Freedom: When Religion Becomes Unreasonable – The Litmus Test
Way back before the digital revolution I learned in chemistry class one could do a check on the pH level of a solution using Litmus Paper. By dipping a slender piece of tape into the solution and observing the paper turn different colors would quickly tell me if the solution was acidic or alkaline and to what degree. The term “Litmus Test” found its way into our culture’s language and signifies the defining characteristic or position that indicates one’s political or social or religious credentials. Truly, a “Litmus Test” of one form or another has been a part of our Human discourse for thousands of generations.
Pastor Ed Kemp, fresh from his summer sojourn, launched the new sermon series, Freedom: When Religion Becomes Unreasonable. This exposition from the Epistle to the Galatians exposes the gritty and dark doctrinal underbelly of historic Christianity and, sadly, contemporary American Christianity. Too often a point of religiosity has become the Litmus Test differentiating between allegedly “true believers” and “lukewarm pretenders.” Those who failed the test were met with argument, ridicule, shunning, ostracism and demonization. Such practices have taken what Jesus died for, a personal relationship, and instead, created a “religion,” returning grace to the grave. As were the Galatian believers with the imposition of the circumcision litmus test, contemporary Christ-followers, likewise, have been subjected to tests based on music, clothing, political affiliation, inerrancy, abortion, gender issues, creation accounts and the list goes on. This is not to say some of these matters are insignificant, it is to say as Paul penned, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me.” Galatians 6:14 We must, therefore, ask ourselves, are we Christ-followers or the keepers of our religious constructs? Furthermore, how are we treating one another?
In the post-modern culture of today such wrangling forms the justification for ignoring Christians and even branding them as “haters.” We are accused of bashing people with the Bible, to them a book of lies and fictionalized accounts, and imposing our litmus tests of the “truth” and right living. To the post-modern culture the American Church has nothing of value, little to attract and much to repel the citizens of this world. What was it about the first century Church, unlike what is experienced today, that was so compelling that within a short time, historically speaking, the whole fabric of society was changed. It certainly was not the imposition of religious litmus tests such as circumcision. It was then and it is still the same now, Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected resulting in changed lives.
Paul, writing of the preeminence of Jesus, essentially said those who would say differently were to be accursed. GateWay, let us not be accursed; let us not major on the minors but let us always major on the only one worth pursuing. And let us connect with our culture under the new covenant of Jesus Christ which calls on us to not merely love our neighbor as ourselves but to love others as I, Jesus Christ, have loved you.