The Gospel for the City in Genesis 35

In chapter 35, the Lord instructs Jacob to return to the place where Abraham had built and altar and where he had made a vow to the Lord after he had been assured by the Lord that the promise to Abraham belonged to him and his descendants.  Jacob returns with a serious commitment to shun idolatry and to worship the Lord. He is keeping the vow he made at Bethel that if the Lord brought him back in peace, then the Lord would be his God and he would honor Him as Lord by giving one tenth of all he possesses.

Once again, the Lord reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob, blesses him, and changes his name to Israel – the prince of God. Jacob consecrates a memorial at Bethel to mark this occasion.

He moves on as the bearer of the covenant promise. Yet he does so in the midst of the vicissitudes of life. One of Rachel’s nurses dies. His beloved wife also Rachel dies while giving birth to Benjamin. He experiences the joy of being reunited with his father and brother, but soon experiences sorrow in the death of his father, Isaac.

God is faithful to his promise to Abraham that He would bless his offspring and bring them to the land of promises. Yet, the story reminds us that every bearer of the promise eventually dies. We are left looking for One who will bear the promise and never die. Surprising when he finally comes, he does die, but in a grand reversal, He rises from the dead so that the promise to Abraham will live on forever.

New communities of covenant believers in urban centers often become Bethel-like experiences to many who have been running from God, chasing the wind, seeking to satisfy the idols of their hearts. Here you find many young people from Christian backgrounds who, like Jacob, seek to make their own way in life with only a marginal recognition of God. They come to cities lured by the hope that the emptiness of their souls can be filled by the many promises of urban life.

Often there is an initial encounter with the call of Christ, interrupted by the difficult challenges of life, and then followed by a renewed call to return to a place of renewed allegiance, forsaking idolatry and worshipping Christ alone. 

For many who have struggled on their spiritual journey through broken relationships, disappointments, and betrayals, these gospel-centered city churches become their ‘Bethel,’ the place where they grasp the gospel, meet the Lord, and choose to worship and serve Him. Though they continue to struggle through the vicissitudes of life, they do so as those who now are recipients of God’s gracious promise in Christ.

Being Conservative or Liberal under the Lordship of Christ

I choose to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is my joyful response to His saving grace. Though I would be described as a political conservative, I hold supreme allegiance to Christ and the authority of His Word.  I hold ‘qualified’ allegiance to ‘conservative’ values and will always evaluate those values by the Word of God.  All humans are fallible; all political parties are fallible; all religious institutions are fallible; all news reporting is fallible. I denounce and disassociate from any conservative views and voices that I view as in conflict with Scripture.

Regardless of where conservatives may be, I will never agree with the legitimacy of same-sex marriage (an oxymoron) or same-sex sexual relationships or any sexual relationships outside of heterosexual marriage. I will always call them sin. I will never agree with the governmental forced redistribution of wealth. Though governments have a biblical right to a legitimate tax, they have no biblical right to confiscate honest wealth and to play Robin Hood. I will never agree with the use of lethal force and power simply for economic or personal gain, though I do accept the divine responsibility of the government to use lethal force in order to protect life. I will never agree with democracy (the majority rules), when democracy conflicts with the law of God.  An evil majority is still evil. I will never agree with hateful, vile language and actions that seek to diminish the life of any human being. I will never agree with abortion.

These are six of my basic convictions regarding public issues, two of which are inferences from biblical principles, while four are the unequivocal teaching of Scripture (as I see it). I’ll leave you to figure out that breakdown.

I have Christian friends, good friends, and acquaintances who espouse a much more liberal view of government and politics. Some of them hold strong allegiance to the Democratic Party. I love them and continue to enjoy our fellowship in Christ. I think many of their political views are wrong, but they also think the same of me.

However, if we both live under the Lordship of Christ and the authority of Scripture, then we both, whether liberal or conservative, should denounce and disassociate from those views and voices within any movement that clearly are in conflict with Scripture.

Living under the Lordship of Christ, we know that there is such a thing as truth and error, right and wrong, black and white, good and bad.

20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isa. 5:20 ESV)

May we have the biblical insight to identify evil in both liberal and conservative movements, and may we have the courage to speak out against all that is contrary to the Lordship of Christ. Neither Donald nor Hillary is Jesus. Neither the Republican nor Democrat Party is the Kingdom of God.

Actually, we who live under the Lordship of Christ, whether liberal or conservative, should agree on many current issues in our society. We denounce evil, vile, hateful speech and acts. We denounce abortion. We denounce sex outside of heterosexual marriage. We denounce the use of power to oppress others. We denounce protesters who commit criminal acts, whose language is vile and disgraceful, whose hatred is base and violent. We denounce the diminishing of any human being, whether by lies, or defamation of character, or crude speech, or racism, or classism, or biased reporting.

More importantly, we agree on many things of ultimate importance. We agree that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. He alone is the Sovereign King. We agree that ‘there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” We agree that He is Truth and that His Word is Truth. We agree that the only reliable, infallible authority we have is the Bible. We believe that Christ calls us to a unique love for other believers and a powerful love that reaches out even to our enemies. We agree that the deepest problems of humanity can only be solved by the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the weapons of our warfare against evil are nor the weapons of this world.

Our unqualified allegiance is to King Jesus and His Word, not to a political party, not to any politician, not to the majority or minority, and not to any philosophy of life.