Jimmy Buehler: Welcome to the members’ portion of our podcast. We are talking about the issue of ‘”You’re a good Christian if…” or “You’re a bad Christian if…”
Before we get there, I just want to say a quick thank you to our members. We can’t do what we do, we can’t have all sorts of fun, without your love and support. Thank you for supporting this ministry and this podcast. I say this every time I introduce the members’ podcasts but if you could only see the emails, the texts, and the different messages we receive from the people that are being profoundly helped by the ministry of this podcast, you would be so deeply encouraged. So thank you for supporting us. You are 100% the reason why we are able to do this. Thank you for your support.
Jon, I think you are going to lead us in here with some sort of fun, punchy intro line. Why don’t you take it away?
Jon Moffitt: As all of you guys have been having ongoing conversations with church members and friends, the conversations at times get very heated and pointed. By nature, my personality loves a good debate. I don’t like to necessarily argue with people because that can get offensive, but I don’t mind debating somebody about their position – and I will definitely push back and even take an opposing position not because I believe in it, but I want to hear the logic behind why it is that you hold this position. This has happened quite often lately.
One of the issues I’m beginning to see, and it’s coming to light when it comes to something like racism or abortion, is we are trying to fix the past, but the past is in the past and it cannot be fixed. In other words, we’re trying to right a wrong and we are going past our generations into the next generation to drum up the sins of the previous generation. We’re putting those on to the shoulders of our generation. What I’m being told is, and I don’t disagree with some of this, we aren’t aware of the weight of what we have done.
To be honest with you, I think in 50 years, our generation is going to feel quite ashamed about how lax we were on abortion and just how much it really wasn’t something that we took very seriously. That’s just my opinion on that. But when it comes down to something like race, it’s horrendous to think what has happened.
I’ve been watching a lot of World War II videos, shows, and documentaries. It was horrible what was happening during this time in our world and how the Germans were treating the Jews. It’s ridiculous. It’s horrifying. My wife asks how I am able to watch that. I told her that honestly, I watch it because it reminds me of how horrible humans can be. It reminds me that we are one step away from our hearts doing the same thing. There’s no difference between the Nazi and the American. They have the same heart issue.
Justin Perdue: Were it not for the grace of God, there go we. It’s good to be sobered in that way.
Jon Moffitt: What I constantly am pushing back is that I can’t fix the past, because the past is in the past. I can’t give enough money. I can’t give enough speeches. I can’t give enough away because you cannot right those kinds of wrongs. In other words, if someone dies, you can’t fix that death. They’re gone forever. There is no fixing that. You can put a person in jail, but it doesn’t really right the wrong. As a matter of fact, there’s no way to truly right wrong in this world. There’s no way to reverse sin – and this is what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to reverse sin.
What I’m pushing people towards is this reality of that no matter how hard you try to fix the sin issues in this world, they cannot be fixed. I’m not saying give up and that we negate our responsibility to suppress evil where we can. I’m not saying I’m a passivist in this way. What I am saying is that there is a solution and it feels like we are ignoring it. There’s an ultimate solution and there’s a temporary solution. Because the heart can be changed where sin comes to light, and that is through the knowledge of the gospel. But I feel like the gospel becomes the last solution or, or a not even a solution at all. I almost feel like people think less of me that every time I say the actual solution to every single problem in this world is the gospel, that I am not dealing with the situation seriously.
Justin Perdue: The gospel is dismissed. To your point, it’s almost like you should be ashamed if all you’re doing is “preaching the gospel”. You need to be doing more than that.
Jimmy Buehler: Romans 1:16 has something to say about that.
Justin Perdue: No kidding. 1 Corinthians 2:4. “They decided to know nothing among you other than Christ and him crucified.” Others have made this point. At least in the inspired letters that he wrote, how concerned was Paul with the social issues of his day? Not very, it doesn’t seem. He doesn’t spill ink in Holy Scripture about it.
People may push back and say, “But God hasn’t revealed definitively everything that could ever be revealed.” That’s true, but He has given us what we need to know. He has given us what is of first importance, like 1 Corinthians 15. It’s the gospel that is primary. Then under the banner of love of neighbor, we can talk about all kinds of good things that we can do. I think we’ve been very clear about that on this podcast, but it does need to be said over and over again. It matters not how much you do in this world – you will never fix it. There will never be utopia this side of the resurrection. It can’t be done. That does not mean that we just bury our heads in the sand and batten down the hatches because the world’s going to hell in a hand basket. That’s not what we’re saying, but. You need to be realistic about what you can do.
That’s why we need to concern ourselves with our congregations and our communities. We need to live where we are, love our neighbor where we are, and realize that how we’re going to make an impact is one conversation and one cup of coffee at a time. We’re not just going to go out and transform the society. But we can love that person in our apartment complex, or we can love that person at the gym whenever we can go back to such a facility, we can love our brother or sister in the church and help meet practical needs, etc. We can do that stuff. But we’re not going to transform the culture broadly by how activistic we are on this thing or that thing, or how we vote this November.
I think this can be said in the members’ podcast. Here’s my encouragement with respect to voting: exercise your responsibilities as a citizen, vote according to your conscience, and regardless of how you vote, we’re going to have a lot of problems. There will be no utopia. Whether you are Republican or a Democrat or an independent, you’re going to write in a third-party name because you’re not going to choose between the lesser of two evils. Wherever your position is, there will be no utopia. Utopian notions that are blue or red or any other color need to be exploded by thoughtful people in the church, all the while, we go, and we vote, and we exercise our responsibilities as citizens.
Jon Moffitt: Christians should vote. A lot of Christians say they’re just not going to vote. I would say if you have the opportunity to suppress evil, I think you should.
Jimmy Buehler: I’m going to say something, and it might come off wrong, but let me just ask you guys a question: how’s your church doing with the Me Too Movement?
Remember when that was all over Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and everything? Please hear me when I am trying to say. What I’m not trying to say is we’re done with sexual abuse within the church. Not at all. But this goes back to the point I made earlier in the regular portion of the podcast that we are enslaved to the urgent. We are enslaved to the today. If we are going to do that, unfortunately, what I think this does is it makes the outside world actually not take Christianity seriously because we’re just like everybody else. We attach ourselves to what is most pressing, what is most urgent, what is most trendy. What I think it does is it actually undermines the work of the gospel and the everyday Christian life.
Justin Perdue: The Me Too Movement is a perfect illustration of the fact that the shelf life on any given fad in the church is about 18 months.
I saw some stuff on Twitter in recent weeks and months where the implication was, if I look at your Twitter feed and you are not saying as much about this issue as you are this stuff, then I’m basically writing you off.
I personally make it a practice to basically never tweet or Facebook post about current events. I do that for a reason. If you want to charge me with being a guy who doesn’t care about current events, I’ll take that shot. I live in the world, I’m a citizen just like you; I’ll happily take that shot. For my portion, I’m just going to continue to preach Jesus and the truth of Scripture. If that is unsatisfactory, then I’m going to go to bed at night and trust the Lord with it. Like we’ve said, if preaching the gospel and encouraging our people to love our neighbor is not enough, then so be it. We’re going to continue to do this and we’re going to continue to trust the Lord.
Jimmy Buehler: If I could just kind of insert one quick thing here, have you ever noticed how the tone is in light of these things? When we talk about focusing on the implications of the gospel, have you ever noticed how it’s done? It’s done with a tone of shame and guilt. The last time I checked, shame and guilt are what drives people to therapy, not to obedience.
Jon Moffitt: We are set free from shame and guilt. No condemnation.
Justin Perdue: You’re exactly right, Jon. Theologically, that’s a virtuous comment to make. Mine is less so. Mine’s a pragmatic observation. Guilt and shame don’t work. That dog won’t hunt. They’ve never produced anything good in anybody in the world or in the church. It’s not like we just should not use guilt and shame as pastoral tools. Guilt and shame don’t work in the culture. They will not produce lasting change. It’s it cannot be done.
Jon Moffitt: When a child has been raised under that kind of a mentality, they are bitter.
Jimmy Buehler: Therapy. What I just said. Something about the Law increases the trespass. I think I read that somewhere. But the point is, so often the posture of trying to get people to change or trying to get people to care about the most recent social issue is we try to guilt and shame them into doing so. It just doesn’t work.
Jon Moffitt: I want to go back to what Justin said as an illustration. Me Too is no longer in rotation not because it’s fixed. It’d be one thing to say we abolished that all sexual crimes. Done.
The reason why at Theocast, we constantly push you back to the gospel is because there is one thing, and nothing else, in Scripture that says contains God’s power: the gospel. You’re walking into a war against everything we’ve named, and you’re going to grab a weapon, and what is sad is Christians are grabbing every single weapon except for the one that contains the power of God. That’s what’s sad. Then we get laughed at when we grab the power of God to go to war, we get laughed at and told it’s not enough, but it is the only thing that has power and yet you’re telling me it’s not enough.
Jimmy Buehler: Again, it’s what makes Christianity laughable in our culture. When we attach ourselves to the current trend, all of a sudden people look at the church and say we only care about what’s trendy. They accuse us of not caring about this in a month or 18 months, for sure. In so many ways, that is true. I hate to say it and maybe this is a super jaded of me, but the sad fact of the matter is that in 18 months, most Christian pastors and churches are not going to be making statements on racism. Maybe a giant hurricane going to come through and it’s going to be about helping the displaced. It’s just going to be the next big thing.
I know that sounds super jaded and a lot of people are going to say I have such a low anthropology. But so does the Bible, and so did the church fathers.
So I am just always going to take the stance that I’m going to preach the One who never changes, the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. That’s just what makes the most sense.
Justin Perdue: I’m listening to you guys talk and I’ve made some similar comments over the last hour, but these kinds of conversations stir me up and spur me on in my calling as a pastor, and then even as a Christian.
It’s all right if we get shot at, if we get laughed at, if we get mocked, or if we get ridiculed for always going back to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where else would we go? What else would we do?
Again, not to say that we can’t be involved in causes and that we can’t do good things. Like you said, Jon, if you can prevent injustice then, by all means, do it. But we need to quit deluding ourselves into thinking that we can pull these things off. It sounds just like the charges that we get all the time about obedience, in general, is that the gospel is great, but now we need to move on to the stuff that really matters. We need to move on to like the rubber-meets-the-road stuff so that we can really get about the business of the Christian life and making a difference. You are absolutely deceived and you’re kidding yourself. If you think that any of those things that are meaningful could ever be done apart from the power of Christ and the gospel, they can’t be.
Jon Moffitt: If you were to go to all three of our churches on one Sunday, it’s all the same flavor: Jesus Christ.
Justin Perdue: In every good way that could be meant.
Jon Moffitt: It’s not because we’re trying to copy each other but because we believe this is what Scripture truly offers the weary pilgrim. One of the things about Theocast that has brought me more energy than my own little context, and even watching Jimmy’s context, is that when people start listening to the gospel, the phrase “helping weary pilgrims rest in Christ” can also say gospel. That’s what this means. When we made it our mission to make that the focal point of what we talk about, and there are a lot of great podcasts out there, but we wanted to help people weed through everything that is out there and help them logically see Jesus is the only solution and him crucified.
The emails and comments that we receive are just refreshing because people, once they rest in Christ, it is life-transforming for them. It is so different. The air is so clean and pure.
But the message of the gospel as is, as it’s being laughed at in our current context, we who trust in it know that it is the only solution. We care not to have the approval of the world because we have the power of God. That is one thing I pray that you, as listeners, will never forget that what you’re holding on to is laughable in the eyes of men, but in the eyes of God, He says it is the source of all power. Trust in Him.
Justin Perdue: At our church, one of the things that some of the people will say with respect to being offered and given Christ and the gospel, is “we got the goods today”. Thanks for giving us the goods today. That’s something I would encourage people as they think about their church experience. When you’re evaluating the service that you just attended, don’t ask yourself, “Did my pastor say something super insightful about some current cultural issue?” The questions you need to ask are, “Did I get the goods today? Was I given Jesus in the word? Was I offered Christ? Was I called to come to the table to receive Christ in the bread and the wine? Did that happen today? Was Jesus Christ for held out to me today or not?”
If that’s happening in your local church context, praise be to God. Keep showing up because that’s what’s going to carry the day, not just for the next 18 months while something’s trendy, but it’s going to carry the day for as many years as the Lord gives you.
Jimmy Buehler: Gentlemen, I think we gave the goods in this podcast today. Thank you again to our members. Thank you for listening. Thank you for tuning in. Thank you for your support and your love. We hope this conversation helped you and benefited you in some way. If you believe that, please share our podcast with someone who you think would also benefit from this.
This has already come out, so I’m excited about our new primer, Safe in Christ, our little primer on assurance. Make sure that you pick up that primer and maybe pick up a few and hand it out to those in need of them. I know assurance is that thing in the Christian life and in the Christian Church that not many people want to talk about, but it is not the wallflower at the dance; it is in the center of the floor with its awkward arms flailing about.
Thank you for listening. We love your support. We’re grateful for you. We hope you tune in again next week.