From the Pastor's Pen

April 2021

 From the Pastor’s Pen . . .

Redemption. Surely this is among the most beautiful words in the English language, for it is a word of hope, of possibility, of life. Similarly, the reality of redemption is at the very heart of the Christian faith, and among the most fundamental, foundational truths comprised by a biblical worldview. Redemption is the reason Jesus Christ laid aside the prerogatives of His deity to live as a man among men. Redemption is the reason He suffered the indignities of being judged, mocked, and rejected by the very ones He came to redeem. Redemption is the reason He endured the horrors of crucifixion. Redemption is the reason He bore the stench of our sin in His own soul. Redemption is the reason He took the sting of death in our stead. Redemption is the reason He was sealed in a cold lifeless tomb. And redemption is the reason He rose from the dead on the third day, once and for defeating all sin, death, and the grave!

Without the reality of redemption, there is no Christianity. Without the reality of redemption, there is no hope, no joy, no peace. There is a place where no possibility of redemption exists. It is a place of deepest regret. It is a place where suffering reigns. It is a place of no mercy, joy, or peace. And perhaps worst of all, it is a place where there is no hope. There’s a name for such a place. It’s called Hell.

We are all aware of the movement of late referred to as the “cancel culture.” Like most movements, it resists precise, concise definition. For our purposes here, however, we might describe it as the aggressive attempt to remove from the public stage any person, institution, or idea that does not promote the so-called “progressive” agenda. It manifests itself in the tearing down of statues, defacing memorials, renaming schools and military bases, and defaming individuals (both living and dead) that do not represent the ideals of the “woke.” Most folks reading this will instinctively sense the dangers inherent in the cancel culture. One does not need to hold an advanced degree in civics, history, or philosophy to realize that there is something very wrong and detrimental to the future of a society that forgets from whence it came. The old adage that “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it” is as true today as ever. But cancel culture would have us wipe the past from our collective national memory. (As I have noted before, this is directly out of the playbook of Marx and Engels. Their way to destabilize a society to prepare for revolution is to eliminate the common history and values shared by a people, effectively fragmenting them and leaving them vulnerable to having a new organizing principle, Marxism, imposed upon them.) Perhaps even worse is that cancel culture will entertain no ideas that conflict with its own in public discourse. This is unfortunate. If progressive, “woke,” ideas have value, they will only be proved stronger when tested; if they are flawed (and they are!) the weaknesses and failures of such notions will be exposed when confronted with truth. Cancel culture means that ideas can only be tested in the crucible of reality—at the expense of untold lives, dollars, and failures.

As dangerous and dreadful as these consequences may be, they are not the most tragic of the cancel culture. The greatest tragedy of cancel culture is that it leaves no room for redemption, either in the human sense or the divine. No possibility of making up for the wrongs of the past, whether recent or distant. No possibility of learning from past errors and sins. No reason to expect that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. Where there is no possibility of redemption, there exists only a world where there is no hope, no joy, no peace. Whether we are speaking of an eternal state, nation, municipality, or household, any place that denies the possibility of redemption has a name. It’s called Hell.

Sadly, by every natural metric the cancel culture appears to be winning. It seems that the only defense against being canceled these days is capitulation (not an option, in my view) or obscurity. If one can stay sufficiently out of the public eye, under the radar of the left, that person or organization just might escape the wrath of the woke. But there are no guarantees. Is the illusion of safety really worth being driven underground? I think not.

Against this backdrop of doom and gloom, however, there is hope. That Christ is risen from the dead is an irrefutable fact of history that cannot be canceled (try though they will). And within the heart of every human being is a deep longing for a life that is filled with hope, with joy, and with peace. The message of redemption in Jesus Christ is as real and relevant and longed for today as ever. Christian, let us not be driven underground. Church, let us fulfill our Great Commission. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against us! (Matt. 16:18)

Pastor Mark