January Messenger: “Pastor Mark Misc. Thoughts Approaching 2016”

January Messenger: “Pastor Mark Misc. Thoughts Approaching 2016”

“Silent Night”

In my Christ Carols sermon series, we covered “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve.  I didn’t feel Christmas Eve was the appropriate night for the following subject matter, so I’ve decided to mention it here:

In November, ABC’s series Scandal aired an episode in which an abortion took place, to the background music of “Silent Night.”  I find that utterly appalling.  Some have pointed out that this episode was essentially an advertisement for Planned Parenthood, in the wake of their selling-baby-body-parts scandal.  (By the way, that’s appalling as well, but remember that killing babies is far worse than selling their body parts afterwards).

How can a song celebrating the holy night of our dear Savior’s birth become the soundtrack of an abortion?  “Ave Maria” is the soundtrack to the post-abortion scene, in case the viewer didn’t get the point.  Actually, there is a connection between killing babies and the story of Christ’s birth.  It was Herod who sought to kill every boy two years old or younger in the region to ensure the rival king wouldn’t survive.  Matthew saw that as a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Mt.2:18).  Weeping would be the right attitude for the death of a child.

ABC seems to be trying to stick it in our face here, defiling a holy song while trying to sanctify a very unholy activity.  Yes, those aborted babies are now in heavenly peace, but they’re not sleeping.  I think they’re joining “the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God” in crying out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:9-10).  If baby Jesus had been killed, he couldn’t have offered the sacrifice on the cross that also covers the sins of abortionists, who can receive forgiveness through him.

Islamic Militancy, Religion

Following the San Bernardino shooting, while information was still coming out, the Washington Post had an article entitled, “Attackers slay 14 in Calif. in deadliest mass shooting since Sandy Hook.”  Hmm, why compare this shooting spree to a school shooting?  Could this be an attempt to shift the subject matter away from Islamic militancy?  Well, Sandy Hook shooting also happened in December, the article pointed out.  Quite a significant parallel, don’t you think?  Both shootings happened in December.  I guess that’s a more significant parallel than anything with the Paris shooting, which isn’t mentioned at all, but of course, the Planned Parenthood shooting is mentioned.  I realize that responsible journalists must avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions, and must let evidence unfold over time.  Yet it’s very interesting to see someone attempt to skew the foreground by holding it up against different backgrounds, none of which proved to be relevant in the end.

I do believe that accepting large numbers of Syrian refugees is likely to increase terrorist attacks on our soil.  An alarming percentage of refugees who were surveyed support ISIS.  However, I view the immigration of even Jihadist Muslims as a great evangelistic opportunity, with home court advantage.  On their turf, missionaries are beheaded.  Here, the opportunities to show love, take risks, and demonstrate kindness can bear fruit in evangelism.  The person who doesn’t believe Jihadist Muslims can be converted doesn’t believe in the transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ, which converted Saul of Tarsus the professional persecutor.  Even if we have an increase in “Allahu Akbar’s,” it’s worth the risk.

1 Peter 3:15b-17 is helpful here: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (NIV).  If we believe the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the real God, we should be confident enough.  And I believe most of the refugees have no ill intentions.

Speaking of the one true God, Wheaton professor Larycia Hawkins is in trouble with her university for wearing Muslim garb and declaring we worship the same God as Muslims.  This raises the question: Do we?  Scripture approaches such a question in two ways.  First, Paul said to the Athenians, “I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:22b-23).  Here Paul is positing continuity between “the unknown god” of the Athenians, and the true God, but he does say that they worship that god “in ignorance.”

Second, far more Scriptures refer to “false gods” (e.g. Deut.32:17, Ps.4:2, 40:4, 106:37, Jer.16:19, Amos 2:4), that are “not gods at all.”  So there is a sense that every idol we worship has become a substitute for our longing for the true God, whether we know him or not.  Yet that substitute is not really “god.”  We were all created by the same God, and we long for what only he can give us, but we do not all worship the same God.  Islam is like Christianity in being monotheistic, yet it rejects the Trinity, so I have a hard time saying that we worship the “same God.”  Nonetheless, I conceded that in missionary or evangelistic situations, it is easier to politely posit continuity between the false deity and the real God and to get them to understand him rightly, especially when we are using common terms such as “Creator.”  This does become a semantic issue at some level, but I think Wheaton is right in being concerned that one of their staff members seems so eager to identify with Islam, a false religion.

-Pastor Mark