The SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage, while not unexpected, was dramatic. The implications of the ruling—for Christians in general and pastors in particular—are more far-reaching than we presently realize. I must say that, as I sat and watched the coverage unfold, I couldn’t help but think that God has turned over the USA to her fleshly passions in accordance with Romans 1. How should the church respond?
Focusing On Good Things Is Not Always The Best Thing
As I thought through how we respond to this crisis, I had to think through how we came to this point. Could it be: the church focused on “good” things rather than on the “best” thing? I thought of Martha, Luke 10:40: Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
All the things that distracted Martha were “good.” She was serving the Lord. She was serving for His cause. She was serving with all of her heart. All her efforts were “good.” But, were they the “best” thing?
For the last several decades, the church has focused on “good” things. Fighting against abortion is a “good” thing. Fighting against homosexuality is a “good” thing. But are those two issues the “best” thing? In our zeal to address those two social issues, it seems that the church took her eyes off the [gospel] ball.
Perhaps we focused too much on “good” causes rather than the “best” cause. Let me explain. The 21st century culture knows what the church is “against:” We are “against” abortion; we are “against” homosexuality.
The 21st century does not know what the church is “for:” We are “for” protecting the rights of those made in His image. We are “for” good, healthy, gospel-pictured marriages. In a phrase, we are “for” the GOSPEL.
My fear is that the church has expended so much time and energy focusing on “good” things that we have neglected the “best” thing: the GOSPEL.
Focusing On The Best Thing Is Always A Good Thing
Jesus redefined the issue for Martha, Luke 10:41: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus, in effect, was showing her this: I AM SUFFICIENT.
The NT church knew Jesus was sufficient. The Roman government was corrupt, abortion was rampant, and homosexuality was widespread (especially among the leaders of the day). Yet, the NT church addressed those issues by focusing on the “best” thing: the GOSPEL!
Jesus’ GOSPEL is sufficient to address same-sex marriage. We never read of Jesus holding a picket sign, protesting social issues in Rome. Rather, we read Him say: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20). We never read of the NT church speaking to the media, decrying homosexuality. Rather, we read: Every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:42). We never read of the apostle Paul being distracted by the social evils of his society. Rather, we read him say, We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:23ff). They didn’t let “good” things cloud the “best” thing.
I wonder: If the church had spent more time and energy making disciples, would we be in this present crisis? The GOSPEL, and the GOSPEL alone is sufficient! And the center of that GOSPEL is Jesus Christ, our sufficiency.
How should the church respond? I had lunch some years ago with someone who was passionate about one of these social issues. He asked me, “What are you going to do, as lead pastor, to address the problem?” My response was simple: “I’m going to make disciples for Jesus. Then, I’m going send those disciples into the world to be salt and light for His glory.” Sadly, that answer seemed insufficient for this person.
Pastors: Focus on the “best” thing—the GOSPEL—and all the “good” things will fall into place. Brothers, let me speak candidly: We are not politicians. We’re called to protect, preserve, and proclaim the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ. Keep your eye on the [gospel] ball. The GOSPEL changes hearts, and a GOSPEL-centered heart changes convictions.
Church: Focus on the “best” thing—JESUS—and all the “good” things will fall into place. As we live JESUS-centered lives, and lead others to know Him, grow in Him, and go for Him, we will expand His glory and His Kingdom.
Members: Focus on the “best” thing—MAKING JESUS-DISCIPLES—and all the “good” things will fall into place. Be “salt” and “light” and penetrate this depraved culture. Make GOSPEL-centered disciples, and penetrate your workplace, penetrate your local government positions, penetrate your national government positions, penetrate your world by making more disciples for Jesus.
Everyone: Do not be distracted by “good” things. Keep your eye on the “best” thing. The results we leave with God.
by: Dr. Chip Thornton. Chip serves as the lead pastor of the First Baptist Church in Springville, AL where he and his wife Kerri and their four children reside.