COEXIST?

(Today's post is by Adam Cooper)

Judges 7:1-23

I know I am probably about to open up a nerve in some people but I am wanting some open discussion to see if I am thinking about this wrongly. On our recent drive to Hilton Head we got behind a car bearing one of the stickers that have become very popular. As a matter of fact, the local blogger that tends to claim no religious affiliation and talks like a sailor actually has the emblem proudly displayed on her blog site. Anyway, I digress. The sticker I am referring to says “COEXIST.”

  • C is a crescent and star standing for Islam,
  • O is a peace symbol,
  • E stands for the equality of the sexes,
  • X is actually the star of David standing for Judaism,
  • I is topped with the Pentagram and circle standing for wicca or paganism,
  • S is created from the yin/yang symbol for taoism or confuscianism,
  • T is the Christian cross.

So it would be safe to say that the bearer of this sticker believes that each of these beliefs, religions, cults, heresies, etc. are all EQUAL.

Let's look at this from the aspect of the book of Judges. The Israelites were told to remove from the promised land all of its inhabitants. They did not do this, choosing instead to attempt to coexist for the most part with these people of pagan religions and what happened: parts of these pagan religions infiltrated into their Judaism and they began worshiping their gods and their Judaism. The Judaism that their forefathers had known became watered down and almost non-existent. In the eyes of God they sinned and did evil. Throughout Judges we see this same pattern: sin, repent, turn to God, salvation. In today's reading we see Gideon trusting in the Lord, after the challenging questioning we saw in Chapter 6, and we see God orchestrating a tremendous victory using only a fraction of the men he had available. God used such a small force against such a large army in order to build faith and trust in Him. With the odds stacked against him, Gideon's trust in God brought Israel back into favor with Him.

So what is the take away from today's reading and what does that have to do with the sticker that I mentioned at the beginning of this post?

An object lesson from my past: I ran from God from the age of eighteen until the age of forty. It took a bankruptcy, foreclosure, losing two cars, and an extremely trying time with my family to drive me to the lowest point of my life to where the Lord moved within me and I did as the Israelites did and cried out to Him. He led us to a church that showed us love and compassion and began to teach me what I had been missing for so long. It was then that He called me into His service and it has been an amazing journey in His grace and glory since. As Marc so eloquently stated the other day: our circumstances are not like the ancient Jews. We do have the comfort of knowing that we are saved by grace through faith and that we cannot lose that salvation. However, I also do not think we need to be flippant with that fact. When we mess up we do not need to simply say, “oh well I am saved so no biggie!” We need that moment of conviction in order to remind us what God has done for us, what He has sacrificed for us. This conviction of the Holy Spirit guides us to not fall away and thus make our walk that much harder. I know that God is not some cosmic puppet master sitting around dangling our human marionette strings. I firmly believe that He does not punish us like He did the ancient Jews, but instead allows us to be overwhelmed by the results of our own bad decisions. And this is where the sticker comes into play.

Culture has chosen to believe that we all need to get along. Rodney King said it well, “can't we all just get along?” Islam, Judaism, wiccan, taoist, confuscianist, and Christian: can we all just get along? I am fond of saying, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I can get along with these others but I cannot accept their beliefs. I believe that the tolerance everyone in culture has espoused has caused our Christianity to become watered down. We (as the church in general) are losing the strength and tenacity that we need to survive, we are losing our identity and I am afraid that God is simply going to allow us to suffer the destruction of our own bad decisions.

Are we, like the Isrealites, allowing other influences to coexist in our inner circles?

Do you trust in God the way Gideon did and therefore act?

Are there any areas where you may be compromising your belief system or being tolerant of sin in your own life?

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • Steven Gregory

    Guys I sure appreciate every ones input on this, wow some great thoughts. I have been watching all day and really like Keith’s thoughts. It really would be interesting to hear the park bench conversation. Again, thanks guys

  • Andy Mitchell

    I don’t necessarily think that “coexist” has to mean tolerant and accepting. I think we need to realize the Sovereignty of God allows others to fall into this sinful belief or, better said, UNBELIEF that Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way. We have no choice but to coexist with non-believers. The question is — how do you coexist? Are you aggressive, trying to win the argument (I’ve been that) or are you humble, trying to win the man? The gospel tells us that we don’t deserve the GIFT of Faith that we have. We can’t boast in ourself for our salvation. Salvation is of the Lord. The folks that we are discussing on the bumper sticker need the gospel. They need grace. Since we’ve been given so much I think, through the Spirit, we can show them a tiny glimpse of what this looks like. You don’t back down or bite your tongue. You preach the Good News of God’s grace in Jesus to these people. That is coexisting with them to me.

    • Calesta Mueller

      Andy pretty much said everything I was going to…

    • Jeff Morton

      Andy, as I read that I couldn’t help but think “now here’s why my kid is in private school. The only reason it is worth it is knowing the influences he gets lead back to Christ.” look foward to getting to know you and Becky more, hope Nolan and Rep repeat this process

      • Andy Mitchell

        Yes sir Jeff. It is such a blessing for our family to have that opportunity too. Becky is gifted at giving grace to kids. Lord willing, Nolan and Rep will be friends and classmates for a while. I’m looking forward to our next trip to “The Swamp”.

  • red18

    COEXIST=Tolerance. Tolerance is a PC word for acceptance. The only problem I have with the PC version is that the tolerance they ask for does not include the T(or cross). And the Koran does not teach tolerance. It teaches death and violence against all who are not Muslim. Yes we need more Jesus and the one true God followers but how do you explain that to someone who is taught death and destruction at the core of their belief system? Not to mention that I will not be tolerant of any belief that has Satan/Witchcraft at it’s core which would include some of the others. I guess I’m just not tolerant enough which means I cannot COEXIST.

  • Brad Bacon

    Wow, this is a good one…and I’m just soaking up the responses. Only one thing I might add: “COEXIST” movement is strikingly Humanistic. It is truly about coexisting in THIS world. Human bodies, getting along, etc. The real question is, how can we change this world in a way that will allow us to COEXIST in eternity? Only through LOVE – which is GOD – as exemplified, personified, and perfected through CHRIST. That’s all folks.

  • Keith Senator

    Chinese fortune cookie, “Never use an ax to remove a fly from a friend’s forehead.”
    Is this a lie? Would you venture to say that there is no wisdom in this statement? The truth is the truth. But what we are talking about is a bit deeper than this.

    The real question to me is this, “What would Jesus do?” If he were to be sitting on a park bench and a person from another religion was sitting next to him, how would the conversation go? Herein lies the tone for the response to the bumper sticker. Would Jesus walk down the path with compassion and leave the person without any effort to persuade him to consider another worldview? Or maybe he would talk with the man and challenge him to accept or reject his perspective? Or maybe he would get up in the man’s face, turn over the park bench in response to such a position and demand his allegiance.

    In my opinion, I think God can use each of us in a very powerful way. We do not have to worry about some archeologist digging up something that will unravel Christianity. We have divine revelation that has never been refuted as accurate. And we know from the fruit of our own lives that what we know is true. So how do we live? This is where I want to focus.

    I live one day at a time, pray for wisdom and discernment, look for opportunity to share my story of a changed life, and when I feel led, ask about their story. So many times we are just plain lazy. It is easier to label something as toxic than to walk a mile with that person. In Europe, I studied under an anthropologist. It was his aim to find the redemptive analogy of a religion (where Christ has been replaced), and use this information and the leading of the Holy Spirit while walking with the other person. He has a church now converting muslims in Iraq. But if he came in with guns blazing, well…he would most likely not be with us any more.

    “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Teresa

    • You know I think you’re brilliant, Keith. But the simplicity of “What Would Jesus Do?” is spot on for today’s discussion.

  • Adam Cooper

    I want to thank everyone for their comments to today’s post. When I felt the Spirit tugging at me to put this down I was nervous of the discussion that would follow (showing a lack of trust on my part). I strongly believe that the church as as whole has digressed to lukewarmness and through avenues like this blog and iron sharpening iron will we transcend and succeed in God’s mission for us. Thank you Trey for your willingness to supervise this chaos.

  • James Rooks

    Adam, this was a great read. Looks the pot has been stirred just a little bit. There is a definitely a delicate balance between being in the world and not becoming like the world. Can we and should we co-exist? Certainly, there’s nothing in our christian doctrine that says otherwise. We are called to love and to share the good news in and throughout the whole world, but to do so with love and compassion (caring for the widows and orphans). The founding fathers were not afraid of religious freedom and neither should we. I believe that the Gospel on its own is powerful enough to stand the test of time (which it has) and to continue to change lives in every nation, tongue, and people group (which it has).

    One of the problems with the co-exist ‘movement’ is that it seems to not take into account that the C and the I would be perfectly content with the destruction of the T. Also at the core of the tolerance angle is an intolerance for anyone that holds a conservative view point. Don’t believe me? Try going on social media and posting a firm opinion on one of the hot social topics of the day and see what happens. So the challenge is to hold to what we know to be true, continue to love others, and to do our absolute best to live at peace while not being watered down by the world.

    • good point James..there will always be a constant tension..even amongst peaceful movements..the tension is good..without the tension propels us..pushes us..pulls us..makes us think..makes us search..

      props to you, tension..I will embrace thee

  • (A buddy of mine posted on my fb page about this blog entry today. I don’t think he meant any harm, but the way he worded the comment, well it didn’t quite sit right with me. Now, I don’t like to argue for argument’s sake. But I also don’t want to be misrepresented, or possibly see the heart of Christ misrepresented. So, I wanted to repost my reply here..I hope it creates conversation as well.)

    Via, Veritas, Vita = The Way, The Truth, The Life.

    If there ever was a time I want Jesus to be wrong..it’s in John 14:6 when Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NLT)

    While what you say might be true, and blunt, FB Commenter, it breaks my heart.

    And I have been chasing this thought recently: why is it easier for me to point to another religion, hate it, fear it, and stay as far away from it as possible..rather than run to it with the Truth and share the love of Christ with those who have been deceived?

    I truly believe the Gospel. And if I do, then I’ve gotta remember The Lord of the Angel Armies goes before me, stands beside me, and has my back. And there is no power that can separate me from the love of Christ.

    I want to walk into the battle with confidence and at least present the Truth.

    Maybe the end result is that some will ‘coexist in hell’ but it won’t be because I ignored them, ran from them, or were afraid of them.

    Quite a challenge today.

    Romans 2 is a great section of Scripture to read on light of this today..here’s a snippet:

    Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, TOLERANT, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2:4 NLT)

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a belief that all religions are correct. It’s a belief that everyone had the right to practice whatever they want in peace. It’s the idea that I, as a Christian, can be friends with and peacefully live side-by-side with a Jew or a Muslim. It’s not the idea that I agree with their religions. I am still strong in my own. But I refuse to shun or avoid people who don’t share my beliefs. As Christians, we too are following a faith that is wildly unpopular with a lot of people. What would it be like if we were persecuted for our beliefs? Oh wait…. We already have been. So we, of all people, should know what it’s like to desire religious freedom and acceptance. You don’t have to agree with my religion, but let me practice it in peace. THAT’S what this movement is all about.

  • Jeff Morton

    I literally wait all night to see what’s gonna be next from this group! I personally struggle with anger and anxiety (proof that no matter what Sunday school answer I give I don’t trust God as I should!)
    I’m afraid that we are in Gideon’s shoes, we have an Americanized gospel that is so watered down and focused on the American dream that the only way were going to escape our coexistence is to look at what it means to follow Jesus.
    It’s a fine line too. Paul, became all things to all men that he might save some. So I am certain we are not to persecute these other people, I am also certain that we are not able to stay the course without abiding in God’s word, Spirit, and body of believers. I am so weak in my understanding of God’s word, misunderstanding of his Spirit, and struggling to know my role in his body. I am however thankful for this opportunity to sharpen my self against you guys GREAT points today!

    • Jeff..that’s IT! I’ve been trying to put my finger on it. The answer to tolerance, faith, personal growth, changing the world, etc. is more Jesus. I know that sounds trite and simple. But isn’t it true? The more I get to know Jesus, the more I see in me that He is changing. The more I experience the LOVE of Jesus, the more I want to give that away to others. It all points back to Jesus, for me. And that’s where I land today.

      Lord, give me more Jesus. Let me be COMPLETELY surrendered. Owned by You. An instrument of your bidding today.

  • Lem Hill

    I like this post, Adam. It really got me thinking of my own life and not wanting to be luke warm in my faith. Sometimes our passion for Christ is suppressed because of not wanting to offend anyone, and to be “politically correct”. I challenge all of us today to be PASSIONATE for Christ in all we do. Unashamed of our beliefs, and holding onto what we know as TRUTH.

  • Steven Gregory

    Thanks Adam for writing this blog. I like writing a response. It forces me to spend some time in thought but today with this questionI think I need to just stop, look and listen.

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