Sitting on the Fence

By now, you realize that Pastor Francis Chan is “big on commitment.” He is not one to “sit on the fence”

Let’s go back to the starting words of Chapter 7: “By now you probably realized that you have a distinct choice to make; just let life happen, which is tantamount to serving God your leftovers, or actively run toward Christ.”

These are not the words of a “fence sitter”.

As we leave Chapter 7, let’s review some of the standards he expects Christians to meet:

1.Read your Bible as much as you can, really read it and study it. Know it.

2.Don’t be afraid to take a position for Christ. Pick Him over your friends if need be. Don’t worry about your popularity.   Actively try to live a life for Christ. That’s your only real concern.

3.Don’t be afraid to give of your money and time for God, especially to people who have less than you have. Remember, if you care for the less fortunate, you are doing that for Christ.

4.Live every day as if we are preparing for your final day. Learn to trust God for what you need in life.

5.Surrender to God and develop your faith in Him. Don’t be afraid to do something uncomfortable as you do something good. Remember, as Christians, we try to play it safe too much.

6.Use your talents to glorify God. Don’t be afraid to use your gifts if you are using them to further His kingdom here on earth.

A lot of what Pastor Chan is calling for is oppositional to our culture.   What are America’s core values? Have you ever explored those and see how they fit the Christian worldview?

Let’s pin our culture down to 6 core values and let’s examine them.

  1. Liberty is the value that proclaims that people should be free to think, speak, and act as they choose as long as they do not offend the freedom and rights of others. [I don’t know; many times Jesus says put others first at your own expense. Philippians 2: 7 says of Jesus “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” I wonder if Americans would have a hard time making themselves nothing.
  2. Self-government is the value that declares that citizens have a say in how their government is run. Citizens are the primary source of the government’s authority; they participate actively in the political process, and the government exists to promote their well-being. Jesus says in Mark 12:17 “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” The context of this Scripture is that the Pharisees want to catch Jesus in some insurrectionist statement and He is doing His best to dodge their trap. However, Jesus is not afraid throughout the New Testament to stand for what is right; not what is “in line” with the government. Of course the Roman government of Jesus’ day is not a benevolent government that promotes peoples’ well-being.
  3. Equality is the value that holds that all people must be treated fairly and with dignity and be able to embrace opportunities for education, economic success, political involvement, and a fulfilling life. This is an ideal that I believe Jesus would like but it is an “ideal”. Our culture says we hold this up as a core value but in reality, we have not really achieved equality in our culture.
  4. Individualism is the value that is committed to independence, self-sufficiency, private initiative, and personal economic growth. When you view Chapter 7 and the many instances where Jesus says we need to care for others with our money and time, the self-centeredness of this value may fly in the face of a lot of those teachings, especially if Americans get materialistic.
  5. Diversity is the value that teaches us to respect and embrace the fact that all people are unique and important no matter what their race, culture, heritage, belief system, or socio-economic status. Again, I feel Jesus would approve of our efforts to appreciate diversity in our culture. As a human walking this earth, he reached out to a wide variety of people unlike Himself; indeed many of those people were outcasts from his own culture. His actions speak loudly about acceptance of diverse peoples.
  6. Unity: The principle that Americans are one people and form an indivisible union.   Jesus shows belief in unity but his unity is for believers. Philippians 2:2 “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” 1 Peter 3:8 “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit.” It seems to me that Jesus is accepting of other’s viewpoints but He is not willing to concede that all viewpoints are the best way to live: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” [Matthew 7:13]

Pastor Chan realizes the life of the Christian will be challenging. The Christian way may not be the American way 100% of the time. That’s ok. We all have to make choices.

Of the choice our religion forces on us he says “you have a distinct choice to make; just let life happen, which is tantamount to serving God your leftovers, or actively run toward Christ.”

I think we should choose to “run toward Christ.”

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