An article in a 2016 issue of Time Magazine is entitled, “My Brother’s Pregnancy, the Remaking of the American Family.” A growing number of teens describe themselves as gender non-conforming. This means that they do not believe that their biological sex necessarily determines their gender. Did you know that there are over 100 gender descriptions registered on social media? Where does it end? Is gender determined or decided? What is the Biblical response?
If you like the music of The Beatles I think you will find the film entertaining. Personally, I think there could have been so much more done with the plot, but I enjoyed it.
But what if the world didn’t just forget about a music group? What if the world forgot about God? Imagine what the world would be like if there was no belief or no concept of God in the mind of man.
The question of God is the first question of any worldview. The answer to that question makes every other decision. In this message I share four critical implications to denying there is a God. If you don’t believe in God you must:
- Have ultimate faith that science can answer all of your questions.
- Have ultimate faith that people will eventually make all the right decisions.
- Have ultimate faith that government will solve all of our problems.
- Have ultimate faith in yourself that you will find the purpose for your life.
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The story of the protests in Ferguson, MO is complex. Why did the police officer gun down an unarmed teenager? How will justice in the case be served? How much of what is going on there is magnified by the angles of media coverage? I’m sure Ferguson is a populated place. What else is going on in the town? There are people protesting and causing chaos in the area that are not even from Ferguson. For that matter, many of them are not even from Missouri. Who is sending them? Why are they coming? What is their agenda? Are they being helpful or hurtful? Who is taking advantage of the situation and who is actually working to rectify it? Furthermore, what else has happened in the area to make the situation so volatile? These questions need our attention, but it seems no one is interested in knowing the answers.
As a discerning Christian we should be sensitive to the specifics of the complexities of the people and issues involved. We should not be merely image driven, but rather driven toward truth. At the same time, a text from Scripture is very apparent in this that we cannot ignore.
In John 10:10 Jesus described the evil one as someone who comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy.” No one can deny, those three words are inseparable from this situation.
The situation in Ferguson is a very physical reality. It is emotionally volatile. But what we see and hear should not serve as a camouflage for another reality that is readily apparent. Satan is having a field day in Ferguson.
From a social perspective this is a situation that will only aggravate racial tensions. The media capitalizes on this. But there is more here than skin color. This situation is an assault on life and peace. It is the noise of demonic chaos designed to drown out the message of the gospel. What we hear on the television is that we need the National Guard, we need Presidential policy, we need the ACLU and the NAACP. We need judicial justice.
No sir, we need Christ in Ferguson.
In the midst of his own very tense, judgmental situation, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul pens these words:
For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:13-21 ESV)
How does the gospel instruct us as we watch what is happening in Ferguson?
- There is a spiritual reality of demonic activity, in a fallen world that we cannot ignore. Humans are not well. We need miraculous intervention in our lives, not from policy, not from politicians, not from military might. We need the Lord. We do not need a change in a situation, we need a change in our nature. We must be born again (John 3).
- The work of reconciliation should not be relegated to response in crisis. The work of reconciliation is something we are called to everyday. There should be more to the work of law enforcement to patrol a community, it should also be their work to know the community. The tensions of relationships are being exploited by the media and driving nightly ratings through the roof. The real work of reconciliation is not done with posters, T-shirts, or in protest. There is more to knowing a person than viewing his picture. The work of relationships is done at dinner tables, in homes, in church communities, and in conversations. Knowing what is in the heart of man is not a newsflash.
- The gospel calls us to an ideal higher than ourselves. The talking heads are running to the podium to bring peace to the situation. The problem is that this situation will not be solved in pleasing a person or appealing to an ideal, the question in all of this should be asked, how does our handling of this please the Lord? The need for justice and the ensuing emotions as well as the various opinions should all be subject to the desires of a righteous God as revealed in Scripture. The Lord is not pleased in all of this. We cannot lose sight of that reality. Reconciliation will not be made by making statements. Reconciliation is made through repentance before a righteous God. All we want to do is win the argument and prove who is right. Until we are willing to kneel together and confess what we have done is wrong, there will be no peace.
- The church must itself become a community of protest and demonstration. I do not mean this in the sense of causing chaos in the streets, but the church should rise up and articulate the implications of the gospel in the culture. The church should be able to offer a convincing narrative of what is wrong and how to make it right. If there is racial prejudice, the church should not be merely a microphone for political pundits, the church should demonstrate that the gospel creates a peaceful community for both Jews and Greeks, men and women, white and black, rich and poor, etc (Gal. 3:25-29). What is in our pews should show an alternative to what is going on in the streets. Until the church repents of its own prejudice we have no voice in this.
- Through the lens of the gospel, Ferguson should cause us to open our eyes in our own communities. What is happening in Ferguson is merely a flashpoint for underlying tensions. We should not watch this situation from a safe distance, we should watch it and think critically about all of our communities. What is happening in Ferguson could just as easily happen in your town. We can’t turn a blind eye to this. Ferguson is a micro-narrative of a macro problem of secularism, spiritual apathy, unrestrained evil, and human rivalry that is threatening the fabric of our culture in all places. We need an awakening. We are blind. Ferguson is teaching all of us that it will cost us far more in human life and property if we wait until our problems are on the news before we begin to address them.
I grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s. We invented the power ballad. What child of the most eclectic and unreal generation of music hasn’t sat at a red light belting out Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and actually thought you sound just like Steve Perry? I do.
Some would argue that Dark Horse is not about Katy Perry, it is a song about drugs. Oh. My mistake. But is that progress or a sign that a girl that God loves is even more deeply disturbed?
I pray Katy Perry finds what David found in Psalm 30. Can you imagine a redeemed singer standing up at the Grammy’s, not simply thanking God for “this award” but actually saying what David said in his Psalm? Can you imagine Katy Perry standing on the world stage saying that she has been to Hell and back (Psalm 30:3) and has found that “His anger is but for a moment, and his favor for a lifetime (30:5).” Can you imagine Katy Perry standing before millions saying at a time in my life when I was least committed to Him, Christ remained committed to me? It is only when we become “wide awake” to this reality that we can truly overcome.
As a follow up to my review of Noah posted yesterday; the film leaves us with some incredible opportunities for conversations with unbelievers who will see it.
- Let’s talk Bible, particularly Genesis 6-9. The film gives us a marvelous opportunity to discuss the differences in Aronofsky’s film and the Biblical story. It will not be helpful to be irritatingly know-it-all about this. Let’s not point out the differences for difference sake. Let’s talk differences because the Bible’s account is much more hopeful. If anything Aronofsky does, he gives us a darker backdrop on which we can bring the Biblical epic to light. I think after people watch the film they will be relieved to hear the real thing.
- Let’s talk God. If non-believers walk away from this film without conversation I think it will be like Adam and Eve’s journey from the garden. The question Satan posed is about what God actually said and believing the lie cost them dearly. I think it is critical that we bring to light the goodness and grace of God as revealed in Scripture.
- Let’s talk sin. Aronofsky’s offers an insightful exploration of depravity and sin. It is in all of us. Are we any better off after the ark? With the film Aronofsky seems to mix messages here. In one sense he seems to say, perhaps there is enough good in man to be great without God’s help. On the other hand, Aronofsky seems to say that post-ark, in and of himself, man has no chance. I would agree with the latter assessment if it is what Aronofsky is saying. But when it comes to sin, we should point out, we cannot help ourselves, but indeed it is God who has provided for us a way of escape once again. The new world is not one that emerges from water, the new world is the one that will emerge from those who become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17).
- Let’s talk green. There is an important conversation that should be had concerning Christians and the environment. God’s people, as Noah rightly portrays, should be the ultimate environmentalists. We have done a poor job communicating the environmental concerns of the gospel. This is a message we need to recover quickly.
- Let’s talk judgment. I think Aronofsky has invited Christians to come to the table and offer a Biblical explanation of God’s judgment. I think the film alludes to the fact that the water was merely round 1, fire comes next. Noah offers a great line, water cleanses, it separates the innocent from the guilty. It brings new life while fire completely destroys. What a great opportunity to talk about the New Heavens and the New Earth that is to come post-fire. God is about new life and He wants a redeemed people to be a part of the truest of new worlds. The Noah film is a great conversation starter. People need to realize another judgment is coming and God has provided in Christ, like He did for Noah in the ark, a way of escape.
- Let’s talk life. I loved the emphasis on life Aronofsky brought to the film. In a culture in which life is minimized, particularly human life, I think the film championed the importance of humanity. I found it ironic that in such a moment of time in which we hear so much of the homosexual agenda, the importance of man and woman and their capacity to bring forth the blessing of life found a prominent place in the film. Even in the end, it was Shem and Ila who have the only hope of fulfilling The Creator’s initial agenda of being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth. Furthermore, as we are bombarded with secular environmentalist concerns of population control and man being so bad for the planet, this final scene that emphasizes the blessing of birth and population multiplication was refreshing. Man is not a burden to the planet, he is its greatest blessing.