Monday, September 14, 2015

Exodus: A Great Salvation -- The Supreme Court, Exodus, and the Gospel

Note: This was written as a devotional for my congregation on June 26, the day the results of Obergefell v. Hodges were announced. So, it is a little behind; yet it still applies today.

So, anyone who has been on Facebook or kept an eye on the news for the past few hours probably knows by now that the Supreme Court ruled that States are required to license a marriage between two people of the same sex. And, of course, since then the Internet has exploded with articles and opinion pieces on this topic, which is not really surprising. So far, Russell Moore has a very good response "Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage." And, the Exodus story is relevant to the situation the Church is entering.

We do not need to cave or panic. Yes, this will likely mean more persecution for Christians in America as the ramifications of this decision play themselves out. But, let's sit back and take a historical perspective. Rarely has the true, invisible Church existed in an environment where the culture around them was not hostile to their beliefs (and Jesus warned us of this), and God has continued to sustain, love, and care for His Church in whatever environment they live. The Hebrew people had to learn this in Ex. 1-2, and the Church has learned it ever since. Persecution has never stopped God's people or the spread of the gospel. In fact, it has only served to fuel the spread. We have seen this in Ex. 1, the book of Acts, the Roman persecutions of the early Church, the Reformation, and even today in places like Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. And, this is because the life of the Church is not in our selves, our strength, or anything else from us at all. The life of the Church is the resurrection life of Christ, against which even the gates of hell cannot prevail. As Russell Moore said in the above article, "The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb." Nothing can stop the Church, and Christ will continue to sustain and protect His Bride until He returns again to take her home.

And, speaking of home, that is another aspect of the Exodus story and our lives as the Church that we need to remember. Yes, this latest decision will likely mean greater persecution for us as a Church and as individuals, but that should remind us that the gospel shows us that this world is not our home. He. 11:26 tells us that Moses "considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward." Even Moses knew that the promises of God and the coming Redeemer were greater than all the treasures of Egypt. Why? Because he knew that this world is not his home. The "reward" towards which he was looking is told to us by the author of Hebrews in v. 16: "a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." Moses and all of God's people have "a better country, that is, a heavenly one" coming--the new heavens and the new earth. Jesus, through His work of redemption, has secured for us a home that far surpasses this world in every category, and while we may suffer here for Christ because we stand with Him against our culture, as the gospel tells us, "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Yes, we may suffer in the future as the implications from today play themselves out, but that suffering should remind us that this world is not our home. We are strangers and foreigners here, exiles as Peter puts it, but that is only for a short time. America is not really our country but simply a place to sojourn for a while on this earth. We have "a better country, that is, a heavenly one" coming. Christ secured it; the gospel displays it.

Now, I know this might worry you, for even though we know that God will not let His Church die and that we have a better country coming, we still have to see our children grow up in a world hostile to the things we teach them. Yet, we must also remember here that to God our children are holy, and He loves them more than we do. Perhaps life will be hard for them--harder than it was for us--but instead of focusing on that hardship that will come, let's display before them confidence in God's sovereignty, and as we do, perhaps it will help us to live more free from worry. Let's show them that we know God has this country in His hands and the He turns the heart of the "king" however He chooses. Let's show them that He loves and cares for all His people, so much so that He knows how many hairs are on our heads and when one falls He knows (a reality for me that becomes more and more vivid with each passing year). Let's show them that Christ loves His Bride and sacrifices everything for her by living marriages that are sacrificial and serving before them. Or, if you are single, our children can still see quite clearly in your life that Jesus is more important and valuable than any relationship in this world, so please, show them that. Let's show them that we are looking forward to a better country and therefore God is not ashamed to be our God, even if our culture is ashamed to have us in it. Let's show them that the gospel is the true hope of every individual in this country and that they will never be satisfied until they drink of Christ, therefore we still need to be lights and salt for Him so that when the sexual revolution has left our culture bankrupt, the gospel is right there waiting for them. And, let's look forward explicitly to the new heavens and new earth, showing them that we long for that world which is our true and eternal home and that the sufferings of Christ are nothing in comparison. Perhaps as we display that in our homes and in our worship at church and fervently pray for the next generation of Christians, the stark contrast between a bankrupt culture and a full, life-giving gospel will sink down into their hearts, so much so that they will be the next generation that carries the spreading of God's kingdom forward, for His glory and our good.

By His Grace,

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