August 16, 2022 Pastor Steve Behlke

How to Respond to Cultural Hot Topics

How to Respond to Cultural Hot Topics

The example being abortion.

In Hosea, Isaiah, and Jude we looked at God’s love and His holiness. 

We have also been warned to protect ourselves from idols and false teachings. Idols are anything more important to us than God. False teachers lead believers away God, often without believers even realizing it. This happens whenever we mistakenly think that Jesus approves of a teaching which He calls false, or that He blesses an activity which He warns against. 

So, Jude 3 exhorts us to "contend earnestly" for the faith, Christian teaching.

Jude also encourages us to "keep yourselves in the love of God." (Jude 20-21)

God has deep, lasting, affectionate, love for you. There’s joy in believing this. Yet God is clear, so we believe tat our faith in God’s love is constantly attacked by false teaching. The enemy wants to separate you from God’s love. But God exhort you to trust His love for you, to keep yourselves in the love of God.

He’s not telling to attain lovable status; it is given to you in Christ. 

But none of us are very good at receiving love. We’re busy proving ourselves. 

So as a church, we’re learning to receive God’s love in Christ. There’s joy in that! And living forgiven. And particularly hearing His love spoken through His Word.

As we delight in what our Lord tells us, we receive His love. As we obey Him, we let Him teach us, direct us, protect us. And so, we grow in His love. And it changes us.

Loving God is the best way to guard against idols, false teaching. 

Yet the church also needs to be engage on offense. When Jesus said “the gates of hell won’t prevail against the church,” it’s like sometimes we need to storm the enemy to rescue those who want out.

The world is pushing false narratives and dehumanizing values on children, women, men—hurting the church, and hurting our neighbors, coworkers, classmates. And if you don’t agree, well, there’s something morally wrong with you. At times we are called to engage, not be silent. 

That can be scary.

We don’t want to engage in culture wars or political name calling.

Yet we aren’t to be entirely silent—people pleasers. 

But all of us, together, want to protect unwitting people, in and out of the church, from evil and harmful choices the culture promotes for their good; and also to share the gospel that they trust Jesus for eternal life and enter into a “this-changes-everything-forever” relationship with God.

There are any number of hot button issues at any time.

So, how do we engage these issues as followers of Jesus who are in the world, but not of the world?

1) First, be careful to not respond to cultural teachings, idols, and biases with our own cultural teachings, idols, and biases. What our parents taught us. What our preferred news sources tell us. 

2) Be sure to immerse yourselves in God's Word on these issues. Know and value what God says about it. This calls for humility. We believe what we believe and we all very strongly justify our beliefs. But what does the Father who loves you say? What does Jesus who died and rose from the dead say? Let us base our understanding on God’s Word. 

Any of these hot-issues can divide a nation or a church.

It’s easier to ignore them, but God wants us to grow together in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man. (Ephesians 4:13) 

Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men… craftiness… deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Christ.

So any response must not mirror the culture, but Jesus.

Don’t offer a conservative voice or a woke or a moderate voice but a prophetic voice. 

1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God… so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

"Whoever speaks." Notice, not everyone speaks. And not on every issue. But if you do speak, speak with both the fortitude and the gentleness of Jesus,

2 Timothy 2:24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

So immerse your mind, and your heart in God’s Word on this, 

1 Peter 3:15 … Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 

Jesus didn’t deal with every hypothetical problem or broad-brushed question. But He dealt with the individual before Him! I.e., Jesus didn’t deal with whether tax-collectors are evil. But He forgave this hated taxman Zaccheus. And He called this tax-collector, Matthew, to follow Me.

He didn’t deal with the hypothetical: "Hey, Jesus, what’s worse, getting a divorce, remarrying, or living with your boyfriend?" But He dealt mercifully with THIS WOMAN, whom He met at a well in the heat of day; who had been married and divorced five times and was living with her boyfriend. He loved her, gave her life. 

SUMMARY: If you respond to any of the cultural hot button issues…

  1. Be careful not to respond to cultural biases with our own cultural biases. 
  2. Be sure God’s Word determines your understanding of this issue. 
  3. Deal with the individual before you who is hurting. I.e., love this person.
  4. Fourthly, understand the more important issue.

The culture’s hot button issues and slants were not hot button issues or debatable slants to Jesus.

Jesus didn’t come to argue ethics. He came to seek and to save the lost, to reconcile God and sinners. 

And, “Just as the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “so I send you.” 

And Jesus doesn’t send us to argue ethics. But as Jesus’ said to Paul,

Acts 26:17… I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

We are given the gospel for unbelievers to hear about Jesus so they can turn from Satan’s control to find God’s love in Christ—extending freedom and grace forever.

But there are times you may address cultural lies in protective love. And I want to walk you through this…

Let’s take one hot-button issue that people are talking about, it could be Gun Control, Gender or Transgender issues, Uvalde, Ukraine, Free Speech, but lets pick Abortion.

Abortion any time, for any reason. 

Not a political view. Not our feelings. But God's view, and God's feelings. Everyone has an opinion. The first thing is to learn and value what God says about abortion. 

So where do you start? I said last week the problem with Google is it's based on your algorithm and Google biases. You may only hear one side. 

Go directly to the Bible. Open the concordance if necessary. And it probably is.

Do the same with any topic: gender, SSM, CRT, America first, globalism.

We want to learn what God says about abortion, so look up the word abortion.

But we discover that the word abortion isn’t in the Bible. Jesus never mentioned it.

Some argue therefore, God is fine with abortion. But Jesus doesn’t speak on guns, rape, or racism, either. In other words, an argument from silence is not a logical argument at all. Besides, the people of Israel, when Jesus spoke to them, had the highest regard for children. Abortion was not debatable; it was NOT a hot-button issue to them.

What do we do since the bible doesn’t mention the word abortion?

Well, the real issue is whether what is growing in the womb is a baby, a human life or not? I think science is clear, but what does God say about when life begins? We also want to know how God views and treats the being in the womb. 

So open the Bible. And your concordance.

When does life begin? Lev. 17:11 tells us "The life of the flesh is in the blood." So at the very least, at 6 weeks old, when the child’s heart is pumping blood.

Next, I want to see how God treats whatever is growing in the womb. 

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance…

And it's not only in the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, Mary, at the time she is less than three months pregnant with Jesus whose human body is developing in her womb, met Elizabeth, who was also pregnant with John, the future baptist.

Luke 1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby [GK brephos]

leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb [Jesus]! 43 And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord [Jesus] would come to me?” 44 “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby [John! The future baptist] leaped in my womb for joy.” 

Note, "the baby" (John) responded to Jesus, while both John and Jesus were in their respective mother's wombs! Jesus was three months or younger!

This same Greek word for baby, “brephos,” refers to a child in the womb, to a newborn child, and to a young child. God sees no difference in terms of being. Elizabeth called the 3 months developing fetus, pre-born Jesus "her lord."

The same word for Jesus in the womb was used to describe Jesus AFTER He was born, when the shepherds “found Mary and Joseph and the baby [brephos] lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16)

So, children of God, followers of Jesus, whatever the topic, know God’s view on it. If you disagree, trust God’s wisdom; this is how we keep ourselves in His love. If you think our Lord isn’t loving on a hot button issue, be humble; He loves others way more than you do. And He is far wiser and just. Find joy believing His Word.

Third, remember, we aren’t studying to gain ammunition to win the argument.

Our new heart’s hope is to lead THIS WOMAN, whether she’s a believer or not, to the One who knows her best and loves her most. 

So identify with Christ, He’s in you. If a woman met Jesus, facing an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy, Jesus would not condemn her. 

I can hear Jesus ask her questions, have her share her story.

In John 4, He engaged with the woman at the well on her level, gave her opportunity to share her hurts. He listened. He didn't have a canned answer, but one specifically for her.

And using her language, starting with a cup of water, He found out what she truly thirsted for, offered Himself as “living water,” which made sense to her—and Jesus used this to reconcile her to God.

Whatever the issue, if someone is concerned about Gun Violence, School Shootings, Gender Theory, Free Speech, CRT, be sure to know God’s truth and know (love) the person. Listen to their concerns, their hopes for the future. Hear their fear that this child or a gun or transphobic hate might destroy their hopes. 

Love. Don’t hate. Know the truth, humbly. And knowing the Savior, respect them. Don’t lose a person by being a jerk over an ethical issue. The issue is not as important as the Gospel. Representing Jesus accurately that they may believe.

The goal to represent Jesus and to point to Him as the person’s deepest need. He is where their real hope and future and worth are found.