James 3:1 – Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.
This past week we had a lot of news. If you are not a Christian, some of this news will seem like non-news. But for Christians, there is a lot going on that needs to be talked about and studied. Four major news stories for Christians come to mind.
First, who hasn’t heard of Robin Williams’ suicide? No one. Robin Williams was an iconic actor, philanthropist, comedian, and activist. He was an Oscar-award winning actor who was battling depression which many speculate comes from his early onset Parkinson’s. Williams joked about his Episcopalian faith which he called “Catholic lite.” He struggled with addictions throughout his life, but overcame them and was sober and drug-free at the time of his death. He gave generously to UNICEF, St. Jude’s, Amnesty International, and raised over $50 million for the homeless through Comic Relief.
I am not going to get on this blog to discuss Robin Williams’ views on Christ, Christianity, or anything else. I am simply going to say that this should prompt us as Christians to a wake-up call. How long do we truly have with those we love?
Let me ask you a question, Christian? If you knew you held the keys to kingdom of heaven and withheld them from those you loved, would you be any better than a murderer? Now, a Christian is no better than a non-Christian. The only difference is that the Christian is going to heaven. But you are basically telling all of your loved ones they can go to hell if you withhold the saving grace of Christ from them.
Robin Williams made me laugh. In some of his movies he made me cry. In others, he drove me to action (you can’t tell me that when you watched Dead Poet Society that you didn’t want to stand on your school chair and chant, “Oh Captain, my Captain.”) But Robin Williams died before his friends desired him to die. He died before his loved ones expected it. How little time do we truly have to spend with our loved ones.
Make the most of it, Christian. Tell them about Christ. Show them love. Be the hands and feet of Christ to those we love the most.
James 3:5b-6 – Consider how large a forest a small fire ignites. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.
Next, both Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church were removed from the Acts 29 network of churches for something that Pastor Mark wrote online many years earlier. In 2000, Pastor Mark attacked Christian men and used various vulgar terms to do so. He also went on to claim some very antagonistic statements against women, saying that his view was Biblical.
This has caused countless of his flock to protest Mars Hill with banners that say “Question Mark.”
Now I am not a perfect person. Especially in this digital age, it is very easy for something we said many years earlier to show up and destroy our character. If this was simply something that happened in 2000 and he learned from it, repented and forgot it, then this would be less of an issue. But that isn’t where the story ends. He continued to celebrate it in 2006 and then later plagiarized sections of his 2013 book A Call to Resurgence. Pastor Mark has had years of living a lie and no accountability.
I have read a lot of what Pastor Mark wrote in 2000. He speaks a lot of truth in his words. But he also speaks a lot of heresy in there. But one thing is for certain, what we say (whether through our mouths or through our hands in writing) will be with us for a very long time.
I pray for Pastor Mark. I have read a lot of his works and have even used a lot of his quotes over my years at seminary and even to this day. I pray that he gets the help needed to continue the ministry that God has set in front of him. In the meantime, Christians should be very open about how Christianity is not the invention of man, but of God. We follow God. Yes, there will be great men who come and go and provide us with great insight into the faith, but the final authority to every Christian is the Bible. That is what I stake my life on, not on what Pastor Mark said or didn’t say.
James 3:13-16 – Who is wise and has understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil.
Third is that the Gungors, who won Dove Awards for their worship hits “Beautiful Things” and “Dry Bones” came out as saying that they don’t take the Bible as literal and came out calling Christians who do “crazy.” While they did apologize for those who felt they were deceived by their belief, they did not apologize for the outburst afterward that attacked literal-minded Christians, myself as one.
Christianity is filled with people who believe slightly different things than other Christians. That is why there are so many denominations out there, some heretical, others completely acceptable. God gave us a brain and the ability to think. Because of that, many of us are going to come to conclusions about Biblical views. Certain things, such as when the rapture is going to happen, for example, are not tenets of the Christian faith that can be easily explained. But then there are those items that are very straightforward that ALL Christians should believe. These include the deity of Christ, the Trinity, and the inerrancy/infallibility of Scripture.
It is very dangerous when a person in authority is not held accountable to anyone. This is always the danger with musicians. Many musicians write their songs in a vacuum, without anyone to review it other than the producer who is hoping to make millions from the song. The same thing happens in movies or on TV or, unfortunately, in some churches. Everyone needs accountability. Without accountability, you will begin to stray your thoughts away from Biblical instruction and into your own views. My suggestion to everyone reading this is to find someone to hold you accountable. Your own personal accountability is what God will be looking at when you stand in front of Him on your final day.
James 3:17-18 – But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
Finally, another popular Christian musician has come out with something against Scripture. Vicky Beeching came out as gay, claiming God loves her just the way she is. Now while there is some truth to that, there needs to be more clarification than a soundbite. Beeching wrote the worship song, “Glory to God Forever” told various newspapers in the UK about her views. She came out with the quote, “I feel certain God loves me just the way I am, and I have a huge sense of calling to communicate that to young people.”
Vicky is not completely incorrect in her statement, but, as with all lies, they are usually masked in some truth.
God does love every person regardless sexual preference. But just because God loves you does not give you license to call a sin in the Bible acceptable. Homosexuality is clearly a sin. It is a sin against yourself and God.
If you are gay, I am not saying that you cannot be saved. My brother lived a gay man and died a gay man. I believe he had a stronger faith than many of the professed straight Christians out there. But my brother did one thing that many do not. He took his homosexuality captive to Christ.
You see, when we become a Christian, we choose to leave behind our old ways. If you were ever addicted to alcohol, drugs, sex, work or whatever, you will know what I mean. You leave behind those addictions. But that does not mean the feelings will simply go away. You kick an addiction to alcohol, you give it up and never drink again. That is what my brother did with his homosexuality. He chose to give it up and never practice it again. He prayed incessantly for Christ to keep him pure.
That is what we need to do with every sin, whether it is large, like homosexuality or addiction, or small. Ask Christ to take your sins from you. Nail them to the cross. Take them captive to Christ. Give them completely up to Him.
James 3:11-12 – Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.