See Luminosity

Attempts at Doing the Whole of the Gospel by a Partially-Gospel-Oriented Girl

Attempts at Doing the Whole of the Gospel by a Partially-Gospel-Oriented Girl

Sometimes the narrow way is just very, very difficult to discern.

Even when you hear God’s voice and understand what He wants you to do, it’s usually a bit thorny to figure out precisely how to actually implement His will. Ya know, what with our sin and all.

Let’s just take me, for example. Since I’m the author of this here blog post.

The Lord has made it clear to me that He wants me to write for Him. And not just write anything, but to specifically seek to address the intersecting of His truth with life lived out in our culture. Although I am terrible at just about everything that involves the fruit of the Spirit, He has given me not only a passion for understanding and illuminating Truth, but a responsibility and (at least some of the time) an ability to articulate that Truth so that scripture’s refrain can become clear in the midst of a culture that shouts incessantly in the opposite of God’s voice.

Of course, God’s Truth has two parts: Love and Righteousness.

 

  • “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.” Hosea 2:19
  • “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
  • “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.” Psalm 89:14

The whole of the gospel is about God reconciling sinful humanity to Himself because of His great love for them. Man’s sinfulness keeping him apart from a holy God, rectified by the Lord sending Himself to conquer their sinfulness with His perfection, out of unfathomable, all-encompassing love. That’s the whole gospel, the two sides of the Trinitarian coin – love and righteousness.

The problem is that I am much more attuned to (and more effective at bringing attention to) the righteousness part of it than the love part. (Not that anyone has noticed, or anything).

Culturally and Righteousness-Focused

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that our culture perpetually invokes the “love” side of the gospel (even while not really having much idea what it means), while virtually ignoring its message of holiness. Christ’s call to not judge (Matthew 7:1) is used as an excuse to ignore His call to discern right from wrong (John 7:24, Matthew 10:16, 16:1-3,18:8-10). “Compassion” and “acceptance” are bellowed from the mountaintops, while righteousness and purity are eerily silent. I hear so many voices calling for love and acceptance, freedom and peace, but then see those same voices using those foundational qualities of the gospel as hammers to pound into collective consciousness values that are completely anathema to Christ’s message. I see the revelation of the Creator being reduced to bumper stickers of “Coexist”, and the grace of God to reconcile sinful mankind to Himself being trampled under banners of “Tolerance”. The cries of “Do not judge” crowd out the cries for discernment, the shouts of “freedom” drown out the cries for responsibility and the sights of self-indulgence overcome the vision of wisdom.

A second reason I am much more attuned to the righteousness aspect of God’s truth than the love aspect has to do with the personality God gave me. He made me a fighter rather than a lover, and more culture-and-policy oriented than individually oriented. I’m the one who does a better job of writing letters to government officials to get religious conscience prisoners out of jail, than delivering compassion packets to those prisoners. I’m better at mobilizing grassroots financial support for micro-business training in third-world countries than sewing blankets for the orphans there. I am more effective at articulating to the masses the biblical case for why traditional marriage is God’s only plan for sexuality than I am at ministering to gay individuals. My internal law-and-policy, societal level focus is a culprit as well. It is true that the role Christians should take on a cultural level is different from what their approach should be on a personal level – while we have a responsibility to advocate for, participate in implementing, and fight against the destruction of biblical principles in policy and cultural life, on a personal level we are to simply love non-believers with the love of Christ, and let the Holy Spirit be in charge of convicting of righteousness. Nonetheless, I recognize that my policy-focused, cultural-purity-advocacy methods can take center stage…to the detriment of my personal witness.

But none of this is an excuse for calling for, seeking to implement, and exemplifying the whole gospel – and, particularly, the love side. I cannot only focus on the righteousness part of things. Nor can I only emphasize the collective, cultural approach in implementing God’s truth. God’s truth is both love and righteousness, societal and personal. One of my biggest fears is that in my endeavors to use my passions and gifts to fulfill the call the Lord has given me, people may completely miss the whole of God’s truth in my words and intentions. That they may see only my stances and not my heart.

Or, worse, that my heart might shift into the wrong place.

The Whole Heart of God

Yes, I speak out against gay marriage. And I believe I have been called to do so, to help illuminate God’s truth about sexuality, gender, companionship, and the purpose of family. But I do not want that to overshadow my desire and efforts to love gay persons and help them to experience the cleansing grace of the Lord who has forgiven me for so much. Because that is just as much the heart of God.

Yes, I have a passion for the unborn and in helping the world face the travesty of abortion. And I believe I have been called to do so, to help illuminate God’s truth about the preciousness and worth of every person created in God’s image. But I do not want that passion to supersede my support of and care for women who are struggling with what to do with an unwanted pregnancy, and to help them find their worth in the ultimate Father who loves them as much as He loves their children. Because that is just as much the heart of God.

Yes, I am concerned about religious liberty, and fiscal irresponsibility and the freedom of parents to raise their children according to their own beliefs and conscience. And I believe I have been called to do so, to help illuminate God’s truth about living out our faith in daily life, being good stewards, and inculcating a love of the Lord in our children. But I also want my heart to be broken for the impoverished and the hungry and the drug addicted and the marginalized. Because that is just as much the heart of God.

I have passions that align in certain directions, biases, and a whole bunch of sin. God has a heart for – is passionate about – all of it. And, yeah, He actually is righteousness.

It is a constant battle for me – a battle to bring my soul into alignment with that of the Father. He is constantly tweaking me; simultaneously spurring me to address the lack of righteousness in our culture, while convicting me of my own. Compelling me to write about injustice and perversions of His truth, while reminding me of the ways I neglect to love those who perpetuate both.

And the closer I walk with my Lord, the more He reveals to me my own deep, disturbing sinfulness. The ways that, when compared to Him, I fall utterly, completely, infinitely short of the mark.

The Challenge and the Grace

So therein lies the challenge: How to fulfill a call the Lord has given me to illuminate the truth of scripture in contrast to our culture’s values, while also exemplifying that truth in the way I love – especially one-on-one. How to help people discern truth versus falsehood in society, while also being a part of that society and personally contributing to the sin within it. How to temper my passion for the holiness part of the gospel with an awareness of my own lack of holiness. How to balance bringing attention to Christ’s call for righteousness with personal demonstrations of His love, compassion, and grace.

I know I often get it wrong. And I’m sure I get it wrong much, much more often than I know. I just pray that somehow the Lord will work through my own sinfulness to accomplish His purpose. And that, along the way, He will transform my heart to be more and more like His.

So I will post something about the secularization of society, and will likely wax passionately and loudly about its effects on our moral decline. But it is highly likely that afterwards the Lord will convict me to make muffins for my left-leaning, co-habitating neighbors, and to let them borrow my lawnmower even if they don’t fill up the gas. Because Truth is not just about the knowledge, but about the living it out. Because God’s purpose is not just about policy, but about people. Because my passion to point out injustice and impurity in the world must never be stronger than my care for the individuals God loves, or an awareness of my own sin.

And because He, amazingly, continues to give me the opportunity to participate in both His love and righteousness, even though I have neither.

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