March 30, 2018
Paul is not letting up or giving in. That’s one way to interpret the urgency of his increasingly stern admonitions. Knowing Paul, though, there’s a better way to understand him. Paul is not letting go. He refuses to let go of the truth of God, and he will not let go of people, especially broken people. He knows first hand the danger of self righteous religion. He comes at this not from a high perch of judgment but as the self identified “chief of sinners.”
What does love look like in an age of sexual brokenness?
It depends on who you ask. To the broken, love often looks like acceptance and accomodation. I mean, who are we to judge; right? To those who don’t identify themselves as broken, love looks like truth enforcement.
Holy love means simultaneously holding on to God and to people. What we see so often is a public clinging to one paired with a private letting go of the other. There is a way of holding on to God while letting go of people. It appears to be uncompromising and lives to carry the banner of biblical fidelity. Those who disagree are deemed “not my people.” There is also a way of holding on to people while letting go of God. It appears to be compassionate love and lives to carry the banner of prophetic justice and mercy. Those who oppose in the name of God are met with, “not my God.” Both approaches counterfeit love with a dangerous alternative.
If we asked Jesus what love looks like in age of sexual brokenness I think he would say holy love looks like uncompromising compassion. It looks like wholehearted abandon to God and tenacious clinging to people with a supernaturally stubborn refusal to let go of either.
So how do we do this when what the Bible seems to classify as immoral, bad and wrong are affirmed by the surrounding culture as moral, good and right.
The surrounding culture, under the zeitgeist leadership of the spirit of the age, will always try to reason with the church. I think this or something akin to it is behind Paul’s opening salvo in todays’ text:
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words,
It happens under the seductive auspices of dialogue. We just need to listen better to one another. Who would ever say dialogue and the quest for common ground is a bad thing? It’s not, until it is. Where the quest for common ground leads to compromising the truth what results is a partnership with darkness. It’s how I understand Paul’s warning:
Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
It is never compassionate to compromise the truth. In fairness, though, our commitment is not to the truth of the truth (as though the truth needs us to establish its authority) but for the sake of the power of the truth. The truth asks only for our faith that it may demonstrate and defend its own authority.
Think of it this way. If we know we have the cure to cancer we will not spend our time defending the authority of the cure. No! We will spend ourselves demonstrating the efficacy of the cure, which in the end will become the only convincing source of its authority. Translation: sin is terminal cancer and the truth of the Gospel is the cure. If we spent half as much time demonstrating the generative, creative and healing power of Scripture as we have spent defending its authority, we would be living in a different church and having a different conversation with the surrounding culture.
To be clear, Scripture is authoritative. It’s just God doesn’t need our defense. God needs us on offense.
11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.
We need to get sin and righteousness out of the shame-based, performative categories of immoral and moral; bad and good; even wrong and right. While these are legitimate categories and even true, they are unhelpful, especially in the shame-laden context of sexual brokenness. Sin and righteousness must be translated into the categories of broken and whole, sick and healthy, slavery and freedom, darkness and light, and the mother of all categories: death and life.
When we mistake brokenness for wholeness, sickness for health, desecrated for sacredness, darkness for light and death for life
For Paul, sexual sin looks like deaf and blind children playing on the railroad tracks. Far worse than moral failure, sin is the contagion of darkness and death.
If we understand something to be sin and we permit ourselves to be persuaded it is not sin
To call sexual brokenness sexual wholeness is an act of defiance against God and an act of treasonous deception against the human race. Both can be forgiven, but it will take generations to recover from the devastation that is now being unleashed.
Only an awakening will do.
Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who We pray in Jesus name, amen.
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J.D. Walt, Sower-in-Chief for Seedbed, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. email@example.com.