But Martha was distracted with much serving. – Luke 10: 40a (ESV) I was a boy scout for a brief time in my youth. I think I made it as far as First Class before eventually dropping out. I liked the camaraderie and the trips we used to take. Camping trips as learning experiences. I remember our winter trip to a lodge called “Fins Furs and Feathers” was always the highlight of the year. Sleigh riding down the mountainside or snowmobiling during the day and learning how to play chess with the Assistant Scout Masters in the evening. While the overall experience was positive, not everything was. I remember factions and favorites played out by the leadership. I remember one Assistant Scout Master in particular who confused the Boy Scouts with the army. Throughout it all, I never once felt however that anything we were involved with was religious in any way. Maybe the basis and foundation was rooted in Christian principles but as a kid, that was not conveyed to us. Unlike the Assemblies of God program for young men – the Royal Rangers – who make no bones about teaching Christ. I say this as a backdrop to the story today that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has now yielded to the worldly pressures to conform to their new paradigm of what is right and what is wrong by allowing openly gay scouts. They have drawn the line and will continue to not allow openly gay leaders but the legal writing is already on the wall. This decision will be a gateway decision and soon enough they will have to capitulate on that point as well. This backdrop provides a platform to openly discuss what so many in modern Christianity only view from the extremes. You either have a liberal form of Christianity that discards the Bible in favor of social relevance or you have the accusatory barbed wire Christianity that seeks to lay all the social ills upon one group or another. Neither is Biblically accurate and both miss the mark of what Christ has called us to do. Sin is sin and despite many attempts to rewrite the Bible, Scripture is clear on this point. The Bible also says to not call good that which is not. This is not said with any animosity or disdain. We all sin. We all fall short of the mark God has set forth. The reason the church has lost its moral footing in the world is that people see the hypocrisy when it comes to other sins, such as adultery. When three mega church pastors fall in a six month period from sexual sin – in one metropolitan area alone – it becomes more difficult to speak morally about anything. Remember, while the people in the world suffer from a spiritual blindness – their physical eyes see quite well. And what do they see? They see a church that is very judgmental towards them and provides a free pass for themselves. Hypocrisy remains the number one reason why people will not go to church. That is not on them beloved – it is on us. The key verse today is where God led me when I was considering writing something about this decision from BSA. The story of Mary and Martha is only five verses long but is so rich in theology. But the portion I quoted above is simple – Martha was distracted with much serving. That can easily describe the modern church today; can it not? We become so easily distracted from what we are called and commanded by Christ to do. Sometimes it seems as if we think we are supposed to bring the morality of Christianity to the lost and dying world instead of the love of Christ. Nobody needs religion beloved – they need Christ. Religion does not save anyone – only Christ can. Some might think I harp on the seeker friendly – purpose driven models of church growth too much but you have to realize two things. They represent the vast majority of churches today and they are doing immeasurable damage to the cause of Christ. For this topic we must realize that it is these models of church growth that reinforce and overly-focus on service to the church. It encourages the Martha within us all despite the fact that Jesus Himself said that Mary has chosen the better thing. I have seen people who are well intended church goers who confuse their Mary and Martha. Their service and their walk. If we are not careful, we can allow our Martha to be distracted with the serving at the cost of our relationship with Christ and what He has truly called us to do. To be salt and light to a dying world – not pepper and glitter (a Pastor Watsonism). To bring the love of Christ to people. Let us briefly look at what serving is and what serving is not. Jesus has not called us to be the morality police. It does not serve Christ to further alienate the very people He has called us to bring His Gospel to. Do I agree with the decision made by the BSA, no. Does it surprise me that a largely worldly organization that is firmly established in the world caved in to the demands of that world – no. It never ceases to amaze me when Christians get outraged that the world behaves like the world. They have their own set of beliefs. They believe in them as much as you and I believe ours. Telling them they are wrong is not going to sway their minds or win their hearts. It will only be a distraction. A distraction from the one things Christ did tell us we should do: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28: 18-20 (ESV) The Great Commission. I am not sure but sometimes I think Christians view the commands here out of order. There is a certain logic in the order in which Christ gives these commands. First we must go. We cannot just open a church door and deal with those that might find their way in. Christianity is an action verb. Then there are three very specific things Jesus tells us we are to do and they are presented in a logical order. We are to make disciples, baptize them, and THEN teach them to observe all that Jesus had taught. It seems too often that we want to approach the world with this order backwards. We want to first teach them to observe the teachings of a God they have not yet embraced! We want to yell at them for being such bad Christians when they are not even Christians yet to begin with! The things of God are still foolishness to them so what good is quoting Deuteronomy to them? The things of God are discerned spiritually - that means by the indwelt Holy Spirit. They do not have the Holy Spirit yet. Reverse the order! Preach the Gospel to bring them to the foot of the Cross. Once we are dealing with a disciple we must move onto baptism, where their old man is laid to rest. THEN, we can begin to teach them the spiritual things they need to learn. The Boy Scouts of America gave in to the pressures of a world that does not believe what we believe. Stamping our feet up and down will do nothing. Screaming out “sinner”, while we ourselves are steeped in sin will not accomplish anything. Just so we are all prepared, tomorrow the world will do something else which goes against something we believe or Jesus taught. Get over it. Move on. It is not serving Christ to alienate people. It is not serving Christ to bring them a moral code we ourselves could not hold to if not for the blood of Christ. God still does not want to see any perish but all to come to repentance. Get back to Mary. Get back to being found at the feet of Jesus. Get back to the Gospel. Only the Gospel has the power to break the yokes on people’s lives; whatever they may be. Rev. Anthony.