A church in Jacksonville, Florida has asked for a citywide ban on low-hanging pants and gold-capped teeth, saying they promote a thuggish image.
Changing the image of young people could help Jacksonville cut unemployment, racial profiling and a rising per-capita murder rate now the highest in the state, said Richard Burton, deacon of Epiphany Baptist Church.
The 250 member independent Baptist church approved the resolution last month.
I’m all for an end to some people putting an end to wearing low-rise pants. But sometimes churches focus on changing behavior. We can change externals, but changing externals isn’t what the Gospel is about.
What does the Gospel have to offer? Conviction, a way to respond to the conviction, and two gifts when we respond
1. Conviction (37)
37 – literally to be “stabbed with a knife”; deep anxiety and profound regret; the feeling that something is seriously wrong
A response to the Gospel message begins with understanding that things aren’t right between God and us.
“Then one afternoon in my dark bedroom, the cracks webbed all the way through me.” She found herself calling a pastor. She doubted God could love her, but he said, “God has to love you. That’s God’s job.” (Ann Lamott)
2. A way to respond to conviction (38a)
Conviction is not enough. Two responses:
Repentance is not basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no maps or street signs. It’s easy to get lost walking through the desert. You become aware that the countryside is strange. You finally say to yourself, I’m going in the wrong direction. That’s the first act of repentance.
The second act of repentance is to go in an alternate direction. It implies that you not only do this but you admit it to your companions. (Gordon MacDonald)
A change of direction in a person’s life; turning away from a sinful and godless life; “coming to our senses”
Commanded and yet impossible apart from God; a gift from God (repentance and faith two sides of a coin)
What do you do when you feel you need to respond? The outward sign of repentance
An acted-out prayer; baptism is calling on the name of the Lord
History of baptism: Purification (Jewish) to repentance (John) to pardon and freeing from the pollution and power of sin, and the beginning of a new life (Jesus)
Follows upon/virtually coincides with belief
Faith is possible without baptism, but baptism is the natural accompaniment and completion of faith
3. Two gifts when we respond (38b)
Forgiveness of sins
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4)
The Holy Spirit
The power that makes living the Christian life possible. We don’t have to live on our own power.