Elegantly poised on the edge of the rippling water, the scene was a familiar summer fun selection. Would the next move be a smooth and sleek dive in with barely a ripple to follow? Would he take a few dramatic steps away from the water and jump high, holding his legs and “power bombing” those in the cool water as well as those sunning themselves at poolside? Neither. Full of promise he leaped toward the pool but miscalculated the effect those watching had on him. His elegance was transformed into a painful “belly flop”. Some who stood by groaned, as the heard the body strike the water. No one enjoyed the sound or the appearance of pain…
Key Principle: God revealed that blessing follows inner surrender to Him. When we become distracted by this world, we settle for outer appearances. The choice to be distracted by the world in our pursuit of following God leads to disaster.
There are Seven Steps to Compromise our Call:
1. Ignore God’s Word (9:3-9). God made promises, Solomon looked elsewhere…
In the year A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued a decree that he hoped would extinguish the spreading flames of Christianity. One of his primary objectives was the seizure and destruction of the Christian Scriptures. Later that year, officials enforced the decree in North Africa. One of the targets was Felix, the Bishop of Tibjuca, a village near Carthage. The Roman authorities ordered Felix to hand over his Scriptures. Though some governors were willing to accept scraps of parchment, Felix refused to surrender the Word of God at the insistence of mere men. Resolutely, he resisted compromise before the proconsul at Carthage. Felix paid for his perseverance with his life. On July 15, he laid down his life – as the record puts it, “with pious obstinacy,” rather than surrender his scriptures.
2. Become Dependent on the World’s Goods for Affirmation (9:10-14) – Compromise Your Source of Affirmation! “Compromise is but the sacrifice of one right or good in the hope of attaining another – too often ending in the loss of both. Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer.”- Merrit Malloy
3. Adopt the World’s Answers for Success (9:15, 20-21).
4. Make Alliances the World’s Way (9:16-18,24).
Religious tolerance is not always a sign of good will. It can be a sign of careless, perhaps hypocritical religious indifference of the most high-handed philosophic relativism. It can also be a mask behind which to hide downright malice. During the Nazi era, for example, arguments for Christian openness to other perspectives were used by German Christians in an attempt to neuter the church’s protest against the neo-paganism of Hitler and his minions. The Confessing Church in Germany found in John 10 a theological basis to stand against Hitler. There are times in which the only way to keep alive the non-vindictive, nonjudgmental, self-sacrificing witness of Jesus Christ is to stand with rude dogmatism on the rock that is Jesus Christ, condemning all compromise as the work of the Antichrist. SOURCE: Ronald Goetz in “Exclusivistic Universality” (Christian Century, April 21, 1993). “If our language has appeared to some strong and severe, or even intemperate, let the gentlemen pause for a moment and reflect on the importance and gravity of the subject… We had to deal with human life. In a matter of this importance we could entertain no compromise.” The American Medical Association, 1981, in a report opposing abortion. Quoted in Marvin Olasky’s The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988.
5. Focus on Personal Pleasure (9:19).
Chuck Swindoll said, “The swift wind of compromise is a lot more devastating than the sudden jolt of misfortune.” IT’S LIKE THE LITTLE BOY WHO PRAYED ONE NIGHT BEFORE HE WENT TO BED, “DEAR GOD, MAKE ME GOOD BUT NOT TOO GOOD, JUST GOOD ENOUGH SO I DON’T GET A WHIPPING” (sermon central illustrations)
6. Draw in Others Who Follow You (9:22-23).
The AD agency Young & Rubicam claim brands have replaced religious faith in giving meaning to people’s lives. The ad agency says that successful ’belief brands,’ such as Calvin Klein, Microsoft and Nike, work because they have fun and refuse to compromise their core beliefs. (The Net Economy 3/19/01) Author Stephen Covey believes that about 90 or so years ago our society and culture began to be more concerned with, (and I am paraphrasing Covey here) a ‘winning personality’ rather than a ‘winning character.’
7. Keep the Religious Front Working (9:25).
The story is told that John Wesley, a founder of Methodism, changed his view about church division after a dream in which he was first transported to the gates of Hell. He asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “Yes,” was the reply. “Any Roman Catholics?” “Yes.” “Any Congregationalists?” “Yes.” He hesitated, then said, “Not any Methodists, I hope!” To his dismay the answer was “Yes.” Suddenly in his dream he stood at the gate of Heaven. Once again he asked, “Are there any Presbyterians here?” “No,” was the reply. “Any Roman Catholics?” “No.” “Any Congregationalists?” “No.” Then he asked the question which most interested him: “Are there any Methodists here?” He was shocked to receive the same stern reply, “No!” “Well then,” he asked in surprise, “please tell me who IS in Heaven?” “CHRISTIANS!” was the jubilant answer. It is not your brand that gets you in – but your heart commitment to Jesus! (sermon central illustrations).
The problem is not that we flop, it is that we flop while pretending to ourselves and those around us that we made an elegant dive. We are in pain, but we don’t show it, because that would be embarrassing. We hide, and hurt alone – simply because we won’t walk in our call. The choice to be distracted by the world leads us to disaster.