In my last article in this informal series, I mentioned that there are plenty more unhelpful and unbiblical things Christians say which are little more than a copout. That is certainly the case, and I could have a fulltime career in just writing these up.
So let me offer another five such sayings which we hear far too often. They sadly reflect a church which is not thinking, is not discerning, and is not carefully studying the Word of God. How else can we explain such howlers? Here then are my next five examples:
The great majority of times when a Christian throws this one around, it is simply to justify and defend sin in their life. We hear this constantly. If we seek in Christian love to point out sin, or urge others onto biblical holiness, or seek to warn against false doctrine and immoral behaviour, we will get this copout thrown our way.
It is not only a copout but it is entirely redundant. Of course no one is perfect. Try telling us something we don’t know. Only Jesus is perfect, and all that Christians can do is seek to become more and more like Christ. And Jesus did command us to aim for perfection (Matthew 5:48).
While we will not attain sinless perfection in this life, we are all urged to pursue holiness, sanctification, and maturity in Christ by the help of the Holy Spirit. But trying to make excuses for sin and sloth by means of this copout will do us no good whatsoever.
“We fight not against flesh and blood.”
I get this one all the time as well. Or some version of it, such as “Our battle is a spiritual battle.” Now these are references of course to Ephesians 6:12. And this is a perfectly true biblical teaching obviously. No one is denying for a moment that we are in a spiritual battle, and we need to pray like mad and engage in this spiritual warfare.
But nine times out of ten when someone throws this at me, they are doing so for a specific reason: they don’t like me engaging in the culture wars, or dealing in politics, or discussing hot potato social and moral issues. They think Christians should just be floating in the clouds, and not engaging with the actual world that we live in.
This is a pure copout in other words. We are commanded to be salt and light. We are commanded to get our hands dirty in this world as we proclaim truth, stand up for righteousness, and seek to be Christ’s ambassadors in a fallen world.
The simple truth is, the spiritual battles in the heavenlies of course manifest themselves in the political, social, cultural, ideological, legal and moral arenas. How could they not? We actually live on planet earth, so these are very real battles.
The answer is not to foolishly argue that we must choose one or the other. The biblical position is that we deal with both: we engage in prayer and spiritual warfare, but we also roll up our sleeves and get involved in the important battles of the day.
Just try telling someone like Wilberforce or Martin Luther King Jr that we are only to engage in prayer, and not actually put our faith into practice in the world we live in. That my friends is a copout.
“Love and law don’t mix.”
Whether it is the hyper grace crowd, or the emergent church folks, we hear this nonsense all the time. They present classic example of the fallacy of the false dilemma: you either love God, or keep a bunch of rules’. Um no, we are told to do both, simultaneously.
We are to love God and we are to keep his commandments. There is nothing antithetical about these things. To love God means we will keep his commandments, and as we obey God we show that we love him. Scripture is quite clear on this:
-John 14:15 If you love me, keep my commandments.
-John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
-John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.
-1 John 5:2-4 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
-2 John 1:6 And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.
And even more remarkable, we are even commanded to love God! Yes, love can be commanded. Have a look at just these three verses from Deuteronomy for example:
-Deuteronomy 11:1 Love the LORD your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always.
-Deuteronomy 11:13-14 And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.
-Deuteronomy 11:22-23 For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do – to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him – then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.
“Jesus was not involved in politics.”
Um, is this supposed to be some great revelation or something? Of course he wasn’t involved in politics. He was on a unique, one-off mission to save us from our sins. He had one purpose only, one divine purpose, which took him straight to the cross at Calvary. As we read in 1 Timothy 1:15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
That is why he came. He was a man on a mission: a single, focused and vital mission. Thus he did not get sidetracked with any number of good causes or important works. He did not get involved in politics, but he also did not become a worker in a synagogue, nor did he decide to stay at home and look after his parents as they aged.
There is plenty that he did not do. He did not march in a civil rights parade, nor did he join the Peace Corps, nor did he work at a soup kitchen, nor did he join a local bowling club, nor did he volunteer at an AIDS hospital. But just because he did not do any of these things does not mean we cannot do any of them.
Given that God created the institution of civil government, there is no reason why we should avoid it, either by directly working within it, or by using the political process for God’s glory, just as people like Wilberforce did. The Lordship of Christ should extend to every area, including the political sphere.
“You’re so negative.”
Just about any time I speak or write about the need for Christians to be holy and set apart for God, or warn of some serious error in the church, or alert others about a new threat to faith, family, and freedom, I invariably will get this one thrown at me.
This is largely because so many churches, pastors and teachers nowadays are pushing an unbiblical ‘just think happy thoughts’ sort of baloney. It is as if we should always be walking around with a big smiley face on, pretending there is no evil out there that must be faced, challenged and fought against.
These folks have been around for millennia. They of course always told the true prophets of God that they were too negative, preferring instead the false prophets who told them all the happy, cheery stuff that they wanted to hear. Jesus too preached a hard word of repentance, judgment and wrath to come, and for that he was crucified.
The disciples too never stopped warning people, rebuking people, challenging false doctrine, and condemning sinful behaviour. Yet most Christians today would say they were all just too negative. ‘We don’t want to hear any of this. We just want to keep on living our selfish lifestyles with no one interfering.’
And the social reformers like Wilberforce were also told that they were being too negative. ‘Why can’t you just talk about happy and cheerful things? Why do you have to concentrate on all this slavery stuff?’ It is a good thing he ignored these mindless critics. And countless millions of Blacks today would heartily agree.
Stay tuned for another round of really dumb Christian copouts.