The New Morality
There is a “new morality” in our culture. It is one focused on diversity, social justice, and inclusion. Yet in it, we see the leaving behind of traditional values. Fidelity between a man and a woman. Few discussions on what it means to be a person of wholeness. And little discussion on the existence of God and how He is involved in our lives.
The early church writers were consistently addressing ways we slide down slippery slopes in our philosophy. They did it by repeatedly turning back to the main thing. The reason for our faith. Jesus. They wrote things like “Be on your guard…” and “who bewitched you?” The subtle differences matter.
As the world shifts its moral emphasis, and it will always do this by the way, it is tempting for us believers to shift our emphasis as well. The New Testament writers addressed the church more than they addressed the world. They were most concerned with us shifting our identity away from Jesus to other things. Good works.
Few will argue with treating everyone with respect regardless of their color, sexual preference or differences is good. Most will say acting this way is acting like Jesus. These are respectful ways of living but do not tell the whole story.
One popular philosophy during the early church years was something called gnosticism. I find Wikipedia’s definition of gnosticism telling.
“Gnostic ideas influenced many ancient religions that teach that gnosis may be reached by practicing philanthropy to the point of personal poverty, sexual abstinence and diligently searching for wisdom by helping others.”
For our young believers who have been reared in this morality of inclusion and diversity, they are particularly susceptible to the slippery slope of gnosticism. The very thing the Gospel writers worked so diligently to address! For we do not become anything more acceptable to the Lord by doing anything!
The answer to all of this? Jesus. Unashamed, outward, encounters with Jesus Himself. There is no substitute for a living, walking, breathing relationship with Jesus. One where He is known and you are known. Acting like Jesus and being known by Jesus are two very different things. Being known by Him is rooted in experience with Him, many times mystical.
My prayer for anyone reading this is today you would have an unimaginable experience with Jesus. That you would be floored by His presence. That these slippery slopes would be demolished in your life. That the haze of the world’s philosophy would not fool you.
Penning a devotional in 1957, E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India has incredible insight. He was addressing the inclusionist views swirling among mid- 20th century hinduism and while addressing maturity as a believer. Basically, Hindus were being introduced to Jesus and his teachings along side a million or so other gods. They acknowledged His teachings but denied His Deity. Jones’ words could not be more applicable today:
“We have spent the first two weeks in getting straight our starting point in the quest for maturity. For if this starting point is wrong, the ending point will be wrong. The starting point of the Christian faith is Jesus. As I said in another book:
You cannot say God till you have first said Jesus, for Jesus puts character-content into God; you cannot say Christ until you have first said Jesus, for Jesus puts character-content in Christ- the Jews had thought of Christ as a conquering Messiah; you cannot say the Holy Spirit until you have first said Jesus, for Jesus puts character-content into the Holy Spirit- a less than New Testament content was in “the Spirit of the Lord” in Old Testament; you cannot say “the Kingdom of God” until you first say Jesus, for Jesus puts character-content into the “Kingdom of God”- the Jews had the content of a Davidic kingdom in their conception of the Kingdom of God. ”
He goes on to write:
“You will be tempted in your quest for maturity to do what the Gnostics did- to bypass Jesus and turn to something that seems more intellectual, more modern, more in keeping with the times, more intellectually fashionable. And you will end where the Gnostics ended- in oblivion. Gnosticism has died- Jesus lives on. All the intellectual descendants of Gnosticism will also end in futility and oblivion. Everything not centered on Jesus is off the center– ec-ecentric.”
Jesus, help us to keep You in the center of our hearts and break open deep, long standing and mature relationship with us. We love You. Amen.