Give Me Jesus, Not Your Values

I wish not to be trite here.

My burden in this post is to challenge you, my reader, to truly rethink what shapes you–your thoughts and actions.

What drives you?

What motivates you?

Our blessed Savior once said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 CSB).

What do you and I truly treasure?  Do we treasure what Jesus truly treasures? Can we truthful say that what Jesus treasures we treasure?

Values is defined as a person’s principles or standards of behavior; or a person’s judgment of what is important in life.

Our values reveal what we treasure.

For example, if you’re a white Christian living in North America and you do not take some kind of a stance against racial injustice, then you might want to rethink your values.

Here is why: people matter to Jesus.  All people.  Not just the people who look like you.  Jesus gave his life for the black man as well (Revelation 5:9-10).

If my values lead me to discriminate or slight someone because of their race, then my values are not in step with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  My values are anti-Jesus (Galatians 2:11-14).

So give me Jesus, and not values that do not advance his Kingdom.

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20 Responses to Give Me Jesus, Not Your Values

  1. Jon Hughes says:

    TC,

    Completely agree with you on gospel values versus racism and discrimination, but the Bible itself could sometimes be viewed as failing the test – whether it’s the extermination of the Canaanites in Joshua’s day, Ezra’s insistence on Israelites abandoning their foreign wives, or Jesus’s words to the Syrophoenician woman that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and it wasn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs. Even if in this last example Jesus was drawing out a faith response from the woman, it’s hardly the sort of language we’d accept from Donald Trump!

    According to the popular evangelical script, God Himself is the Great Discriminator, as He will abandon forever all those who reject the aforementioned gospel.

    • TC Robinson says:

      Jon,
      What’s God’s overall intention for the human race? Where are we headed as a human race?

      Jesus’ words to the Syrophoenician woman is to be treated contextually and should not take away from his intentions for the human race.

      God as discriminator is hardly the same as what this post is about. I don’t get your reference.

      • Jon Hughes says:

        A fair few Christians believe that God’s intention for the human race is to damn the vast majority in order that He might be glorified thereby – and for the lucky few whom He chooses to save to agree that He is just in doing so.

        We become like the God we worship. If you believe that God abandons even a portion of the race – those He created, and is therefore responsible for – to an endless place of conscious torment, then you have precious little moral ground for the things that you passionately write about.

        Thank God that we are usually better than our theology. You ask me what God’s intention for the human race is. I answer that it is to save it – all of it. We’re one race. We stand or fall together. Even eschatologically… even after God has judged the world in righteousness. Now that’s a springboard for social action!

  2. TC Robinson says:

    Jon,
    Yes, “We become like the God we worship.” But I feel like you are missing a few links in your argument. How does your argument move from generalities to particulars?

    Even with a universalism view, the very existence of sin in the human heart throws a wrench in all this.

  3. Jon Hughes says:

    “God has no need to control our individual choices in order to checkmate each of us in the end” (Thomas Talbott, “The Inescapable Love of God”).

    The existence of sin in the human heart throws no wrench in this. You just need to expand your Calvinism a bit, brother 😉

    Precisely because I believe we’re all going to get there in the end, no single individual or people group should be left by the wayside in our pursuit of justice here below. This is why universal reconciliation is so relevant to what you’re passionate about. Calvinism doesn’t provide the moral authority for Christians to refuse to pass over people in their pursuit of justice, because the God of Jonathan Edwards does exactly that, for His glory.

    Try this thought experiment: In heaven, are you going to passionately undertake the cause of Mahatma Gandhi, who was refused entry to a nearby church when seriously considering the Christian faith because of the colour of his skin? How about those countless numbers of Jews who went straight from Hitler’s ovens to God’s oven?

    If not, why not? We hear a lot about white privilege these days. What about Christian privilege? Are we going to get passionate – not only in this life, but in the next – for those precious souls who may have rejected the gospel for all sorts of varied reasons, or who never heard the gospel at all, or who were specifically put off by those who represented the gospel to them?

    How could we do any less?

    Not only do we need the gospel, we need the larger hope…

  4. TC Robinson says:

    Jon,
    Yesterday I read how God wants all people to be saved. Then today I read how the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is something of a theological conundrum. But I am currently bound by how I read Scripture. Ala Luther, i can do mo other.

  5. TC Robinson says:

    Per Rev. 5:9-10 All kinds of people are going to be their. What Calvinism God do you imagine put them their?

    • Jon Hughes says:

      TC,

      Not to mention Psalm 22:27: “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord. All the families of the nations will bow down before you…” (CSB)

      I love these passages, just as you do, and hold to what you might describe as an expanded Calvinism in which the ‘elect’ are a kind of ‘firstfruits’ of a greater harvest to come in the plan and purpose of God.

      • TC Robinson says:

        Jon,
        Yes, God does what he wants, but I don’t believe it’s that simple. What of those who reject God and want nothing to do with him?

        If not universalism, then it’s a kind of annihilationistism, or a re-imagining this whole hell issue.

  6. Colin Heath says:

    Good debate. Reminds me of Bob Bell and Love Wins. Esp Jon’s thought on whether God gets what he wants. Almost straight out of the book, and at very least a reasonable question. Though Bob Bell does write that we will get the hell we want and imply that some will have “chosen” that. I gather at one point he specifically denied he was a universalist.

    But I wish I could find a link to one of Spurgeon’s sermons I have read . A strong Calvinist, he suggested that he was sure he would be delighted at how many would be in eternal life with him and how few would not. Universalist he was not but he seemed to expect that the saved would cover a significant majority of the population. If I find a link I will post it.

    A paradox whose answer we will not know in this life perhaps?

    • Jon Hughes says:

      Hi Colin,

      I think it was Spurgeon who believed that more would be saved than lost, lest the devil get the victory, but he was probably including infants who died as part of the company of the redeemed – which still entails the vast majority of adults perishing, and rather disturbingly as far as I’m concerned renders Herod’s massacre of the infants (and other such atrocities throughout history) a positive thing in the sense that a greater number of souls were redeemed as a result.

      Rob Bell certainly set the cat among the pigeons back in 2011. He’s a brave man. Anything by Thomas Talbott or Robin Parry (a.k.a. Gregory MacDonald) is terrific regarding the larger hope, and goes into more depth than Bell. As you say, he didn’t actually nail his colours to the mast as a Universalist.

      Spurgeon, although a five point Calvinist had good instincts, especially when he prayed the prayer: “Lord, bring in thine elect… and then elect some more!”

      John Stott also believed that the majority of the human race would be saved, although he confessed that he didn’t know how God was going to do it. In fact, a lot of godly men, powerfully used by the Lord, have held out a wider hope in old age – I’m thinking of John Wesley and Billy Graham here. I’m not saying they became Universalists, but they did become more generous in the hope they held out.

  7. Jon Hughes says:

    TC,

    Regarding your question about those who reject God and want nothing to do with him, how about yourself? Was there a time when you rejected God and wanted nothing to do with him? It’s interesting how we assume God unable (or unwilling) to do for other rebellious sinners what He has already done for us.

    “For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:32, CSB)

    • TC Robinson says:

      Jon,
      Yes, I’m eternally grateful for his saving me.

      But are you approaching something of a Rob Bell, as Colin noted above? It’s the only way your view is going to work, in light of those who have died without Christ and in rebellion against God?

      A second opportunity, if you will?

      • Jon Hughes says:

        Yes, post-mortem opportunities to repent. There’s not a passage in Scripture which precludes the possibility – even Hebrews 9:27, which simply states that it is appointed for people to die once and after this judgement. No one committed to Scripture would deny that judgement is coming. In fact, we’re all going to be salted with fire (and in context, it’s the fire of Gehenna) according to Jesus in Mark 9.

        You write above about re-imagining the whole issue. Too right! It’s about time. We’ve been bound to the traditions of the elders for too long on this one. There were a number of prominent Universalists in the early centuries of the Christian faith. It’s no novelty.

  8. Jon Hughes says:

    TC,

    I’ve gone somewhat beyond Rob Bell, being persuaded that universal reconciliation is the teaching of the Bible. Consider the parallelism in passages such as Romans 5:18-19, where the scope of those justified in Christ is equal to that of those condemned in Adam; or Colossians 1:16-20, where the creation of all things, the holding together of all things and the reconciliation of all things are all through Christ and of equal scope.

    This is the overarching grid through which to interpret the Bible, including the judgement passages, in my view. Unfortunately, some brethren give the impression of wanting to defend the hell they love so much, to the extent that the universal hope never gets a look-in. The judgement passages carry much more weight, it would seem.

    If you get the time, try reading Robin Parry’s contribution to “Four Views on Hell” (2nd edition, Zondervan, 2016).

    God bless

    • TC Robinson says:

      Jon,
      I see your view. Only one question: how do you balance the “eternals” of Matthew 25:46? It seems to me that what one’s hold of “life” they must also hold of “punishment” when understanding “eternal.” What am I missing here?

      • Jon Hughes says:

        Perhaps you’re missing the underlying Greek…

        Aionion life/punishment pertains to an age – an indefinite period of time – see Young’s Literal Translation of Matthew 25:46. The short answer is that we know that we have eternal life not from from this verse, but from elsewhere in the New Testament – e.g. Christ ‘bringing life and immortality to light through the gospel’, and ‘this mortal putting on immortality’ (2 Timothy 1:10; 1 Corinthians 15:54).

        Yes, we who believe enjoy the life of the age to come, and there is a corresponding punishment of the age to come for those who don’t believe. I wish that more English versions rendered such passages in this way. N.T. Wright in his translation of John 3:16, for example, refers to those who believe in Jesus as sharing in the “life of God’s new age”.

  9. TC Robinson says:

    Jon,
    Whatever we conclude about punishment we must do the same for life.

    I get the nuances of translation, but not everything is during this life – some texts have the afterlife and after the return of Christ in mind.

  10. Jon Hughes says:

    TC,

    I’m not referring to this life, but the age (or ages) to come. However, that which pertains to an age (or ages) by no means necessarily equates to eternity; nor does aionion life/punishment have to refer to equal duration.

    The English rendering ‘eternal’ is most unfortunate, as it has the tendency to be a conversation stopper!

    Aionion and its O.T. counterpart ‘olam’ are very elastic terms. For example, a Moabite was not allowed to enter the assembly of the LORD forever, which was actually ten generations (see Deuteronomy 23:2-3, ESV). Likewise, Jonah was barred in forever by the earth beneath (Jonah 2:6), except that it was in fact a matter of days!

    We can’t overlook the use of figurative language. For example, Revelation 14:11 reads: “…the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever.” You can’t have an extended period of time on top of forever – the additional ‘ever’ is superfluous. Of course, if we want to understand it in more concrete terms, it makes far more sense to view it as ages upon ages 😉

    Incidentally, the smoke of Edom will rise forever (Isaiah 34:10). This was a historical judgment upon Edom. Bible literalists should organise tours to modern day Jordan to establish the veracity of Scripture by visiting the never ending smoke. (Couldn’t resist that one!)

    One problem with the debate at large is that no matter how carefully Universalists try to articulate their position, it invariably gets misconstrued as a view that there is no hell or eschatological judgment. Other than the frustration that accompanies this, it is a fascinating subject to study in depth.

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