vs.28 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. vs.29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, vs.30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, vs.31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. vs.32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom 1:28-32 ESV)
Paul is not describing an especially bad group of people, simply pagan society as he knew it in his day. Few can now deny that after centuries of Christianising these words apply to contemporary Australia where many believers have been shocked by the animosity of the Yes side on the same-sex marriage (SSM) debate.
Head buttings, sackings, attempts to de-register Christian doctors, threats to “hate-f…” those who believe in traditional marriage and so on have been astonishing.
Anyone who says anything in the least unfavourable about homosexuals is termed “homophobic”; i.e. someone who hates gays and is guilty of hate speech.
Whilst the marriage debate might seem to be a political or moral quarrel it is about something far deeper.
It is a manifestation of lost humanity’s true heart towards God.
Despite surface appearances the average Australian is not simply a “She’ll be right mate!” person happy to allow you to have your opinion as long as it doesn’t interfere with their hedonistic lifestyle. Rather, the average Aussie “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness…. hates the light… children of the devil… curses God” (John 3:20 ESV; Rom 1:18 ESV; 1 John 3:10 ESV; Rev 16:9 ESV). In his wisdom the Lord is using the SSM debate that “thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”” (Luke 2:35 ESV). His gracious intention is to bring to an end the sheltered middle class spectator religion that has long dominated Australian church going.
HATE IS BLIND
The hatred of fallen human beings always robs them of spiritual clarity. If “everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light” (John 3:20 ESV), and “in your (God’s) light do we see light” (Ps 36:9 ESV), then the angry devotees of SSM are spiritually blind. In their wrath to destroy whatever stands in the way of their vision they cannot see the light of the gospel (2 Cor 4:4 ESV).
These are beast like irrational people (Jude 1:10 ESV; 2 Pet 2:12 ESV). God is no passive bystander in this conflict, in his wrath has handed people over to this dreadful condition (Isa 44:18 ESV; Rom 1:24, 26, 28 ESV).
Ordinary Christians are shocked by the vilification they receive on Facebook if they post, “It’s Ok to say No.”, but the Spirit is helping us to see that we are in a day of moral and spiritual insanity.
As ex-gay activist James Parker puts it, the real problem in Western culture is not homophobia but heterophobia.
This is why, for example, the Safe Schools programme in schools is agitating against heteronormativity; labelling as dangerous the view that the normal state of human sexuality is to be male or female.
It used to be said that “love is blind”, but in the case of God’s love this is absolutely untrue. Only through the love of God revealed in the cross of Christ can we see good and evil as they really are.
JESUS LOVES THE HATERS
This prophetic word about Jesus, “‘They hated me without a cause.’” (Ps 69:4 ESV; John 15:25 ESV), is a true description at one level but not at another.
On the one hand Jesus never said or did anything that was harmful to another person’s well being, so that there was no reason to hate him. On the other hand those who hated Jesus held an ultimate intention in their hearts, they hated him because he was God-in-the-flesh (John 10:31-33 ESV).
All human anger against God was projected on to Christ; ““The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”” (Rom 15:3 ESV).
The reality of humanity’s fury against the Creator became perfectly evident at the cross.
Here Jesus bears the rage of the nations against the Lord and the fierce hostility of men who behave like mad wild beasts (Ps 2:1; 22:12ff. ESV). The dying Jesus receives no mercy at human hands because he has become the focus of all of humanity’s resentments against God. Immersed in the darkness of our hate there is no divine light for the sinless Son of God; hence his cry, ““My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34 ESV).
The cross is the one place in history where human beings openly treat God as they think he deserves!
But when Jesus prays, ““Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”” (Luke 23:34) it is clear that however God hates sin (Ps 11:5 ESV; Mal 1:3 ESV; Rev 2:6 ESV) he in no way hates as we do. His intent is never to destroy, but only to heal; “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13 ESV).
YOU ARE IMPORTANT
Jesus promised us, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you”” (John 15:18 ESV).
His assurance that the disciples would ““be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”” (Matt 24:9 ESV) has powerful implications long been forgotten in the Western Church.
Those who are ignored as irrelevant cannot experience the “weight of glory” that belongs to those who commune with the sufferings of Christ (2 Cor 4:17 ESV; Phil 3:10 ESV).
To be hated for faith is a sign of spiritual significance and imparts a deep sense of worth in the image of Christ. The bad temper of the SSM debate is a God-given opportunity for us to live out the unconditional forgiveness of the gospel. Where this is practiced in love we can anticipate a visitation bringing tremendous illumination of spiritual reality. This is how the Lord is using the bizarre attitudes and values of our time to purify us his Church.
When a believer recently prayed, “the path is narrowing” (Geoff Morris), I could hear what the Spirit was saying to the churches (Matt 7:13-14 ESV; Rev 2:7 ESV etc.).
The King is moving us off the comfortable broad way of church services where mood music anaesthetises “worshippers” against the oppressive power of the wickedness daily surrounding them.
He is shifting us away from motivational addresses that hypnotise against the depth of depravity into which our nation has fallen. For decades many have prayed that the Lord shake out of his people everything other than his kingdom presence; but now it is happening few can see how the Spirit is moving (Heb 12:25-29 ESV).
Good does not depend on evil to exist, but only against the darkness of the terror of hate can we ever know just how good God was in sending his Son into the world to save us.
If we would be more like Christ and his Father we must suffer more from the anger of a world in wild rebellion against its Lord.
Only through this path of enlightenment can we appreciate that the wrath released by the SSM debate is a great gift to the Church. A gift to be received with praise and thanksgiving for the all surpassing wisdom in the gospel of a crucified Saviour (1 Cor 1:18-25 ESV). May we all embrace such a mindset to the glory of God.
MESSAGE DELIVERED: 2nd October, 2017 |
Author: Dr. John Yates
MESSAGE PODCAST: N/A |
Related Link: Nil