By Ruth Ann Replogle, Columnist
Enid News and Eagle
“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” — Joshua 24:15
In this passage, Joshua was challenging the Israelites to make a deliberate choice as who was most important in their lives. He wanted them to actively bear witness, to engage themselves in serving the Lord, to commit to the Great I Am.
Have you made a conscientious decision to serve the Lord?
I’ve previously quoted Kyle Idleman’s book “not a fan” and I’m going to again today. He points out in the second chapter there is a humongous difference between believing in Jesus and following Jesus. Idleman goes on in chapter seven by asking “Does your life reflect what you say you believe?” “Your feelings aren’t faith until they are expressed,” he writes. “A belief, no matter how sincere, if not reflected in reality isn’t a belief, it’s a delusion.”
Serving the Lord requires active participation and expression. That doesn’t mean you get a free pass to heaven because you are “serving the Lord” by attending church regularly, wearing Christian T-shirts, talking about Him or even teaching a Bible study. Your life has to be Jesus, the verb. (Matthew 25:31-46)
Last year about this time, I was debating whether to address in my column the controversy swirling around Chick-fil-A’s owner and a statement he made regarding gay marriage.
Normally I like to keep a low profile when it comes to so-called hot- button topics, because I abhor discussing politics or religious doctrine.
I’m a firm believer we each have our own personal convictions when it comes to hotly contested issues, and that’s where it should remain, personal. Whereas the Lord might command me to stay away from rated-R films, He may not have impressed you to do the same.
But I can’t stay quiet a minute longer after a recent report about Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, USAF, and his refusal to agree with his openly lesbian commander on gay marriage. He was relieved of duty after 19 years of service because he wouldn’t validate her stance on the matter.
I was shocked when my husband first told me this story he had heard on Fox News. I was just sure there must be more to it and was floored when I discovered there wasn’t.
Monk’s attorney described the situation as a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for Christians, and I quote: “Here’s a guy who wants to have his religious liberty and serve in the military. He shouldn’t have to believe in gay marriage in order to serve.”
Monk himself said, “The narrative is that you cannot say anything that contradicts Air Force policy.” In essence, he said, Christians are trading places with homosexuals. “Christians have to go into the closet. We are being robbed of our dignity and respect. We can’t be who we are.”
What we are being robbed is our freedom to have views and the right to not be called intolerant, ignorant or bigoted because we disagree.
Apparently, the First Amendment no longer applies to you and me as Christians. (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”)
That said, we shouldn’t be surprised when stories like this arise. Jesus was wildly unpopular in His day for being outspoken and He did say I would have to endure the same for following Him.
You and I cannot serve two masters. It is impossible. So either you are for God or you are not for Him. And if you are not for Him, you are for Satan, plain and simple.
Paul made it pretty clear in Galatians 1:10 that as a Christian, you can’t have it both ways: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Elijah referenced it, too, in 1 Kings 18:21: “‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’”
If you are for God, then your life must reflect Him inside and out. There is no riding the fence with Him because you don’t want to offend, no hiding your light because you’re embarrassed what others will think. He wants our all or nothing at all. SMSgt. Monk decided to take a stand, at the risk of his career, because he wanted to be a godly example for his three teenage sons.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” — Romans 1:16
You can read the full story about SMSgt Monk at http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/ top-stories/airmen-punished-for-objecting-to-gay-marriage.html.