Last Monday morning the social media world was in a huff because United Airlines denied boarding to teenage girls on one of their flights because of inappropriate attire. All the major news outlets reported the story.
How dare anyone tell us, the paying public, what to wear?
Well, as it turns out, no one did. The airline, like most companies, has a dress code for employees. The girls in question flew as “pass riders” – a term used for those flying for free or at heavily discounted fares as a perk offered to United Airlines employees and their dependents. Since they represent the company, United says they must abide by the dress code.
Increasingly, more people demand that society cease imposing rules that infringe on their personal freedom. Decorum, good manners and adherence to socially accepted practices, though still important to a dwindling majority, are an anathema to those who envision the only acceptable society to be one that doesn’t interfere with their personal desires.
Many want to live in a society where the only rule is – there are no rules, at least none that conflict with what they want to do. That means, for them, these rules aren’t really rules at all. By removing all but the rules they want to obey, they can be righteous in their own eyes. This is as true for libertarians as it is for liberals.
But make no mistake; they want rules for everyone else.
When this concept is applied to the society at large, the result is chaos. In an effort to build what they believe to be a better society they actually demolish it.
Lawlessness Will Greatly Increase
Christians shouldn’t be surprised. The oft-repeated pattern of a society’s rejection of God’s truth followed by everyone attempting to do what is right in his own eyes is playing out before us.
We see in America today a consistent march toward lawlessness. By that, I don’t mean more people are breaking laws. That would be less serious than the problem we have. No, in America, many want to get rid of rules – specifically, God’s law as revealed in the Bible. By becoming increasingly law-less, or without the law, our nation loses the protection God’s law gives to those who acknowledge Him.
The divisive issues of our time – abortion, same-sex marriage and inequality, to name a few – all result from the deception that humanity can make its own rules. Of course, if God does not exist or if we have sufficiently tamed him or made him into a god of our own imagination, then making our own rules makes perfect sense.
Not only should we expect conflict with the unbelieving world, Jesus told his disciples to expect betrayal and hatred from other professing believers (Matthew 24:10). As persecution gets worse, we will be sorely tempted to give up or give in. As wickedness increases many Christians will forego doing good works, including preaching the gospel. Jesus, however, tells us to stand firm to the end.
Some Christians have given in to society’s rules by embracing the idea of a seeker-friendly church. This past Sunday, my home church participated in the Dallas Pulpit Swap. These swaps are done in the hope they will help break down racial barriers in the community. Our guest preacher emphasized the important task of getting out into the community to serve other people and highlighted the fact that Jesus sought out his disciples; they did not come to him. I was particularly struck by his application of this principle to show the folly of seeker-friendly churches.
Jesus Models the Way
It seems to me that seeker-friendly churches acquiesce to the world’s desire to change the rules so that unbelievers can avoid the rules they don’t want to obey. Whenever efforts to attract unbelievers compromise God’s standards in the process, that church, instead of being relevant to the culture, becomes irrelevant to God’s purpose and encourages unbelievers to accept a faith and a god of their own making.
Jesus told us he came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Seeker friendly churches cater to people who don’t exist for “no one seeks God (Romans 3:11).” We only seek and love God after he has first loved us and drawn us to himself (1 John 4:19; John 6:44).
Jesus set the pattern we should follow – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).” It cost Jesus much to seek and save us. It will cost us much to go and make disciples of all nations, even if our mission field is in our own city.
The lost, when they seek freedom from God’s authority so they may do as they please, lose the freedom to consider others first in any decisions they make. Instead, they become enslaved to a selfishness in which self-given rights trump those granted by God.
But Christians, trying to preserve America’s way of life, exhibit their own brand of selfishness. Too often we resist the culture from the safety and comfort of our fortified Christian bunkers, expecting to win the battle without directly engaging the real enemy. We place our hope in politics or government leaders. We expect to win a spiritual battle by warring against flesh and blood opponents.
Jesus came to free us from sin and selfish desires. Jesus came to free us to do good works. People who resist God and his wisdom, substituting their rules for His, place Satan’s chains on their own limbs and insist we join them.
I say we, standing firm in the full armor of God, strong in the Lord and in his mighty power and fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, go and unlock their chains instead.
What do you say?