OPPOSE OR PROPOSE?

OPPOSE OR PROPOSE?

This morning, (04.26.16) I heard Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, make a statement that impacted me in a powerful way. While fielding the questions being asked, he said something to this effect, “For too long, the Republican party has been known only for its conservative views. We are known more for what we are against than what we are for. It’s time for that to change. Rather than being known for what we oppose, we need to be known for what we propose.” He went on to suggest that we need to start talking about positive alternatives to negative issues. He mentioned, “Rather than spewing rhetoric about how much we may hate Obamacare, we should either offer a viable solution, or work with the Democrats to fix the problems that do exist with the healthcare system.” (My paraphrase) In other words, propose instead of oppose.

I’m concerned that the worldview of Christianity is similar. I’m quite certain that we have shouted our opposition over abortion, LGBT rights, guns, drugs, illegal aliens etc., loudly and frequently enough that society knows we are adamantly against any issue that conflicts with our faith. Those who do not follow Christ are probably NOT going to change their viewpoints simply because WE are against something. Instead of “spewing rhetoric” about what we think is wrong with society, why don’t we propose a positive alternative? “Alternative” implies there are options to be chosen. Jesus came to provide eternal life, but He does not REQUIRE anyone to choose Him. Individuals are just as free to NOT choose Christ. AND, HE STILL LOVES THEM! Who then, am I to judge someone who makes a choice to reject Christ?

To be influential, we must change our tone. For instance, instead of telling someone they should stop lying, why couldn’t we talk about the positive influence that speaking the truth has produced in our own life. (Truth brings freedom while dishonesty produces fear) Instead of raising our voices, pointing our fingers, and posting rants from behind the safety of a computer screen, why don’t we offer a soft answer that will turn away wrath and allows for face-to-face conversation? Instead of the famous, “Get right or get left” nonsense, why not simply suggest, “Jesus loves us all and provides a wonderful opportunity to live life fully—right now and for all eternity. Whether you choose to believe or not will not change my love for you!”

I only have one life to live; one opportunity to represent Christ. I really don’t have time to fix the world. I can’t boycott enough businesses to get the message across. I don’t want to have people filing by my coffin one day saying, “He was against this, that, and everything in between!” I want people to say, “He was a man who loved God and loved me unconditionally. He spoke softly, loved deeply, and impacted his circle of influence by the faithful life that he lived on behalf of His God.”

And maybe, just maybe, someone will accept Christ because they knew what I was FOR rather than what I was AGAINST.

Death has landed yet another blow.

The past 3 years have been cruel. As crazy as it might seem, it started with a dog. Our Schnauzer, Baxter, woke one morning and was gone by that afternoon. Death had taken him.

Then death moved on to my father, mother, aunts and uncles, a brother-in-law, several ministry colleagues, precious church members, and special friends. As recent as last night, I received word of a minister friend who passed away suddenly while preaching a Good Friday message.

Death has the power to effect the emotions of a man. It can usher in a season of sadness, a sense of loss and loneliness; it can sometimes trigger hopelessness in an otherwise positive individual.

Death must be understood theologically before it can be understood practically. To properly dispense with the temporary effects of death, we must understand at least two things:

Death is a doorway that God has built to usher mankind into eternity.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55 ESV)

Resurrection always trumps death!

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:12-26 ESV)

It’s comforting to know that death has no power to prevent resurrection! So, today and everyday, I can be confident that death is already swallowed up in victory! I won’t always cry! I won’t always grieve! Because Christ has already assured our victory over death, hell, and the grave! And for that, I will rejoice!