"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

A Pagan America Is Cause for Excitement

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (II Corinthians 4:7).

I saw my first Catfish television show this week. My son told me about it. Very few people over thirty years of age have probably seen the show, but most people under thirty probably watch every episode. It is a documentary about people creating false on-line profiles and then engaging in on-line relationships with other people, all the while pretending to be somebody other than who they really are. The show is raunchy. The show is ridiculous. The show is revealing.

Our world has hit rock bottom.

Our world is filled with bottom feeders.

Bisexual, transsexual, homosexual, asexual -- it matters not; all that matters is that you feel good about yourself. The idea that there is a God to whom a human being is accountable is laughable. To teach young people that the world revolves for a purpose, and that purpose is not self-indulgence, is like teaching a foreign language. Christians are a minority in America. Make it known you believe in Jesus Christ and remind people that every human being will one day give an account to Him for the way they have lived their lives, and you will be called a racist, intolerant, homophobic or any other number of epithets. America is pagan. Americans are pagan. Paganism reigns.

It's about time.

Christians have had far too much political power for far too long. Christians have been way too comfortable for way too long. Worldly power and comfort are to Christianity what diesel is to gasoline cars; it might fit in the gas tank, but over time the engine always sputters and stops. Christians need to suffer a little persecution and feel what it is like to be in the minority. The all-surpassing power of God is never seen or felt when our clay jars look like jewel encrusted golden bowls.

Jesus took twelve disciples in the middle of a pagan Roman empire and transformed the world. For the first few hundred years disciples of Christ were beaten, abused, tortured, and even murdered for their faith. Some were thrown in vats of boiling water, others were crucified upside down, some were stoned, and a few were thrown to the wild animals in arenas filled with pagans laughing and betting how long the poor Christian would last. No follower of Jesus Christ in those early days expected power, riches or worldly goods. Rare were the Lydias who sold purple to the elite or the Christian noblemen who walked the corridors of power. Those ancient Christians were weak by the world's definitions. They had no fame or fortune. They were despised and ridiculed. They experienced penetrating physical and psychological pain from people who perpetually protested their purity. To follow Christ may have meant heaven in their hearts, but it was definitely hell in their hoods.

Yet, in those early days followers of Christ didn't fight those who offended or abused them; they loved them. They didn't bitterly renounce their earthly countries. How could they? They were looking for a better country and a city not built with human hands. They never thought in terms of a material kingdom because they had entered into a kingdom not always seen with the physical eye. The power they had was spiritual. The aura of their presence was Divine. The inner strength they possessed was priceless. Those early Christians may have looked like little ole inexpensive and weak clay jars to the world at large, but the world soon came to see that there was a treasure within them--a treasure missing in the lives of bottom feeders. 

That's how the world will be changed. We followers of Jesus Christ don't need to moan that America is now pagan. We need not complain over our loss of political or economic power. We must simply walk among bottom feeders and show that the Divine Treasure is within us.

Let the show begin.

42 comments:

Lisa Chilson Rose said...

Well said Wade.
A sister in Christ

Steven Stark said...

Some of my good friends are a lesbian couple that have been married for 14 years. I played at their wedding.

One is in the military reserves. If they are legally married (they are already married in their own eyes), then her partner can receive active duty pay just like the spouses of her colleagues in uniform. As of now, they receive hundreds of dollars less a month than other military families.

That is not just. That is not honoring love and commitment.

To even suggest they those two can be equated with "bottom feeders". I just don't understand.

We are mixing up concern with people's private parts over concern for supporting love and commitment - and family.

We are losing the spirit in favor of an ancient legalistic law that is irrelevant today.

Let's let the power of love trump the love of power.

As far as labels - the word "pagan" or "christian" or "god" or "sandwich" or anything - they don't mean anything. Only right and wrong matters.

Wade Burleson said...

Steven,,

I would not expect you to understand. Nor do I desire to offend you (or your friends).

However, to live a self-indulgent life, to ignore the standard of morality established by Christ, and to live a life of rebellion against the Creator is definitely living lower than man was intended to live.

I mean no insult. A catfish is quite pleased with bottom feeding , just like the Catfish (real people) in the television show are quite pleased living self-indulgently, regardless of the consequences of their behavior.

Shari England said...

Thank you Pastor. So very well said. And the way the Church has handled "paganism" has really bothered me. Whether it's name calling on Facebook, or protesting a protest. When you fight fire with fire, you get a bigger fire. Seems also we've muddied Christianity with patriotism, more passionate for the constitution than we are God's Word. Yes, America is in an entertainment cesspool that has leaked into the homes and hearts of the people. I continue to return always to 1 Cor. 13:13. Great faith and fervent hope and wonderful, but the greatest thing is LOVE. His love.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Well said Shari England.

Anonymous said...

I have not written before. I have been reading your blog for a while. I am amazed that you are an SBC pastor! I praise God for the wisdom he has given you. You are a blessing.
This last article is overwhelming - and correct. If we do not suffer with Christ, what part have we in him?
Suffering hurts. Most suffering comes to a Christian in America from the "Diotrephes" of the christian industries - large and small. The run like corporation change of command industries.
Most "Christians" are fine with resting in the pews - or do not express Biblical discontent. this approach to "worship" accompanies their everyday lives as well, and "preaching" is seldom done by other than the "heads" (with such great spiritual authority!)of the institutions. Of course even those "heads" only preach to the flock - usually.
Then there are people like you. thank God!
And we continue to love by God's grace everyone of those we see such faults in! And it's hard! But yet, after the hardness, we feel lighter than air - because Christ gives us a light burden, and he carries us. We ARE looking for that different Jerusalem - that city made without hands.
It is time to rejoice that we are closer to being county worthy of suffering for the cause of Christ!

Steven Stark said...

I think the real self-indulgence is in a legalistic ideology that creates easy "in" and "out" groups that cost ourselves little (since we are not gay).

I understand that desire well. When I say "I don't understand" I am referring to the fact that so many good people can fall prey to such thinking.

Once again, right is right and wrong is wrong - regardless of what name you assign to it - "God", "pagan", etc.


We need to ask ourselves why we believe what we believe. Do we stand against love and commitment for our gay friends and family because we are afraid God will hurt us? Because he is powerful?

Luckily, the Bible is not the perfect word of God - it is a very human book reflecting our best and worst qualities. However, even if it were totally right, would we do evil and persecute our gay friends and family because God commands it?

These are tough questions. But if love isn't what is right, then we are all lost anyway. Let's stand with love.



We are friends, of course, despite our difference! No personal offense taken! Or given, I hope! :)

Wade Burleson said...

"I think the real self-indulgence is in a legalistic ideology that creates easy "in" and "out" groups that cost ourselves little (since we are not gay)."

Point well taken.

The same could be said of lying, cheating, stealing, backbiting, adultery, gossiping, envy, jealousy, etc...

Same principle.

Wade Burleson said...

Steven,

If a man said to you, "Leave me and my nine-year old lover alone. We both love each other. If love isn't what is right, then we are all lost anyway. Let's stand with love. Stand with me."

I'm just curious where you draw the line as to what is moral and what is not?

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Thank you for an excellent article.

I'm surprised that the TV show isn't being aired in Australia. No doubt that will happen.

That hasn't prevented our media, especially TV, from living at the bottom of the pond, as revealed by the vomitus of the pagan mind that is passed off as entertainment, often as comedy.


Todd Frederick said...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer saw the Christian American apathy in the 1930s and 40s and said "...they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed...namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life." It drove him back to Nazi Germany where the Gospel was desperately needed (as well as social justice!). Of course, he paid for his preaching there with his life. I pray that our country remains safe from tyranny- this blog highlights that it will take hardship on the part of the church to bring it to a time where the Gospel is preached above all else.

John Wylie said...

Wade,

I realize that you don't need my approval, but you knocked it out of the park today. Well done and spot on.

Wade Burleson said...

I seem to have offended some people whom I highly respect (Steven included) by comparing this world to Catfish and using the phrase "bottom feeders."

Let me be clear. The play of words is directly related to the television show "Catfish."

All people by nature are bottom feeders, and "feeding off the bottom" includes FAR MORE sins than sexual sins. By nature, I am a bottom feeder.

At some point, grace raises one's eyes toward heaven to ask the question, "What do You want from me?" Catfish had people who literally told God "$%#& off - I will do as I please."

My point is their attitude and actions shouldn't upset us. We should love them, walk among them, and help them "for such were we." But we should show them that power of the Treasure in us.

Don't know if that helps, but thought I'd give it a shot for those offended by my words.

Kevin Sanders said...

Wade,
I've also really appreciated some of what Stetzer has said in light of recent political and cultural shifts. Look up his articles on Prop 8 and the "nones." I'll email them to you if you can't find them.

Bob Cleveland said...

If I noticed a melanoma on a friend's back. where he couldn't see it, I'd be the world's worst friend if I didn't tell him about it.

Some day, the folks who live in open rebellion against the specific wishes of God are going to stand before Him and have the privilege of explaining their lives to Him. What kind of friend would I have been if I hadn't warned such a friend?

I'd tell a friend about the melanoma even if I thought he might get mad at me. And melanoma isn't about an eternity of suffering.

Check scriptures about the end times, check the color of the fields, check what God says about how it was when Noah was here, check what Jesus said about his return, and rejoice, indeed.

These days are abundant for the believer.

Steven Stark said...

Wade,

I suspect you and I would have very similar answers as to why it is wrong for an adult to have a sexual relationship with a nine-year old. We would not consider that a loving act, even if the word "love" was invoked. And we would not need a Bible verse, though if one mentions that it is wrong - well, that's good.

But that is a different subject. Let's address one at a time or else we are getting close to a "slippery slope" discussion which doesn't really have any direct bearing on the specific question of whether a loving, committed relationship between two consensual gay adults is right or wrong.


As to "what is moral or what is not" - that is a great question to pursue. It is essential. And I would really enjoy discussing that deeply with you sometime. I am sure you would have much wisdom to offer me.

But "Because I said so" is not a good enough answer, whether the source is a person, an institution or a book, particularly when enforcing this "moral" involves denying a group the same rights that we enjoy - in other words, doing something most of us normally think of as wrong.

As one of my friends posted on FB yesterday - "Do you know what the opponents of same-sex marriage lost for themselves today? NOTHING."


There were a couple of other needless words in there, which I left out..... ;)


Steven Stark said...

I should make one more point - I am sure that if I watched the show "Catfish" with you, Wade, we would have similar reactions! I am sure we have a lot in common on morality.

I just found the juxtaposition of your point about this show with the picture of the diversity (gay) banner, and the SCOTUS decisions yesterday, extremely unfortunate.

The gay friends and family I am lucky to have are some of the finest people among us.


It's also interesting that you and the senior pastor at my church - Robin Meyers - take a similar position, namely, that Christianity should not be so mainstream - that it should stand more in opposition to today's empire, like it did in towards the Roman empire of old.

Of course the details are a bit different....... ;)

But I'll bet you two could have a great conversation.

Rex Ray said...

Steven Stark,
You remind me of:

1. “It takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others.” (Galatians 5:9)

2. “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own DESIRES, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

Steven, it takes wisdom to pursue answers, and the Bible teaches:

1. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom…” (Proverbs 9:10)

2. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. (Psalm 111:10)

3. “Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7)

Stephen, you said, “Lets address…the specific question of whether a loving, committed relationship between two consensual gay adults is right or wrong. As to "what is moral or what is not" - that is a great question to pursue.”

“God let them go ahead into every sort of sex sin…vile and sinful things with each other’s bodies…they deliberately chose to believe lies…their women indulged in sex sin with each other…and their men burned with lust for each other…” (Romans 1:24-27)

Steven, will America become as Judah?

“There was homosexuality throughout the land, and the people of Judah became as depraved as the heathen nations…” (1 Kings 14:24)

Steven do you believe America should heed this warning?

“He turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in the FUTURE to look back upon and FEAR.” (2 Peter 2:6)

RRR said...

What a GREAT blog and discussion and so timely!

I pray that such messages as this blog post will be preached, heard and read throughout the world to help the true church focus on whose we are and with what we have been charged. Surely we must be in the final chapters. Time is short!

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

You ask some great questions. Steven makes some excellent points as well.

It all boils down to the moral standard that is accepted. Is it the traditional Judeo-Christian morality of Scripture, or is it a cultural standard?

I am a libertarian at heart and believe in individual liberty. The difficulty is when a nation begins to redefine morality (for example, marriage) based upon a cultural definition.

That's just one illustration of what could be many.

I understand Steven's point about the unfortunate timing of this Catfish post with the reversal of DOMA, etc... As I told someone else, the show CATFISH was all about sexual deviants who life self-indulgent lives of deception, hurting countless people in their path. It is what it is.

Wade Burleson said...

Kevin,

Found them. Ed is a great writer and thinks through issues very well. Thanks for the heads up.

Nathan Petty said...

Steven, in response to your comment:

As one of my friends posted on FB yesterday - "Do you know what the opponents of same-sex marriage lost for themselves today? NOTHING."

This is, of course, a classical libertarian tenant, and one which is growing in popularity. As long as any decision, trend, event or condition does not cause "me" to "lose" some previously held personal "something", then my right to object, or even enter into the debate, is somehow invalidated.

This perspective, it seems to me, serves to preclude a constructive discussion of many issues which spring from a more broadly social and moral context.

To Steven, Wade and the other commenters, I appreciate the post and your comments. Very helpful insight for the Church which has been asleep far too long.

Steven Stark said...

Hi Rex Ray,

I think your points all depend on legalism and authoritarianism. The answer to "why?" is only "because it says so."

That's not good enough when it causes harm to others.


Wade,

Thanks for your words. We always have good discussions.

As to the "Judeo-Christian morality of Scripture" - which one? The one where slavery is OK, where a man can sell his daughter into servanthood as sanctioned in Exodus 21? The one where anyone who curses his/her parent should be put to death?

What about the one where a person must sell all his possessions to obtain salvation?

Or the one where certain foods or people are unclean just as a fact of their birth?



The Judeo-Chrsitan tradition has evolved over time as the facts on the ground have changed. There is no universal, objective, consistent morality throughout Scripture.

If there is a universal, objective morality - which I tend to believe in - then Scripture shows us fascinating and vital parts of humanity's evolution towards discovering it.


I tend to think that today, God and all of reality is offering our gay friends and family to Christians on a sheet from heaven and saying, "Do not call anything impure which God has made clean."

I know everyone will say I am putting words in God's mouth - but this is just a story, like the ones in Scripture. Rather, I am trying to discover more and more what is right and what is wrong - and why. Stories are a way to seek God.

I think our generation needs to build on the moral evolution of the giants who have come before us.

There is no compelling reason to discriminate against our gay brothers and sisters. There is no reason to ask them to give up family - the very thing we all value most.

Let's continue to seek God today as the writers of Scripture did.

Is God still speaking?

Best to all! Steven

Christiane said...

Hi WADE,

I'm going to share two comments I wrote over on SBCvoices that will very likely be deleted there by Pastor Miller,
but here goes, as these comments are sincerely meant to be helpful by providing perspective to all who are upset with the current political atmosphere:


"Christiane June 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

. . . in the midst of the current disappointment, please remember who our people are at heart and that we have great cause to hope:
“(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth)”
Ephesians 5:9

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3RnD6Tl-TY




13 Christiane June 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Soon, I hope that people stop reacting and focusing on the ‘darkness’ . . . satan has received enough attention
and now it is time to look forward towards the light and repent of the sin of hopelessness in the way Christ taught us to repent:
The Hebraic expression of repentance involves replacing a negative connotation with a positive one, focusing on the superior state being approached rather than the inferior prior state being departed from.

For too long, some Christian people have spent time ‘repenting’ by being negative themselves, and focusing on the negative in others’
instead of celebrating a positive returning towards the Lord . . .
a turning that involves a journeying of the mind, the heart, the soul, the spirit, the strength of a person becoming increasingly focused on Christ.

This has many names . . . teshuva, metanoia, repentance
. . . . the one who has been ‘in darkness’ begins the turn towards the ‘light’ “(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true)”

darkness is the absence of light . . . Christians must not continue to dwell negatively on the darkness once they have begun the great journey towards the light of Christ

examine your souls and remove the power of satan to drag you into hopelessness and despair . . . move towards the light of Christ, and don’t turn back to be impressed with the defeated power of darkness again "

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger said...

This was a very well written article that speaks to the Church today. However, if the discussion is truly about love then why are people so concerned about financial benefits? There are people homosexual and heterosexual who live together and they seemingly love one another. If it is about love then why the concern over legal status.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

I wonder whether you agree with my thoughts?

In 6o or so years of church life, most of that in ministry, one of the evidences regarding ones status of being a genuine follower of Christ, is not Bible knowledge, but a gracious spirit when dealing with others, no matter who they are, or what they believe.

The reception of God's great gift of saving grace through the finished work of Christ engenders the expression of graciousness in those who are privileged to receive God's great gift.



JW said...

I am seeing the flood gates open to the extent that it almost seems that heterosexuality will be abnormal or looked upon in disdain if you seek to uphold it. It seems this way anyway. I also see the attack on God and using phrase such as an old dusty book. The spirit of antichrist?
Seems we are in a new age and the 5-10% of the population that was promoted as gay has coaxed the population, through twisted logic, to accept them and push to overturn DOMA. We will soon be as Canada with this issue.

The question then becomes how do we respond intelligently to this? Even some who call themselves Christian are in proud support of this message.

Wade Burleson said...

Aussie John,

Agreed! Wholeheartedly.

Rex Ray said...

Steven,

You said, “…your points all depend on legalism and authoritarianism.”

What “authoritarianism” are you talking about except God’s?

You said, “That's not good enough when it causes harm to others.”

Who made you the judge of what harm is? Do you know more than God’s plan for men and women to be happy?

Before you start defending homosexuality, why don’t you try it if there’s nothing in the Bible against it? Are you afraid of losing your soul?

I think you’d make a good partner to convince Eve to eat the forbidden fruit…after all, God’s Word is only authoritarianism.

Joe Blackmon said...

Rex Ray,

You are a joke. Arguing in defense of the word of God when you don't believe it. Remeber, not all of it is God's word, right, Moderate?

BTW, I still laugh everytimeI think of your son losing his job as a missionary. I thank God for the Conservative Resurrgence. :-)

Steven Stark said...

Rex Ray,

If there is no other reason behind it, then yes, "God's word" is only authoritarianism.

Do I think I know more than God? Good Lord, no! If there is a God, then that entity knows more than I ever will by an infinitely long shot. However, it is one thing to claim authority in the face of mystery. It is another to do something outright evil and then claim the same thing.

Persecuting my gay friends and family would be absolutely wrong. If I am wrong, then I pray for correction, and I hope that God will show me a path of goodness beyond my wildest dreams.

But I will not do things my conscience tells me are evil in the name of authority alone. Especially since the "authority" is highly dubious anyway.

Meaning, I believe the Bible is the product of mans' search for God, rather than God's perfect revelation...... and thank God for that! :)



I don't try homosexuality because I am not gay.

Sometimes I think some Christians are afraid that we are all secretly gay and without rules in place heterosexuality would be no more. I am not sure why they think homosexuality is so much more attractive than heterosexuality.

But no fear - heterosexuality is clearly as real as homosexuality is! :)

Christiane said...

JOE, you need to call your friend DAVID and ask him to pray for you again . . . if I'm right, he has helped you in the past . . .

the signs are there that you need some help again

I'm sure a lot of people care about you and will pray also.

Joe Blackmon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's hard to accept that attitudes like Joe's exist. It's scary that some people think this is an OK way to behave.

I have been following this thread and got the email with the post he erased. Scary stuff.

I suppose there are the Westboro folks.

I guess it is a fact of life.

But if we dropped people with that attitude back in time to Jesus' day, I am sure they would be the ones calling for his head. "You heal on the sabbath? - heck you don't even BELIEVE the law???!!"

BUt what disturbs me most is that I looked at Joe's profile and he calls himself a Star Trek fan. Yet his sectarian, borderline-violent attitude stands in direct opposition to the kinder, more hopeful and more united world that Gene Roddenberry envisioned.

Captain Kirk and Captain Picard would be disappointed.

Ralph

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...

Wade,

This is an excellent post!

The darker it gets, the brighter I hope our lights will shine.

Blessings!

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,

Bless your heart. I know you meant well in telling Joe “I’m sure a lot of people care about you and will pray also.”

But don’t you know that’s the last thing Joe wants to hear…its like ‘coals of fire’ on his head. :)

BTW Joe, my son didn’t loose his job. He left Israel and the IMB paid him to go to school before he left their service. Sorry to burst your bubble—but not really.

Christiane said...

Hi REX,

due to some past comments Joe addressed to me as well,
I know he needs help

I do pray for him to receive all needed help, and for him to be protected from all harm in the meantime.

For some reason, I think Joe may be acting out terrible suffering that was inflicted on him by others.
If I am right about this burden,(and I hope I'm wrong),
then he needs to be cared for by all who can pray for him now.

hope you and Belle are well,
Love and prayers,
L's



Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
I’m sorry; I thought you knew that after a six year illness, Belle met Jesus six months ago. It hasn’t been easy. Since I don’t know how, I need to get someone to remove her picture.

Yes, Joe needs help in removing something of a ‘hate attitude’.

Have you clicked on his picture twice and seen the strange person behind bars with the sign underneath?

“Hermeneutics A thoroughly modern power tool used by Fundamentalists to marginalize Disenfranchized people groups and Post-Evangelicals”

Spell-check tells me his “z” should be an “s”.

Thanks for your comment.

Christiane said...

REX RAY,

I'm sorry. I did not know. May Our Lord comfort you in your loss.

Anonymous said...

Homesexuality does not hurt a single one of you people or have any effects on your personal lives. No sin is greater than another sin and yes all of you will be faced upon Him to explain your crude judgement of others. Pretty sad to worry about others and actually believe every verse of a book written years ago by man when times were far different than present day. I'm glad people have God to turn to because yes the world might be a little bit crazier and out of line if people didn't have guilt and threats shoved down their throats by means of religion, but worry about yourselves and your own lives. How many people do you think sit at your church every Sunday with gay children that they love and welcome? Your church and many others are full of gays accepted by our creator. We should live by way of his spirit; not by every single word of the Bible. All of us expressed our thoughts and opinions and hopefully mine does not get deleted. Wade I was born and raised in Enid and even baptised by yourself. You came to our home many times and we worshiped in yours. Twenty years later you are still a great man in my eyes and your views will never make me think any less of you.

Jeanie said...

Anonymous, your reply was more Christian than any of the other so called Christians spouting hate words! I truly believe that Jesus Christ has no problem with gays and lesbians, even if they do not love Him back, for He is nothing but LOVE! There are too many things in the bible that were written NOT in God or Jesus's path and they should never be taken as such. God loves ALL His children!