Christians Side With Mammon. Mammon Sided with Barabbas.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 6:24

1,980 years ago tomorrow, the world put God on trial. When offered a choice, the world surrendered up God to be tortured, crucified, and killed and asked that Pontius Pilate free the criminal Barabbas instead.

There is no compromise between Christ and the world. Young evangelicals, complacent in the United States and unharassed, would do wise to remember this.

Tim Keller, a noted preacher in my denomination (Presbyterian Church in America), made news yesterday when he talked about evangelicals coming to terms with gay marriage. In particular he said that “you can believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal.”

Keller is an accurate indicator of where things are headed within evangelicalism, particularly among younger evangelicals.

Christians in America have gotten soft. We’ve turned the nation into an idol to be worshiped. We’ve become so convinced by the “shining city on a hill” rhetoric we think “It can’t happen here,” regarding persecution of Christians. Joe Carter has a great read on this.

Joe is right. We’ve turned the American ideal of liberty into an idol we worship. The religious liberty in the first amendment is meant to protect the religious as they seek to draw people to them. But the world demands instead that the first amendment be used to draw the religious to the world and silence those who refuse to go along for the ride. In making an idol of our democratic freedom, the irony is that many evangelicals in America are abdicating the use of it.

What Christians in the United States of America, who’ve had it pretty easy for a long time in the USA, have forgotten or never learned is that the world is deeply hostile to the things, and people, of God. Remember, one thousand nine hundred eighty years ago tomorrow, the world chose to spare a criminal and crucify God himself.

Many young evangelicals who are making the decision that gay marriage conflicts with their personal beliefs, but it’ll be okay under the law, are making a compromise to avoid conflict and be liked by the world. “I’m not one of those Christians,” they think and often say.

They want to be liked. They want the world to like them and to think them a part of the world. They view Christians who are seen as too hostile to others as inferior in spreading the Gospel or too judgmental. They fall victim to the sin of pride that their gospel is greater.

They’ll nod approvingly to the lyrics of Casting Crowns “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” saying, “Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did.”

Unfortunately for them, they’ll be hated anyway, even if they don’t realize it.

The Casting Crowns song, which is all over Christian stations this month, contains this lyric: “The world is on their way to You, but they’re tripping over me.”

Christ was very clear on this.

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

The world is not on its way to Christ. The world hates Christ. The world will not allow a compromise between Christians and the world.

Evangelicals have a tough time on the issue of gay rights. If we hold to our convictions, we’re accused of hating gays. If we point out that sex outside of marriage is a sin, including among people of the same sex, we’re accused of saying they’re going to hell.

Christians are called to love their neighbors. Loving their neighbors does not mean turning a blind eye to their sin, or giving tacit approval to sin. Christians should want no one to go to hell. But we’ve arrived at a point where should we even mention this, we’re accused of saying gays are going to hell.

We must live our lives with love toward everyone and be friends to all who are opening to being friends. But we should not delude ourselves. At some point the world will make us choose. And if we choose Christ the world will accuse us of hating, condemning, and judging. The world is deeply hostile to the Christian idea of loving the sinner, but not the sin. The world believes we cannot love the sinner if we do not fully affirm them, which means loving, or at least tolerating or accepting, their sin.

If we truly love our neighbor we must pray for their repentance, not accept their sin. If they tell us God made them that way, we must know that we were all born sinners. God didn’t do it. Our fallen nature did. The struggle with sin in the process of sanctification leads us closer to God. Those who revel in sin do not draw close.

The chorus of the Casting Crowns song includes the line, “Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.” Christ heart breaks for all the fallen. Many Christians though are not believed when they confess their hearts break toward those who do not even recognize their sin.

Christians are accused of judging and casting stones, as the lyrics of that song claim, when all they are doing is not shying away from the fact that God sets standards. He may say to cast no stones, but he concludes with “go and sin no more.” Young evangelicals have bought into the notion that by proclaiming the standards of the Bible they are judging. They seek accommodation and given tacit approval to sin lest they be accused of judging or casting stones.

There is no accommodation on this issue with the world. Young evangelicals, Tim Keller, and the rest are deluded if they think they can seek a compromise with the world.

Mammon chose Barabbas and too many young evangelicals are choosing Mammon.

Connection Concierge

concierge_manual_680x367How do you help people make meaningful connections when they attend your church? One of the most frustrating things in finding a church has been figuring how to connect with other attenders.My wife had a great idea the other day and I wanted to pass it on before it slips into the abyss forgetfulness that is my brain. What if you had a Connection Concierge?

Most people are familiar with the Concierge at an upscale hotel. Their job is to help hotel guests buy tickets, make dinner reservations or suggest day trip destinations; basically to ensure the guest has a positive experience while they are in town. Here is a typical conversation with a Concierge:

“Can you help us find a nice place to eat tonight?”

“Absolutely. What kind of food are you in the mood for?”

“Italian sounds good”

“Excellent, here are three nice Italian restaurants in the area. I highly recommend Guido’s, their lasagna is amazing. Would you  like me to make a reservation?”

“That would be great, thanks!”

“My pleasure”

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Concierge available at your church? A conversation might go like this:

“We’re new to the church and we’re wondering how we could connect?”

“I’d love to help you with that! Can you tell me a little about your family?”

“We are empty nesters and we just moved to town. We’d love to meet other people around our age”

“Excellent. Let me suggest two or three ways we can help. First, we have a Newcomers Gathering next weekend, here’s a flyer about that. We also several couples groups that meet in homes. Let me show you a list on our website. I highly recommend the Smith’s group which meets on Friday nights in the Oaks Subdivision, they are a lot of fun and love welcoming new attenders. Could I assist with an introduction?”

“We probably need to think about it?”

“Absolutely. Please stop back by any weekend and we’d be glad to help you make a connection. Thanks for stopping by!”

Ideally there are be several trained volunteers who man a Concierge desk each weekend as well as be available at the end of events like Newcomers, Membership Class, Meet the Pastor to help people take next steps. The goal is to provide easy onramps for people with a desire to serve and/or connect at the church beyond sign up sheets or simply answering questions at a Welcome Center.

I think there is huge potential, I just wish I had thought of it.