I borrowed the title of this post from a song written by Bo Diddley and also recorded by Eric Clapton, but it seemed appropriate for my topic.
In responding to the cultural climate, unfortunately large segments of the church fall prey to one of two errors. One extreme is to acquiesce to the culture and thus ignore scriptural mandates and prohibitions. The other extreme is to loudly denounce those who refuse to acknowledge the authority of Scripture. Instead of these extremes, we need to allow Scripture to contend with the parts of our culture with which it disagrees and validate the parts of culture with which it agrees.
I take Scripture very seriously and where the author intended it to be taken literally, I seek to do so. But there is a danger of becoming like the Pharisees in that we can miss the work of God in another person’s life because of our prideful grandstanding on hot issues of the day. When we take scripture and use it to point the finger at others, we are in grave danger of misrepresenting both God and Scripture.
For example, in Romans 1:18, Paul writes,
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (ESV)
Paul tells us that God’s wrath is upon those who suppress the truth.
The word suppress is in the present tense, it is an ongoing suppression of the truth. The problem is that we all suppress the truth to one extent or another. Because of this, we should be wary of denouncing other people who are openly hostile to God. In our rush to separate ourselves from a particular viewpoint, my may become angry and judgmental and as a result misrepresent the Jesus we worship.
The Gospel tells us that we are all tainted by sin and every part of us displays this taint. There is nothing that I do from completely pure motives. There is nothing that I do that is not alloyed with selfishness and pride. When I am giving ground to my selfishness and pride, I am actively suppressing the truth about myself and my God. Therefore, I should be reluctant to accuse anyone else.
In support of this idea, I would point to two places later on in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Romans 2:1 encourages us to stay away from judging others because we are prone to the same corruption that is displayed by those we would like to condemn. In Chapter 12 of Romans, Paul tells us that we are in need of transformation by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). In other words, we are not thinking straight and need to have our minds reprogrammed.
Yes, in the United States, our culture is moving away from a Judeo/Christian ethic. There are decisions being made on moral issues that are contrary to Scripture. My intention is not to soft sell this or to make it seem like rebellion against God’s laws is acceptable or good. We need to live by and be open about God’s standards for human behavior.
That being said, we need to be careful in our denunciation because we are made of the same stuff. I know for a fact that I am no less a sinner than one who is openly hostile to Christ or Scripture.
What is interesting to me is that in the preaching of Jesus, I don’t see him denouncing anyone other than the hypocritical religious leaders. He simply offered them something better than what they already had. He offered them himself.