I’ve got to change the channel on my alarm clock/radio. I’ve had two early starts this week and used the alarm to get up. I hate the ‘Red-Alert!’ buzzer on my alarm clock; waking up to that always puts me in a bad mood, so I set it to radio. I must have been listening to a Leaf Game recently because the station was set on AM 640 and worse than an angry buzzer, I snoozed through thirty-minutes of an angry call-in show. Great! Now in addition to being in a bad mood, I’m opinionated, and argumentative.
The topic this morning was trial of Col. Williams who is being tried for multiple break-ins, rape, and worst of all, the murder of two women. Today’s discussion represented a new development in the public reaction to this terrible story. On the radio, John Oakley asked “Why didn’t the military weed this guy out sooner? How could he have broken into more than 80 homes, stalked and raped multiple women and finally murder two before being caught?” Buried in this question is an assumption: there are good people and there are bad people. How did this bad person pass himself off as a good person for so long? Once you accept as fact that there are two kinds of people in the world, you are already off the rails. A Biblical worldview doesn’t jive with this assessment. The Bible says that there is no such thing as ‘good people.’ “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3: 23) Believers come to Jesus as sinful people and through faith in Jesus, they are forgiven. Believers are baptized and made new. They become regenerated people through the power of the Holy Spirit in light of the cross. They are not ‘good people’ who are somehow better than the ‘bad people’ out there who haven’t taken up Jesus on His special offer. We’re all bad people. How can I possibly be so arrogant as to consider another person as less than myself when we are all the same thing: bent people who’s very nature is at war with God? The Gospel doesn’t change bad people into good people. The Gospel makes dead people live.
At the top of the Bible Gateway website this morning a banner ad breathlessly shouts “In a culture where people are loudly proclaiming that they are ‘Good Without God.’ It’s time to stand up and say, ‘I am a Christian.’” If you follow the link you go to Franklin Graham’s website where he says, “At a time when God’s truth is being attacked on all sides, now more than ever, Christians need to take a stand and declare their faith in Jesus Christ.” You are invited to sign a petition, which I am sure will coincidentally add your name to a mailing list. Again, this statement has tons of embedded assumptions.
- We are put on this earth as the defenders of God’s honour.
- God’s truth needs to be defended or it will fail.
- The clearest communication of God’s truth would be our resolute defence of it.
The ad refers to a campaign in Europe and North America that was supported by the Secular Humanist groups which says, “You Can Be Good Without God.” There’s also a book out (why does there always seem to be a book) entitled, Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, written by Greg Epstein.
Embedded in Graham’s appeal for support is an assumption that there are two kinds of people: good and bad. The good people don’t believe this Humanist nonsense and need to stand up and fight for what’s right. Otherwise, the bad people will win! What if on the other hand, the best defence of God’s honour would be to humbly live a life of service that is compatible with this profession of faith? Instead of telling people we are a Christian, how about we live like one!
A defensive posture regarding our faith in Jesus is a negative position, and one unbecoming of a believer in Jesus Christ. I don’t think a single person on earth is going to be convinced of God’s love, by an overwhelmingly supported petition. Clever billboards, laser light shows, well written tracks, surgically precise propositions, none of it will ever make the grace of God real to anyone. God’s supremacy, and His omnipotence are seen in our world in weakness and not through physical strength, political strength, or any other kind of strength.
The tragedy of the story about Col. Williams is not how long he managed to live a double life. The tragedy is that we see a little bit of ourselves in him and are disgusted by it. In his case, deviant sexuality like all forms of sin provides a diminishing return: You get less and less pleasure for your behaviour. You are led further and further down the wicked path you are on. Most of us don’t end up on the news after killing someone but we all run the risk of destroying our relationships, our marriages, our jobs, our very souls. I don’t look at Col. Williams as a different kind of person than me. I look at him and think, if it wasn’t for the grace of God that would be me! The grace of Jesus Christ has delivered me from death and a life of total wickedness. Whether I sign petitions, or politically advance the cause of Christ, I know I can bring God great honour by following the example of the demon possessed man in Mark 5. After being tormented by a demon for years Jesus frees him from this influence that had ruined his life thus far. When the man wanted to follow Jesus He told him, “go back to your hometown and tell everyone what God has done for you.”