In the military, when a commissioned officer walks into the room, you’ll hear the senior NCO call the room to attention. Oftentimes, the command will be as succinct as “On your feet!”
At that point, you’ll hear a rush of uniform commotion as everyone in that room quickly rises to their feet and snaps to attention. When it’s done right, there’s a sense of pride that wells up within you as a casual congregation of different personalities suddenly stands as polished military professionals while simultaneously shutting down and shutting out everything save the officer that’s just entered the room.
It also serves as a good way to visually capture the kind of disposition I want to advocate in the context of our discussion this morning.
A) Sunday Morning - On Top of Your Spiritual Game
When we meet to worship on Sunday mornings, I like that phrase “on your feet” as far as how it can apply to the way in which you want to be on top of your game spiritually in order to focus your attention and your energies in a way that’s befitting your King.
It says in the Old Testament:
Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. (Lev 19:30)
But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple. (Psalm 5:7)
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. (Ecc 5:1)
And then in Mark, chapter eleven:
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: “‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[a]? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mk 11:15-17)
You want to be “on your feet” every time you walk into God’s House. Being reverent is appropriate, given the fact that God merits a worshipful and respectful disposition. It’s also beneficial in that by being intentionally engaged, the Purpose, Peace and Power that is our King is legitimately accessed and not just casually acknowledged.
B) A Lifestyle and Not Just a Weekly Appointment
Thing is, being diligent and at your best from a spiritual standpoint isn’t something you want to limit to Sunday morning. As believers, each one of us is a Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) 24 /7 and, as such, verses like 1 Peter 5:8 makes even more sense:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Pet 5:8)
It’s a lifestyle and not just a weekly appointment. Nor is it a mere defensive play that you call when you see the offense getting ready to run you over. It’s a strategy that you have perpetually in place so you’re constantly moving the ball down the field (2 Cor 3:18).
That’s the thing, I believe, is lacking in many of the Christian circles that exist today. When Joshua was getting ready to take over for Moses, he didn’t have much of an opportunity to start in the shallow end of the pool. Joshua’s very first assignment was to cross the Jordan River at flood stage and then to make his way to Jericho where a strong city stood with a silent resolve to endure and triumph over the nation of Israel and their God.
Consider for a moment the Canaanites. These were combat hardened warriors that were as ruthless as they were decadent. Israel lives in tents. Jericho is a city surrounded by a wall of stone. From every perspective, on every level, the Israelites are outmatched, out gunned and out manned. But Joshua is nevertheless told no less than four times in chapter one to be strong and courageous.
Are you hearing that? Can you smell the desert sand? Can you hear the din of the Israelite nation around you? Can you feel the tension in the air as a new generation of Hebrews is preparing to embark on a military campaign built on their faith more so than their armory? And there’s Joshua, Moses’ right hand man, now in charge. No doubt, he’s terrified given the odds, the stakes and the hundreds of thousands of eyes that are now on him.
But when God says, “Have I not commanded you?” You can rest assured that regardless of how things appear, there’s a prize that’s not only worth taking, but a fight that’s already been won. And to Joshua’s credit, he caught that vision, he embraced that Reality and he went on to do great things in the Power of the One Who commissioned him.
You hear the same dynamic in the New Testament. The Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). Matthew 6:6 where God says not to worry about your life – what you’re going to eat or what you’re going to wear. Matthew 10 where it says not to worry about what you’re going to say when someone calls you on the carpet to defend what you believe and why. Philippians 4 where it says to not be anxious about anything.
Folks, there has never been a time where a victimized mentality was appropriate for the believer (1 Jn 4:4). Like Joshua, while it’s not always easy to “feel” confident, we’ve got every reason to “be” confident nevertheless (Is 41:10; Acts 4:23-31; Rom 8:28; Phil 2:13).
Yet, that confidence is in direct proportion to the degree of intensity with which we engage the Source of our confidence. Correctly handling the word of Truth is not something that happens by itself (2 Tim 2:15). Maintaining a perspective that positions God’s Sovereignty as the filter through which one processes themselves and the world around them requires discipline (Ps 121:1-2; Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 9:24-27; 1 Pet 5:8). And being an effective witness and one that truly makes an impact mandates more than just a quick overview of Scripture – especially when it comes to the issue of “judging” and championing the idea of moral absolutes.
That’s why we’ve got to be “on our feet” at all times when it comes to being fit, spiritually. Not just for the sake of being able to effectively navigate our own lives, but also for the sake of being a compelling witness to those who are on the outside looking in.
C) Salt and Light
Matthew 5:13-16 says:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:13-16)
Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage was legal in all 50 states. I was in Vegas when I learned of their decision and it struck me with an even greater impact given the way in which Vegas can be so extravagant in the way it sometimes promotes perversion and decadence. Seeing the news broadcasted on a the side of a brilliantly lit skyscraper seemed both appropriate and telling given the way in which Vegas, to some extent, requires an amoral dynamic in order to prosper.
In some ways, though, it’s baffling. How can something so contrary to that which is logical and morally sound be embraced and celebrated as a personal right? It becomes even more convoluted when you have popular speakers within the Christian community supporting the decision, as though the Bible is either silent or presents homosexuality as agreeable to God.
Our mandate as believers is to be salt and light. We’re to be distinctive in a truly appealing way in order to inspire curiosity and admiration on the part of those who don’t know Christ. But that doesn’t happen if we’re either so casual in our faith that we can’t discern the difference between what’s acceptable to God and what isn’t, or so willing to believe that darkness and light can occupy the same spiritual space.
D) Avoid All Extremes
This morning, we’re not going to be looking at homosexuality, per se. But we are going to be considering it in the context of how we need to get “on our feet” in terms of the way in which we champion the Truth of God’s Word. Is homosexuality wrong? Certainly. But what is it that represents a truly biblical response? Some would say that you simply embrace the sin in the name of Christian fellowship and refrain from “judging” them for their choice of a perverse lifestyle. On the other extreme, you have those whose words and actions repel those who might otherwise be open to hearing about God’s Love.
Ecclesiastes 7:18 says:
It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. (Ecc 7:18)
Proverbs 9:10 says:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Prov 9:10)
E) Make a Difference and Not Just an Appearance
We’re not here to make an appearance, we’re here to make a difference (Eph 2:10). That difference is made according to the extent we align our spiritual tires to the axle of God’s Truth and Power. He is our template and it’s His Word that constitutes the foundation upon which we build our convictions. And it’s in His Word that we find content that not only teaches us what to say, but how to say it as well. That’s part of the “balance” referred to in Ecclesiastes (see also Prov 25:11). That’s the “wisdom” in Proverbs 9:10. We can’t just run into a room and start blowing people away with biblical bullets all the while believing that because we’re using Scripture they should welcome our assault on what they believe is essential to their happiness.
This is more than just a controversial issue and the stakes go beyond legislative action. It’s not even the soul of our nation as much as it’s the heart of a culture that has drifted into a sea of question marks and is desperate for some exclamation points. If we’re going to be any help, we’ve got to get “on our feet” and do more than quote Christ, we’ve got to be Christ.
II) John Adams on the Constitution
You’ve heard his name. John Adams. 2nd President of the United States. A position he secured after having served as two terms as Vice President under George Washington. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, America’s ambassador to France along with Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and one of the chief architects of the Massachusetts Constitution which would go on to serve as the primary model for the United States Constitution.1
At one point, he said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”2
He’s right. A society that longs to distance themselves from any notion of a moral absolute should not be expected to create legislation that fosters godly behavior.
III) Is Homosexuality Sinful?
Is homosexuality sinful? Absolutely! It’s referenced both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In every scenario, it is referred to as a godless abomination and totally contrary to the created order. Period (see Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:27; 1 Cor 6:9-10). For more reading on that subject, feel free to visit muscularchristianityonline.com.
By the way, I’ve written several articles about homosexuality, not because I’m especially fixated on that issue, as much as it’s because, in many ways, it’s one of the more visible topics that demonstrate the moral deterioration that results in a society where the Christian element allows itself to be become either more relaxed or seeks to be more isolated.
But, here’s the thing:
Neither of those two responses constitute legitimate options.
A) Don’t Judge
Let’s pause for a moment and look at the way in which some within the Christian community processes the decadence that we sometimes encounter in our culture.
First of all, the Bible offers a comprehensive guide to addressing sin and helping both believers and non-believers better appreciate the compromises they’re making and the prize that they’re missing (Ps 19:12; Rom 12:2; 1 Cor 9:24; Phil 3:14).
Some want to interpret Matthew 7:1-2 as a general admonishment to not be judgmental. That is a misinterpretation which is immediately revealed by considering other verses like Matt 18:15-17; Jn 5:24; Eph 5:11; 2 Tim 4:2. The text in Matthew 7 is saying you don’t ever want to try and correct someone when you’re guilty of the very thing you’re criticizing. Throughout Scripture we are commanded to be discerning, as far as identifying behavior that is contrary to God’s Word. But there’s a difference in the way you approach a believer versus a non-believer. Let’s take a look.
First of all, non-believers are born into a no-win situation. They are / we were slaves to sin from the start and devoid of a spiritual pulse (Job 5:7; Ps 51:5; 58:3; Rom 6:17; Phil 3:19; 2 Pet 2:10-12). Again, this is who we were before we were redeemed (Eph 5:8; Col 1:21). We should never feel superior or more enlightened then our unsaved counterparts. Rather, it’s a cue to be all the more grateful to a God that was willing to pick us up and clean us off. It’s possible to “act” good, but “being” good is an entirely different matter and requires a Divine Solution. That’s the good news of the gospel and that’s the gift of grace. Prior to that, however, one’s moral compass isn’t founded on any Absolute save the one that resonates as the most advantageous at the time.
That’s part of the justification that some use when they say that we are to simply love those on the outside and not judge them according to their sinful lifestyle. Either they don’t know any better or lack the spiritual foundation that honors and embraces the reality and advantages of a moral Absolute. Either way, their disposition is such where they’re not going to respond to a presentation predicated on their “moral filth.”
That’s true and that’s consistent with the example of Christ that we’ll look at in a moment. But there’s a difference between focusing on a person’s heart – which in turn inspires their sinful lifestyle – and that situation where you’re advocating the idea that their lifestyle is not sinful.
Jesus never glossed over a person’s sin (Jn 4:17-18; 5:14; 8:11). He never even implied that their lives were devoid of anything that mandated the grace of God. But He didn’t need to. When He spoke to those people that are referenced in the aforementioned verses, the substance of His interaction with them was recognized as a potentially huge increase in their overall happiness and fulfillment. What they had done, in terms of their lifestyle, was neither a topic nor a distraction simply because one’s sin – regardless of what that sin may be – is a byproduct of the condition of one’s heart and their relationship with God. That is what Christ focused on. And those He spoke to knew that they were in the presence of the only One Who could facilitate the new life and the new heart they required. When one stands before Christ, your unworthiness is a given. But because of His grace, it’s a non-entity and the only thing that registers is the greatness of God and an intense desire to immerse yourself more in His Presence and Power.
But the one thing that represents a common denominator in each of these interactions is that those who were being addressed by Christ recognized their need for Christ. If you’re not willing to acknowledge yourself as a sinner, then you don’t need grace. That’s why it’s important to recognize that there is such a thing as wrongful behavior and that it’s ultimately defined in Scripture. To water it down or to muffle its voice is to minimize its utility. If I’m not a sinner, I don’t need a Savior. If there’s no need to repent, then I don’t need to be redeemed.
So, when interacting with someone who’s not born again, you want to present an approachable pathway to the grace of God by focusing on who they are (their heart) and not what they’ve done (their actions). That doesn’t mean you discount God’s verdict. What it does mean, is that you highlight God’s grace.
Believers, on the other hand, are handled a little differently. Unlike non-believers, they have the wisdom and the power to recognize temptation and rise above it (Jn 16:13; 1 Cor 10:13 Jas 1:5; 2 Pet 1:3; 1 Jn 4:4). Therefore, when they determine to rebel, they’re not doing so because they have no other option. Rather, they’re willfully turning their back on everything that God is saying and offering.
When they do this, Scripture says to “expel the wicked man from among you” (1 Cor 5:13). But the goal is restoration and not merely condemnation (2 Cor 2:5-11). You reprove to improve (Eph 5:11).
Some are very vocal with their criticisms as far as how the church will sometimes seemingly “kill their own.” If it’s done right, that won’t be the case. But it’s important to realize, too, that believers never fall into temptation, they have to jump. There is a sinister resolve in place that’s even more incriminating then their unsaved counterpart because of the Strength and the Truth that lives within them. To be that blatant in their disregard for the One they supposedly worship is a problem that needs to be addressed and not just observed.
It’s important also to remember that not everyone who claims to know Christ is, in fact, born again. Should a believer exhibit rebellious behavior with no sense of remorse and conviction, it could be that the lights aren’t on and that’s one more reason to be vigilant as far as inappropriate behavior within the church community (Matt 7:18; 1 Jn 3:6).
IV) The Example of Christ
Having looked at the Biblical Truths that apply to the reality of sin and the manner in which we want to approach either a believer or a non-believer that’s headed down the wrong road, let’s consider the conversation Jesus had with the woman at the well and look at the way He navigated that discussion.
First of all, ask yourself, “Do I like to be told that I’m wrong?” Of course you don’t! And if the subject has anything to do with what you equate to be crucial to your personal happiness and fulfilment, the conversation is that much more volatile.
If you want to bring something to the table that you know is contrary to the way the person you’re talking to is currently operating, you need to consider the example of Christ and the way He engaged those who were antagonistic to His Message.
When someone is telling you something you don’t agree with, you’re either thinking or saying, “No.” Now consider this:
The psychological patterns here are quite clear. When a person says “No” and really means it, he or she is doing far more than saying a word of two letters. The entire organism—glandular, nervous, muscular—gathers itself together into a condition of rejection. There is, usually in minute but sometimes in observable degree, a physical withdrawal or readiness for withdrawal. The whole neuromuscular system, in short, sets itself on guard against acceptance.3
When you’re saying “no” to a person who’s attempting to win you over to their way of thinking, you’re not simply expressing an unwillingness to agree with what’s being said. There’s a formidable wall being built, comprised of emotional, psychological, and physical elements, that make it very difficult for even the most logically sound idea to be embraced.
On the other hand:
…a person says “yes,” none of the withdrawal activities takes place. The organism is in a forward—moving, accepting, open attitude. Hence the more “yeses” we can, at the very outset, induce, the more likely we are to succeed in capturing the attention for our ultimate proposal.4
When you can be convinced that there’s some common ground between you and the person who’s attempting to win you over to their school of thought, you are far more inclined to go along with what they’re saying the more you hear yourself agreeing with what they’re advocating.
In light of that, consider Jesus’ conversation with the woman at the well in John 4.
Jesus has a Message that He wants to communicate. He has something He wants to “sell” this woman who’s approaching the well that He’s sitting beside. He wants to let her know that the Messiah has come and that all of the religious sounding rhetoric that has weighed her down with indictments and guilt can now be replaced with a liberating Truth that will change her life.
But this particular woman is hard. She’s coming to retrieve water during the hottest part of the day. Everyone else comes in the morning, before it gets too hot. But she’s not interested in coming when there are other people around because she has a reputation and she doesn’t want to be maligned by all the other women who know who she is and some of the choices she’s made. She wants to get her water and get home. The last thing she wants or expects is some random guy to start talking to her. And it’s just then that Jesus asks her a question.
“Will you give me a drink?”
By asking her that question, Jesus has demonstrated a willingness to step over several cultural boundaries. He’s a Jews, she’s a Samaritan. Those two people groups don’t mix. The fact that He’s willing to brush those aside is at least surprising, if not intriguing.
She’s not necessarily impressed yet, but she’s interested enough to ask Him a question.
Compare that to the stereotypical way in which some well-meaning believers will initiate a conversation with someone by suggesting that they’re on the way to hell.
Do you see the difference?
Jesus segues right into the subject of “living water.” “Living water” was not processed by her as some lofty, theological term. She heard it as fresh water as opposed to the stagnant water that people were sometimes obligated to endure because of the lack of healthy water sources.
She’s definitely interested now, but still a little guarded. Jesus tells her to go get her husband at which point she tactfully responds by saying that she doesn’t have a husband.
She’s been married five times and is currently living in sin. Contemplate for a moment the manner in which Jesus could’ve responded.
He could’ve rightfully said that she was an adulterer, which, according to Old Testament law, was punishable by death (Lev 20:10). He could’ve called her on the carpet for her current level of promiscuity. But instead, He simply said “You’re right.”
He’s not excusing her sin, but He’s strategically refraining from anything that could come across as negative. By guiding the conversation in the context of questions and statements that inspire a positive response, Jesus is able to blow right past all those things that would otherwise distract from that woman’s true, spiritual need.
V) Hittin’ the Pavement
Truth and reality often appear to play very well together when you’re discussing topics such as these in the context of like-minded people what at least have some sort of regard for God’s Word.
The moment you hit the streets, however, you’re contending with a spiritual landscape that’s punctuated with demonic forces that are aggressively countering anything you might do or say that points people to the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6). While there is a place for well-rehearsed scripts and aggressive campaigns, it is the light of a life well lived and an approachable witness that is intentionally fueled by a knowledge of God’s Word and a resolve to imitate Christ in the way He interacted with those on the outside looking in that makes the biggest difference.
The Homosexual Agenda is as sinister as it is effective. It doesn’t stop at legislation that provides for same sex marriages. While it strategically uses words like “justice” and “compassion,” at the core of their mission is to retool and / or silence any institution that advocates the existence of moral absolutes.
Under the guise of “hate speech” and “discrimination,” the church stands to be positioned as something that is ultimately detrimental to an enlightened society.
We don’t have the time to be anything less than effective as far as the way we respond. So how do we respond?
You’ve got to get on your feet.
- Know what you believe and why you believe it
- Be on top of your spiritual game by studying your Bible. Read for yourself what God has to say about controversial issues and own your faith
- Pray. Pray like your Savior. (Matt 6)
- Ensure that your faith manifests itself in a way that translates to a life worth imitating
The homosexual lifestyle pales in comparison to a truly godly home. I’m not talking about a family devoid of tension or struggles. I’m talking about a family that prays and laughs together. I’m talking about a husband and wife that still date. I’m talking about kids that leave home and make a difference because of the Truth and the Power of God that’s been breathed into them by their Mom and Dad. I’m talking about a family that’s humbled when they win and strong when they lose.
And on a grander scale, I’m talking about a church that serves in a way that is seen and felt in their community. I’m talking about a reputation that’s defined not so much in terms of “activism” as much as it is changed lives.
I’m talking about something so appealing, so obvious, so powerful and so beyond the realm of anything human, that people want to know the God you serve more than the sin that controls them.
This morning’s invitation is simple. If you need to “get on your feet,” then get up here.
If you need to get saved, let’s get it done. If you’re spiritual disciplines as far as spending time with God every day in prayer and Bible study is lacking, get up here. Let’s get you hooked up with an accountability partner and get that taken care of. If you want to just pray with somebody or have somebody pray for you that your life would be a better billboard for the King that you serve – that your family, your workplace, your city and your nation would be positively impacted by the strength of the life that you’re living -c’mon!
Get on your feet!
1. Massachusetts Court System, John Adams, Architect of American Government, http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/edu-res-center/jn-adams/john-adams-architect-of-american-government.html , accessed July 1, 2015
2. Message of John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, belief.net, http://www.beliefnet.com/resourcelib/docs/115/Message_from_John_Adams_to_the_Officers_of_the_First_Brigade_1.html, accessed July 1, 2015
3. Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1936), 284
4. Ibid, 284
For further reading…