July 10, 2016 by

Divine Cafeteria

Exodus 20:1

We are the refugee from Cambodia that’s what we are called here. The people of Cambodia call us the go away people or the immigrant. When I got US citizenship they call me here Cambodian American and I like it because I also like to be a Khmer. I was a Buddhist and I became Christian and if they call me a Buddhist Christian I may not like it because I am not a Buddhist anymore. But I know many Cambodian may like it because they don’t understand what a Christian is?

Many years ago Newsweek magazine published an article by Lisa Miller with the provocative title We Are All Hindus Nowwho believe there are many paths to God. Just as there are many ways to climb a mountain, each religion offers its own way to God. None is better than any other. It begins this way:

America is not a Christian nation. We are, it is true, a nation founded by Christians. Of course, we are not a Hindu–or Muslim, or Jewish, or Catholic nation, either. A million-plus Hindus live in the United States, a fraction of the billion who live on Earth. But recent poll data show that conceptually, at least, we are slowly becoming more like Hindus and less like traditional Christians in the ways we think about God, our selves, each other, and eternity.

Are we all Hindus now?

Maybe we are. Let’s take a simple test and figure out the answer. How many of the Ten Commandments can you name? Suppose someone offered you $20,000 to name the Ten Commandments in 20 seconds, could you do it?

Khmers Know Prahok Ktis

Most Khmers can name the four ingredients of a Prahok Ktis but few of them can name the five precepts of Buddhism. Americans know hamburgers, but they’re shaky about the Ten Commandments.

Maybe that’s why we are all becoming Hindus now. Not knowing what God has said, we feel perfectly free to revise his Commandments to fit our 21st-century worldview.

 

I.                  God Did Not Stutter

And that thought brings me to what I regard as the most important part of the Ten Commandments as given in Exodus 20. I’m referring to the way the passage begins. This is Exodus 20:1.

 "And God spoke all these words."

In our attempt to get down to the “good stuff,” we rush right over these words we flip past the title page to get to the first chapter. But that’s a crucial mistake because these words tell who is speaking.

 “God spoke all these words.”

Who is speaking here?  God!
What did he say?  “All these words." 
So where do the Ten Commandments come from?  God!

These are not “Ten Suggestions for Your Best Life Now” or “Ten Ways You Should Consider” or “Ten Habits of Highly Successful People” or “Ten Ways to Climb the Ladder” or “Ten Ideas That Might Work For You.” No! 

God spoke all these words-therefore they have lasting moral authority.
God spoke all these words-therefore we must take all of them with utter seriousness.
God spoke all these words-therefore we must give these words our primary attention.

God has spoken and he did not stutter! If you think about it, this is a profound and even radical claim. We believe that God has spoken to us in the Bible, and he spoke in such a way that we can know what he says.

Illustration: I had one student in my Cultural Orientation class in Galang refugee camp in Indonesia and he was also a happy Muslim. He was cheerful and friendly and very talkative as he explained that, really, there is no difference between Christianity and Islam. “We all believe in the same God,” he said. “So what is the difference?” he said, asking me.

But I decided to let him answer that question. “We believe in Jesus too.” But Mohammad is God’s prophet, he said. And Allah made everything. “We believe in God because he made everything.

I explained to him, “We believe Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the dead.” “Jesus really is the difference.” He smiled and agreed and walked away. Jesus really is the difference.

Are we all Hindus? No, and we’re not Muslims either. We are Christians who believe in the lordship of Jesus Christ.

 

II.               Divine Cafeteria

Stephen Prothero, a religion professor at Boston University, points to American pragmatism:

It’s about whatever works. If going to yoga works, great; and if going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great, too.

More and more Americans, including a healthy chunk of evangelicals, take a “Divine Cafeteria” approach to their faith. We pick and choose what we want to believe. “Hmmm. I’ll take a serving of God’s love, but I think I’ll skip the part about hell and judgment. Give me a small serving of church and a big helping of ‘Make Me Happy’ for dessert.”

Many Christians have suffered a loss of nerve because we aren’t really sure about what we believe. And under the enormous pressure to “go along to get along,” little by little we’ve backed away from the hard edges of the Christian faith. Inside each church we have members who are more Hindu than Christian.

We’ve got Baptist Hindus. 
We’ve got Methodist Hindus.
We’ve got Nazarene Hindus.
We’ve got Presbyterian Hindus.

These folks come to church, sing the songs, pray the prayers, give their money, and sometimes they serve in leadership position, all the while believing on the inside that there really are many ways to God. In the 1950s the noted theologian Richard Neibuhr summarized liberal Protestant theology in words that seem as true today as they were a half-century ago:

A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.

The only real solution is to teach the truth of God to fortify the souls of our people and make them strong once again.

To believe in God is to believe in something that is supernatural. To believe in creation over evolution is to believe in something that is supernatural. To believe in angels, demons, heaven, hell, and the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, is to touch that which is supernatural in its essence. We as Christians must reassert the supernatural basis of the Christian faith. It is not enough simply to say that we are Christians. It is not enough to say that we hold certain doctrines.  We must proclaim the supernatural foundation of the Christian faith. That’s important because if you remove the supernatural from Christianity, you have gutted our faith and turned it into nothing but a set of ethical instructions.

 

III.            All Truth Is Narrow

Over and over again Jesus called people into a personal confrontation with the truth he was proclaiming.  In John 14:6 Jesus said, “I am the truth." In John 17:17 he said, “Your word is truth.” In John 18:37, standing before Pilate, he said these words, “I came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Everyone on the side of the truth listens to me.” Pilate responded in the words of a true first century relativist, “What is truth?”  What a question to ask when the truth was standing in front of him!

We need once again to hear these words from Psalm 119:142“Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.” Verse 151 says, “You are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true.” Verse 160 says, “All your words are true.” That leads me to make a very important point that I will come back to over and over again.

All truth is narrow. Two plus two equals four, not 17. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, not Burma. A pentagon has five sides. Angkor Wat has 5 towers. Sixty seconds equals exactly one minute.

All truth is narrow. If something is true, then many other things must not be true. If everything is true, then nothing is true. If truth depends on your opinion or on the latest Gallup poll, we can never know the truth about anything. That is why Christians insist on the concept of absolute truth. Without it, we have no faith to believe, only some warm, fuzzy sentimental feelings in our heart. That is not enough. We need to reassert once again to this crazy, mixed-up, confused generation exactly what the Psalmist said regarding God, “All your words are true.”

 

IV.           Truth Demands a Commitment

I know people commit to thing they believe. When they believe on Lotto the Lotto organization get more money. When they believe on casino the casino owner get richer. When they believe on prosperity preachers those preachers become multimillionaire. 

But if you are not sure about what you believe, that’s okay. You don’t have to believe on the basis of what I say. You may have some doubts about certain aspects of the Christian faith. You may even be a Christian, a member of a church, and have serious doubts about some of the things we believe. Doubt is not a sin. The only sin is refusing the search for the truth. So the best thing we can do for non-Christians is to share what we believe and why we believe it.

Truth always demands a commitment.  Jesus said to Pilate, “Everybody on the side of truth listens to me.” Are you on the side of truth? It is not enough to intellectually say there might have been somebody like Jesus 2000 years ago. That is not enough. If you just say that and stop, you are not on the side of truth. You are just giving intellectual assent to certain propositions.

There are only three things you can do with the truth:

1) You can deny it. 
2) You can ignore it. 
3) You can believe it.

Those are your only options. So I ask you, what have you done with the truth about Jesus Christ? What have you done with the truth about the Bible? What have you done with the truth about salvation? I am sure you have heard of blind faith. God never asked anyone for blind faith. You have heard of a leap into the darkness. Faith in Jesus Christ is not a leap into the darkness

 

Conclusion

 

Christian faith is standing on God’s truth and leaping from the darkness into the light. You may be in the darkness now, but there is light on the other side and it is not far away. You will never know until you take that first step. The next move is up to you.

Posted in: Sermon and teaching