Moving Beyond Coexistence
About the Guest
Maybe you've seen the popular bumper sticker, the one that urges people of different religions to "coexist"? Bumper-sticker theology can certainly seem appealing if you don't think about it too deeply. But pastor David Platt says that's exactly what every Christian must do: Learn to think deeply and move beyond coexistence into vital Christianity.
David PlattDavid Platt is deeply devoted to Christ and His Word. David's first love in ministry is making disciples-sharing, showing, and teaching God's Word in everyday life. He has traveled extensively to serve alongside church leaders throughout the United States and around the world. Beginning in 2006 David served as the pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Currently, David is the president of the International Mission Board (imb.org). He is the founder of Radical (radical.net...more
Maybe you’ve seen the popular bumper sticker that urges people of different religions to “coexist”? Pastor David Platt says that Christians must move beyond coexistence, into vital Christianity.
Moving Beyond Coexistence
Bob: There’s a lot of talk in our culture today about issues related to gender. David Platt says a lot of the reason for the confusion is because there are a lot of people confused about who it is that created us male and female.
David: We know that, in the beginning, God wasn’t just flipping a coin when He made man and woman—rolling the dice and saying, “Hey this would be kind of cool to bring them together in this way.” We know Ephesians 5 tells us that God designed marriage this way to be an illustration / a living picture of His love for His people in Christ.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, December 21st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from David Platt today about how we, as Christians, need to be thinking counter-culturally when it comes to marriage, family, gender, and sexuality. Stay tuned.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. Tell you what—our listeners are going to be challenged today. They’re going to be given a lot to think about because the guy that we’re going to be hearing from is somebody who challenges us every time we hear from him.
Dennis: David Platt is a good man, and he is a great preacher. He’s a voice, Bob—that is needed today because he’s kind of pulling us back to the basics of being Christ followers and being all-in on representing the work of God’s kingdom, here on earth.
Bob: Just before we hear from him, we had a little bit of an early Christmas gift that we heard about recently. Our listeners know that we have been asking them this month to join us in helping us meet a $2 million matching gift that has been presented to us, as a ministry. We’ve just learned that some additional funds have been added to that matching-gift challenge. Between now and the end of the year, we have the opportunity to match, two for one, any donation we receive, up to a total now of $5 million.
Dennis: Our commitment is to use this money to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and His blueprints for how folks build homes that are distinctively Christian in a culture that isn’t.
Dennis: How many organizations / how many ministries do you know of that are championing a biblical view of marriage and family and are equipping you and millions of others with that plan? How many other ministries are you aware of? The answer is—there aren’t many. In fact, there’s precious few.
Dennis: If you believe in what we’re doing, here on FamilyLife Today—helping people do marriage and family God’s way, according to the Bible / equipping them to do that—if you believe in that mission, now is the time for you to help us take full advantage of the opportunity that these families have made available—these matching funds. Stand with us as we stand with you for your marriage, and your family, and millions of others.
Bob: Again, every time you donate a dollar, these families will throw in two additional dollars to match the dollar that you’re donating. So would you consider making as generous a gift as possible today? Go to FamilyLifeToday.com—make your donation online. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make a yearend donation. Or you can mail your check to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
You talk about building a distinctively different Christian family—that’s really what David Platt is going to help us focus in on today. This is a message that was shared with our staff when David was here a few months ago. He is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board. He’s a well-known author and speaker. He spoke to our staff about the challenge of living counter-cultural lives in the 21st century.
David: You know what a unique time we live in—just the rapidly shifting moral landscape that we find ourselves in. When I look out at the church in this landscape, on one hand, I’m encouraged. I’m encouraged when I see evangelical Christians passionate about various social issues—like poverty and sex trafficking—issues that we should be passionate about / issues that the gospel compels us to be passionate about. What I’m concerned about though is when, many times, these same evangelical Christians are passionate about issues like that yet passive on other issues that are just as, if not more, important—like so-called same-sex marriage or abortion.
The gospel doesn’t give us the option of picking and choosing which social issues we’re going to address and which ones we’re going to ignore, based on what’s most comfortable or least costly to us in the culture around us. The reality is—if we address poverty and sex trafficking, the culture will applaud us. We need to address those things; but when we apply the gospel to marriage, and abortion, and similar issues, the culture will not applaud us. But the same gospel that compels us to combat poverty compels us to defend a marriage / the same gospel that compels us to war against sex trafficking compels us to address sexual immorality in all of its forms.
To pick and choose which social issues we’re going to address, based on what’s comfortable or least costly to us, actually misses the whole point of the gospel we claim to believe. It was Elizabeth Rundle Charles, commenting on Martin Luther’s key confrontation of social issues in his day:
Martin Luther: “If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that point which the world and the devil are, at that moment, attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity.
Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the solider is proven; and to be steady on all the battle fronts besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
As I prayed about these few minutes, the text that came to my mind is Acts, Chapter 17. It’s Paul at Mars Hill in Athens, boldly bringing the gospel to bear on the culture around him. As I thought about this text, there are two ways that I’m compelled to pray for you. One of them deals with the reason for what you do and the other one is a prayer for the result of how you work and all you do.
So let me give you the first one, and I’ll show it to you in the text:
May zeal for the glory of God be the reason for all your work. Let me show it to you in Acts 17—look at verse 16, “While Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.”
How many of you know the background on Athens?—the philosophical cultural center of Rome—city of beauty/brilliance—filled with all kinds of gods. Paul finds himself in this city; and verse 16 says he was “provoked.” Some translations say “stirred with holy anger”—a zeal that’s there. The question is: “Why? Why was he stirred like this?”
I think the answer is clear—
—it was Paul’s zeal for the glory of God that causes provocation in him. He knows Isaiah 42, verse 8—there is one God. All the other gods of the nations are idols, and they don’t deserve glory; only God deserves glory,—so he finds himself in a culture where he’s surrounded by all these idols, and he’s provoked to act. He can’t stay silent—verse 17 [through 21] says:
So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devote persons, and the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities,”— because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you’re presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time on nothing but telling or hearing something new.)
So Paul goes on to communicate the greatness and the glory of God—but that was his whole message—he gives just this glorious picture of God—as the Creator of the heavens, and the Ruler of the nations, and the One from whom we get life and breath and everything in us / who, not only created us, but sustains us on a moment-by-moment basis. He gives this glorious picture of God—this is what was driving him.
So we are not in Athens / we’re not at the Areopagus, but we live in a land that is filled with idols. When you look at the most pressing social issues around us, it is idolatry that is at the core of all of these social issues. When you see this issue of abortion and the way people view children, increasingly in our culture, is it not the idolization of convenience, and our plans, and our self-driven aims that causes people to disregard/murder children in the womb?
Is it not—when we look at the oppression of the poor and the weak—is it not our idolization of pleasures and possessions in this world that drives this? Even when you look at the core of sexuality in our culture, are we not engrossed in the idolization of sex itself?—however I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want—no matter what the costs / certainly, no matter what God says.
In a culture where we idolize possessions, and pleasures, and sex, and wealth, and comfort and convenience, may we be a people who are provoked for God to receive the glory that He’s due:
Why do we address issues like abortion? We address issues like abortion because we want God to be known as the Author of life, who creates and forms together children in the womb.
Why do we address issues when it comes to orphans and widows?—because we want God to be exalted as the Father to the fatherless, and Defender of the weak, and Defender of the widow.
Why do we address issues of marriage and sexuality?—because we want God to be exalted as the Definer and Designer of marriage and the One to whom we submit when it comes to this massively-important institution.
We want God to be glorified—this is what drives us. So more than anything, may you be provoked with zeal for the glory of God to drive every single detail of all that you do. That’s the reason—zeal for God’s glory.
And then second: May the spread of God’s gospel be the result of all your work—
—so may you do it, motivated by the glory of God, and may the fruit of your lives and ministry and your work be the spread of God’s gospel in the world.
This is exactly what Paul does—he’s preaching Jesus and the resurrection. He goes through the sermon—you get to the end of the chapter, and it says in verse 32, “When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked…”—so let us not be fooled into thinking that, when we preach the gospel / when we live for the spread of the gospel, that everyone will applaud us. Let us not be surprised. [Continuing to verse 34] “…but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”
Now, you probably wouldn’t call that massive revival; but let me tell you what we do know. In the century after this event—the church at Athens would give birth, in the Christian movement, to men like Publius, Quadratus, Aristides, and Athenagoras—
—many of whom have become martyrs for the gospel and would be a part of the spread of the gospel through their own blood. In the fourth century—the Christian schools in Athens produce great Christian thinkers like Basil and Gregory, who helped the church flesh out its theology. Only time and eternity can tell the effect of the conversion of a man named Dionysius and a woman named Damaris in Athens.
You don’t always see the immediate fruit right in front of you, but I want to encourage you—only time and eternity will tell the fruit of a body of people, who are giving their lives and their work, on a day-by-day basis, to build up the family / to build up marriage—an institution which, by its very design, is for the display of the gospel in the world. We know this—right?
We know that, in the beginning, God wasn’t just flipping a coin when He made man and woman—rolling the dice and saying, “Hey this would be kind of cool to bring them together in this way.”
We know Ephesians 5 tells us that God designed marriage this way to be an illustration/ a living picture of His love for His people in Christ—that in a husband’s love for a wife, we would see a picture of Christ’s love for His people. In a husband laying down his life to serve his wife, the world would see that Christ loves us like this. In a wife’s joyful glad submission to a husband’s loving leadership, the world would see that following Christ is not a begrudging submission to a domineering deity but glad submission that’s not about duty—that’s completely about delight. This picture that God has designed in marriage is for the display of the gospel in the world.
So it’s worth the cost, and the challenges, and even the confrontation in the culture around us—right?—
—because this is the design of God for the display of the gospel in the world. It’s worth it!
When you think about the spiritual darkness engulfing marriage and family in our day—all kinds of ways we’re trying to redefine what God has created—anything we come up with is not going to be as good as what He has designed. Therefore, the picture of—Christ’s love for the church and a husband’s love for his wife / and a wife’s love for her husband is a way that reflects the church’s love for Christ—you can’t get any better than that. That picture’s going to shine all the brighter in the landscape we live in today.
As you give yourselves to building up the family, may God bless that work—not just for the building up of the family—but for the spread of the gospel through what you do. This is, after all, the purpose of marriage / its mission—its display of God’s love to the world.
When you have two billion people in the world with little to no knowledge of the gospel—we, who have this gospel, must live to get that gospel to them. The concept of un-reached people—what is it going to take for that concept to be totally intolerable to us?—the fact that there are people, right now, on a road that leads to an eternal hell. They’re plunging into hell, and they’ve never ever heard how much God loves them in Christ—nobody’s even told them. That can’t continue.
But make the connection—marriage exists to fuel that kind of mission. This picture of the gospel in the world is badly needed, not just in our culture, but in cultures around the world. It’s when a man and a woman come together with that kind of resolve—yes, we want to love each other, and enjoy each other, and serve each other, and be served in this way that Scripture gives—we want to do it so that the world might see the gospel on display.
I was reminded of Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma—actually started—headed to India and the Lord rerouted him to Burma. I don’t know if you’ve ever read about Judson and his wives. I say his “wives” because he saw two wives lose their lives on the field. His first wife—when he was asking her dad for permission to marry her, this is the letter he wrote. So just imagine—those of you who have daughters—getting this letter from a prospective son-in-law:
I have now to ask whether you can consent to part with your daughter early next spring, to see her no more in this world. Whether you can consent to her departure to a heathen land and her subjection to the hardships and sufferings of a missionary life? Whether you can consent to her exposure to the dangers of the ocean; to the fatal influence of the southern climate of India; to every kind of want and distress; to degradation, insult, persecution, and perhaps a violent death?
Can you consent to all this for the sake of Him, who left His heavenly home and died for her and for you, for the sake of perishing immortal souls, for the sake of Zion and the glory of God? Can you consent to all this in hope of soon meeting your daughter in the world of glory, with a crown of righteousness brightened by the acclamations of praise which shall resound to her Savior from heathens saved, through her means, from eternal woe and despair?
I didn’t write that letter to mine. [Laughter] He said, “Yes,”—and so they made plans. They got engaged; and then while they were engaged, they were planning to go overseas. This is a letter he then wrote to her in the middle of their engagement—he wrote:
It is with utmost sincerity of my whole heart that I wish you, my love, a happy new year. (It was on January 1st.) May it be a year in which your walk will be close with God, your frame calm and serene, and the road that leads you to the Lamb marked with purer light.
May it be a year in which you have more largely the spirit of Christ, be raised above earthly things, and be willing to be disposed of in this world, just as God shall please. As every moment of the year will bring you nearer to the end of your pilgrimage, may it bring you nearer to God and find you more prepared to hail the messenger of death as a deliverer and a friend.
And now, since I have begun to wish, I will go on. May this be the year in which you will change your name; in which you will take a final leave of your relatives and native land; in which you will cross the wide ocean and dwell on the other side of the world, among a heathen people. What a great change this year will probably effect in our lives! How very different will be our situation and employment!
If our lives are preserved and our attempt prospered, we shall, next New Year’s Day, be in India, perhaps which each other—a happy new year in the uncouth dialect of Hindustan or Burma. We shall no more see our kind friends around us, or enjoy the conveniences of civilized life, or go to the house of God with those that keep holy day;
but swarthy countenances will everywhere meet our eye, and the jargon of an unknown tongue will assail our ears, and we shall witness the assembling of the heathen to celebrate the worship of idol gods.
We shall be weary of the world and wish for wings like a dove, that we may fly away and be at rest. We shall probably experience seasons when we shall be exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. We shall see many dreary, disconsolate hours, and feel a sinking of spirits, anguish of mind, of which we can now form little conception. O, we shall wish to lie down and die; (He wrote this!) [Laughter] and that time may soon come.
One of us may be unable to sustain the heat of the climate and the change of habits; and the other may say, with literal truth over the grave:
“By foreign hands, thy dying eyes were closed;
By foreign hands, thy decent limbs composed;
By foreign hands, thy humble grave adorned”;
but whether we shall be honored and mourned by strangers, God only knows. At least, either of us will be certain of one mourner.
You say, “Why do you share that?” I pray that, as you work for the building up of marriages and families in this culture, that the fruit of your work will be men and women, who in their marriages and families, will gladly spend their lives making this gospel known in other cultures—all toward the end that this gospel is made known among all the peoples of the earth. Our King / our God finally receives all the glory that He alone is due.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening today to David Platt, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, and a great reminder that, when we talk about marriage and family, it’s really with a bigger purpose in mind.
Dennis: It is. what you, as a listener, just need to be reminded of is—what the Apostle Paul reminds all of us of and that is—you are an ambassador for the King of kings/Lord of lords. Your home is an embassy—it is an embassy representing His work on planet earth. You need to be representing Christ in your marriage, in your family, and training your children to do the same. If they’re grown / if they’re adult children, pray for them—pray for your grandchildren—that they will take this message that David was talking about and that they would faithfully proclaim it to their generation.
Bob: Well; and if you haven’t read David’s new book called Counter Culture. This would be a book for—really, if you have teenagers, to read through a chapter of this book at a time, as a family, and to talk about what he’s saying here—I think would be really helpful for moms and dads who are raising teenagers in this culture. The title of David’s book, again, is Counter Culture. It’s a book that we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
You can go online at FamilyLIfeToday.com to request a copy. Or you can call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” and ask about the book, Counter Culture, by David Platt. We’ll get a copy sent out to you.
Real quickly—a reminder to what Dennis was talking about at the beginning of today’s program. Some of you have heard about the matching-gift opportunity that has been provided for us, here at FamilyLife. Well, in recent days, that matching-gift fund has seen an increase. So we’re asking listeners: “Would you consider making a generous yearend contribution to FamilyLife Today, knowing that, whatever donation you make / whatever dollar you give, it’s going to be matched with two dollars from the matching-gift fund?” The total of that matching-gift fund has now increased to $5 million.
So, if you can be as generous as possible and make a donation today, we would appreciate it. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com—make your donation online.
Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—make your donation over the phone. Or mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk to those of you who are grandmothers or grandmothers-to-be about how you can stay connected with your grandchildren and have a powerful ministry in their lives. That comes up tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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