(Today's post is by Adam Cooper)
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?