Do we submit to the Scriptures or do we force the Scriptures to submit to us? Do the Scriptures mold our experience, or do we force our experience on our understanding of the Scriptures? If our experience dictates our understanding of the Bible then we create the Bible in our own image. If we submit our experience, including our understanding, to the Bible then we are recreated in the image of God by the Word of God.
Perhaps never before has the issue of identity, of who we are, been as important as it is now. Our society has decided to kill mankind, to strip it of permanence, and to attack vehemently those who seek to maintain a common sense and common grace view of men and women, male and female. In the midst of this, unless Christians are firm in their identity in Jesus Christ, I question whether they will have the courage and moral strength to stand against the sewer gates that have been opened. I also question whether they will have the grace to peacefully witness in the onslaught of vitriol directed against those who say “no” to insanity and “yes” to the innate truth that God has placed in mankind.
The issue of identity in Christ is more than an individual question, it is a question for the church – and here is where much of Protestantism falls flat – for many Protestants view themselves primarily as individuals –from baptism to the Lord’s Table to accountability in daily life and in doctrine – they are individuals first, and if they are also members of a spiritual community, and I mean “if” strongly, being members of a community is voluntary and often does not significantly affect their view of life and of the world. This thinking has invaded the traditional sacramental churches which once emphasized community, and while it has invaded Roman Catholicism it remains the most pronounced in Protestantism.
If a collective witness is unimportant, if Christians do not have a vision of the Temple of God on the earth today, if they do not see themselves joined to one another as that Temple, then they are but individual stones scattered about the earth and they will see little need to stand against the desecration of the image of God – and for certain they will have little inclination to suffer for Christ and little inclination to help those who are suffering. Our individualism, our appeal to individualism, our catering to individualism and our offering of a boutique religious experience centered on the “self” has left us without holy reference points and close to defenseless –and we continue to arrange furniture as the Titanic sinks. We lack the courage necessary for obedience, and I cannot help but see that obedience will have to manifest itself in disobedience to the insanity surrounding us. But who is likely to go against the grain knowing that economic and social retribution awaits? Very few. Having cultivated a church of individualistic individuals, we have become a house of cards.
A Temple made of living stones (Ephesians 2:19 – 22; 1 Peter 2:1 – 12) – or a house of cards? Which will it be? Is it too late? What will you do? (Haggai 1:1 – 11).