.”

I think ‘evaluation’ is more what we ought to do than a ‘judgment’ that has the hint of condemnation since only God has the knowledge and authority for the final word.

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NLT)

I think we evaluate those without Jesus will go to hell without the big sign that declares “GOD HATES YOU…”

Also, “You can identify them by their fruits…” (Matthew 7:16 NLT)

Rex Ray said...

Why did Jesus weep?

It can be seen that both sisters were disappointed and angry with Jesus by their ‘scolding’ him: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” They had sent word in plenty of time for him to heal their brother, but Jesus didn’t come.

I believe my grandmother felt as the sisters when she sent word to a doctor in plenty of time to prevent her husband from dying from blood poison. But the doctor didn’t come because he was drunk. Her eight children were 15 years old to 6 months. She was a widow for 38 years.

I believe Jesus was disgusted at Mary and Martha’s lack of belief and faith in him because: “…He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved.” (John 11:33 Holman)

When the people also joined in the sister’s thoughts, “Then Jesus angry in Himself again…” (John 11:38 Holman)

I believe his angry was very different from when he used a whip.

The angry was in utter dismay and close to self pity in their lack of faith as shown by: “Didn’t I tell you that IF YOU BELIEVED you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)

I believe Jesus scolded them all by showing them the glory of God without them believing.

Paul, I liked your poem, but I’ll see if you can see how I changed it in two places to fit the above doctrine. :)

So many Christians are angry using words that hurt.
These are not un-graced people but graced ones who revert.
Becoming what they once were before He sought them out.
At least that's what it seems by people standing about.

I've wondered what could be missing in so many today.
In Christians who with angry words keep others at bay.
It isn't a knowledge of the text of holy scripture at all.
Chapter and verse are well remembered with precise recall.

But something is missing and as I've pondered what it is,
I'm thinking it may be the tears that were in eyes like His.
When He saw Jerusalem and her failure in receiving Truth.
Like a mother hen rejected He had tears with His reproof.

Or as He was the day He came to the tomb of a friend. Disbelieving that He was God’s Salvation for the end.
He bowed his head and with tears flowing he prayed.
He did not leave in anger but rather He stayed giving aid.

Their understanding in the moment was His concern. The Father seen in Him was that for which He did yearn.
So perhaps Christ-likeness has more to do with tears than we think. If that's true then oh how foolish we are from tears to shrink.

Father break our pride and our hearts so we can love each other. And may tears be a part of what makes us one with another.

Paul Burleson said...


I've always attempted to refrain from speculating "why" about someone's actions. When I do address a "why" I like to preface it by admitting that it is "speculation" on my part. the spirit of speculation, I say......

THE GROANS OF JESUS are interesting, but remember this is the ONLY time this word is used this way. Other similar words for "groan" can be categorized in this fashion.

1. Over mortal man.

He felt emotions as strong as an electrical shock because He was in a world of pain and infirmities. [Speculation]

2. Over sorrowing man.

Jesus sympathized with sorrow as sorrow. He was moved by the mere contagiousness of the grief experienced by those He loved.

3. Over unbelieving man.

The sisters and the Jews alike lacked faith, and lack of faith always troubled Him and while it could include anger, but there seems to be more than one feeling here as it's different than the words of verse 33. This word could include...

(1) an oppressive sense of loneliness.

(2) A deep conviction and sorrow because of the guilt of unbelief.

(3) A distressing feeling of the miseries unbelief can produce.

So, I guess one could "pick his poison" as to which one this one time word would refer here.

So with so much that we have to speculate about, I wouldn't personally build a "doctrine" around any one of the possibilities. But it's fun to speculate.


Rex Ray said...

Not doctrine but more speculation. :)

Rodney and I agreed on how Jesus felt, but were both wrong on another point about the smell:
“…but Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” (John 11:39 NLT)

I said maybe Jesus brought Lazarus through the stone, and Rodney guessed there was no smell because the body was so deep in the cave it didn’t need a stone.

It’s obvious both had forgotten the first part of that verse: “Roll the stone aside, Jesus told them.”

For speculation: Was there a smell that came out with Lazarus which would further prove he was dead and not sleeping?

I don’t believe Jesus experienced (2) “A deep conviction and sorrow because of the guilt of unbelief.”

Those who rejoiced to see Lazarus alive may have, but not Jesus or his enemies. And the same reasoning/speculation for (3).