There is absolute truth. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is the only hope of salvation and the only way to Heaven. I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ literally died on the cross for the sins of the world and literally rose again on the third day. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ is literally coming again to this world where He will finally defeat Satan & those he leads. I believe there is a literal Heaven where those who have placed their hope in Christ will spend eternity. I believe there is a literal Hell where all who reject Christ will spend eternity. I believe God created the heavens and the earth. I believe the God who created the heavens and the earth also created the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman as the universal building block of human society. I believe we all stand as sinners before a Holy God and the only solution for our sin was the Cross where Jesus died. I believe there is hope for any person on the face of the earth who will repent of their sin and place their faith in Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation. Here I stand. I will hold these (and other) convictions until my last breath. Anyone who knows me or who has listened to many of my messages will not be surprised. These convictions guide how I live out my life every single day.
My convictions have not changed, but the culture & environment I minister in is transforming rapidly. There is a growing cultural hostility toward people who hold these and similar views. Recent events in our nation and even my own state have made it clear that the government and the courts increasingly do not affirm such convictions. In fact, it seems that some in the government and the courts are actually adversarial to those of us who hold Biblical convictions. The news media and popular culture have long despised Biblical convictions. Many people are understandably angry and respond in ways that aren’t helpful. Others attempt to give a reasoned, winsome defense of the “faith once delivered to the saints” in the public arena to varying degrees of effectiveness. Virtually all of those reasoned, winsome voices for truth get disparaged, shouted down, marginalized, and labeled as hateful, bigoted, or worse.
Today as I sit at my desk reflecting on how the landscape of culture has changed even in my beloved state of Alabama, I am also overwhelmed to think of the people. Outside my office window I can hear the vehicles roaring down I-459. The majority of those in those vehicles do not know Christ. In any direction we look there is ample evidence that the moral, cultural revolution that has taken place over the last few decades in our country has brought incalculable harm. There are more broken homes and more no homes. There is more poverty, more anger, more abuse, more addiction, more depression, more confusion, and more pain than ever before. Everywhere we look there is more and more brokenness of every kind. Go to the wealthiest zip codes and the poorest zip codes. The story is the same: more brokenness of every kind. Yet, America seems intent on continuing down the same path at a rapidly accelerating pace. I do not know how all of this will play out, but I am absolutely certain of one prediction. Continuing down the path that has brought us great brokenness will result in even greater brokenness. My heart aches for people. They need hope. True hope is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ.
“But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way…” (Ephesians 4:15, HCSB)
That verse challenges me more today than ever before. If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, then I am to speak Biblical truth and be a man of staunch conviction. If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, I am to love even my enemies and love my neighbor as myself. If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, then I will have a spine of steel conviction and a heart overflowing with love for people no matter their convictions, religion, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, attitudes, or actions. If I am a faithful Christian and pastor, I will speak the truth, but speak in a way that communicates love – both God’s love and my own.
That great balance of truth and love requires more prayer and thought today than ever before. It’s a daunting task. Thankfully, we have a great example to emulate from a well known preacher. This preacher has the perfect blend of truth and love. This preacher deals with “hot button” issues like relationships, sex, temptation, marriage & family, money, sin, Heaven, and Hell. He pulls no punches. Yet, this preacher’s love for people has prompted many to call him “a friend of sinners.” He has brought hope and new life to people everyone else gave up on. Perhaps you’ve heard of him: the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord, in today’s challenging cultural environment, help me live, preach, and love more like Him.