Hey, Calvary Fremont –
Just like Esau, the Church has sold her heavenly birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. Veils and vaccinations, cultural values and social vision have become more pressing to the Church than the mission, mandate, and message of the Gospel. How we align with veils and vaccinations, cultural values and a particular social vision has become for many a more urgent matter than faithfulness to the Gospel. Here’s my thinking on the issue…
The veil has been torn. The way to God has been opened through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The medicine of heaven has been dispensed. If you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you shall be saved.
The values of the kingdom of God are not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Our vision is the whole earth filled with the glory of God.
I know – that sounds pretentious. Yet in a day when so many passionate voices are demanding we take a stand, when so many persuasive personalities contend for this or that, we need to make sure where we stand. How we must fervently strive to keep the main thing the main thing when other things are demanding a verdict. “But don’t veils and vaccinations and values and vision call for a verdict?” Yes, they do. And each one must decide for themselves on these matters – but don’t make your verdict the message of your life. The message of your life is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And if your verdict on these things makes you an evangelist for your cause or leads you to vilify those who have decided differently than you, you have sold your Gospel birthright for a bowl of cultural stew. What a tragedy when those who once had love for all now have only contempt for those who don’t stand where they stand on these issues.
If you vilify someone who wears a mask – you have become Esau.
If you condemn the one who doesn’t wear a mask – you have become Esau.
The same with vaccinations.
If you vilify the Democrats – you have become Esau.
If you condemn the one who is a Republican – you have become Esau.
If you vilify someone who holds a ‘Black Lives Matter’ banner – you have become Esau.
If you dismiss the one who finds Critical Race Theory helpful in understanding current events – you have become Esau.
If you strive to convince others of your understanding of veils and vaccinations, cultural values, and social vision more than reasoning with them concerning the Gospel – you have become Esau. Lentil stew has become more important than heavenly birthright. If you don’t love the one who looks at these things differently than you – you have become Esau. And if that’s not bad enough – it gets even worse!
Esau gave up his heavenly birthright for a pot of stew, but later, Israel loses her most precious possession to the Philistines. Most of you know the story in 1 Samuel 4 where Israel carries the ark into battle against the Philistines and the Philistines win the battle and take the ark of the covenant as a spoil of war. Inside the ark of God are the ten commandments, whereas the ark itself represented the very presence of God among them. They lost the presence of God. Yikes! Let that sink in. They lost the presence of God. The priest Phineas is killed and when his pregnant wife hears that her husband has died and that the ark of God was taken, she gives birth prematurely and right before she dies, she says to name the baby boy Ichabod. Ichabod means ‘the glory has departed.’
The Church that is Esau becomes the Church that is Ichabod. When veils and vaccinations, cultural values and social vision become more important to the Church than the Gospel of Jesus Christ – the glory has departed. Esau becomes Ichabod and the Church becomes just another cultural institution and no longer the voice of God on earth. When the demands of culture crowd out the voice of God in His Church – the glory has departed. When the mission, mandate, and message of the culture ring out in the sanctuaries of God’s Church – the Philistines have triumphed. But not for long.
After seven months with the Philistines, the ark was returned to Israel and God began to restore His glory. And God will restore His glory in His Church. The apostle John tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. Where Jesus is preached, there is the glory of God. Where Jesus is worshipped, there is the glory of God. Where Jesus is surrendered to, there is the glory of God. It was the culture of His day that crucified and buried Jesus, and culture everywhere will do so every time it has the opportunity. Through outright persecution or by means of subtle redirection, if Jesus can be made of secondary importance in the Church, there Esau and Ichabod set up their tents. Esau and Ichabod have no place in the Church. Anything that overshadows devotion to Jesus has no place in the Church. Anything that steals attention from Jesus has no place in the Church. Anything that diminishes God’s love in you for others has no place in the Church. Be zealous for Jesus’ rightful place in His Church. Be jealous for the glory of God. Esau and Ichabod, be gone!
Be blessed and stay healthy and follow Jesus – Pastor Tim