Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
On November 13 I preached a sermon on Euthanasia as we believe life is sacred from conception to natural death. More and more this issue will be less theoretical and personal and practical. How can we minister to those contemplated or booked for medically assisted suicide. Below is a suggested approach/guide.
*A Christian guide in witnessing to persons considering MAiD.
Prayer before you go, while you go, after you go. Use God’s Word. Be humble and respectful. Be bold. Be supportive.
As of 2019 (expanded in 2021) MAiD is legal in Canada.
Convince them of your sympathy; listen to them. Those who contemplate or choose MAiD are hurting in body, mind and/or soul. We must show compassion and have a discerning ear to discover how to best speak into their situation (Mt 9:36; Prov 18:13, 20:5).
Convince them of God’s value of life: that being created in the “image of God” every person has value and that since God is the author and giver of life it is precious (Gen 1:26, 2:7). Tell a better story.
Convict them that taking one’s life is not God’s plan; it is immoral. Every Biblical example of suicide is negative (e.g. King Saul and Judas) and murder is prohibited (6th Commandment, Ex 20:13). To take one’s life or seek help in this, no matter how difficult, is to despise the gift of life that God has given and take for yourself what is rightfully God’s: to decide your days (Dt 32:39). Rather than trusting God as Creator, Judge and King, MAiD makes the self god as we decide life and death, right and wrong and what is best or may or may not be possible for the future.
Comfort them that despite our suffering there is a better way. While God is the giver of life, as a consequence of our sin and rebellion against God [including the desire to take one’s life] (Ro 6:23a) we’re all spiritually dead and physically dying. Without God we’re eternally lost to hell (Mt 10:28). Taking your life won’t solve your pain and suffering, it will add to it.
But God has given us a free gift by sending His Son so we might be forgiven and find new life (Ro 6:23b). When we repent and trust in Jesus we become at peace with God and are given the Helper, the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:7). Sympathizing with us in our weakness (Heb 4:15) His presence will help us live for God and others amidst our suffering and not for self alone. He will bring joy in the midst of our present suffering and assure us of the hope of eternal life free from suffering that awaits the believer (Rev 21:4).
God does not want person X to die but to find eternal life in Jesus (Jn 3:16). Offer an invitation for them to respond to the Gospel, to pray with them, to leave information, to speak further. Also, many considering MAiD do not believe they have other options, are lonely and want support networks. Offer to help them make alternative plans, seek to meet their most pressing needs while they consider what you have said.
So convince, convict and comfort.
In a recent blog I noted statistics regarding the visible decline of Christianity in Canada. This raises the question, ‘What Happened to Christian Canada?’
In a book by this title historian Mark Noll reached the conclusion that we exchanged a Christian vision of Canada for a multi-cultural one. This is true. Canada was a bi-lingual, Anglo-European, Protestant-Catholic nation. Our identity, while different (and sometimes divided), was also one in heritage. While multi-culturalism (language, ethnicity, religion, etc) is not all of itself wrong, this new vision for Canada was an intentional subversion of the existing Christian vision by cultural Marxism (e.g. the thoughts of Antonio Gramsci [1891–1937]). Christian values were assaulted and a Christian vision was replaced by a vision that divided, and accelerated by individualism, made Canada far easier to control to ideological ends.
While Noll is correct, his social theory is not the whole story as he alludes in his conclusion.
One must recognize that even at its height all of Canada was never truly Christian, there was much nominalism, of people buying into the Christian vision or attending church culturally but not truly and spiritually. One must believe the Gospel to be a Christian.
Still, many denominations faithfully preached the Gospel and so it could be assumed that many Canadians truly were Christian. However, with the arrival of theological liberalism in Canada (which accelerated in the 1920s), countless Canadian denominations, pulpits and churches became arid wastelands that gave the appearance of Christianity yet without Christ. Long before an assault from without can an attack from within. William Booth of the Salvation Army foresaw this shift in the 1800s when he said of the 20th Century:
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
If truth is not presented it cannot be trusted and it therefore does not transform.
There is nothing less attractive than nominal Christianity, no meaning, no joy, no fruit of faith, no substance. As more and more Canadians became nominal Christians is it any wonder ‘Christianity’ was spit out? Like the story of the Return of the Unclean Spirit in Mt 12:43–45 Canadians spit out nominal Christianity only to embrace other isms far worse than the first.
People began to look to the old worldly isms of materialism, commercialism and individualism in increasing degrees. (A corporatism in Christian Canada gave way to the extreme individualism of today).
Christianity was also beset by other isms such as Darwinism, Communism, atheism, the Sexual Revolution and post-Modernism. (It is interesting to note how a decline in the number of children necessitated an immigration policy that supported multi-culturalism).
While the full answer is even more complex than this some major contributors to the decline of Christian Canada were recasting our identity (cultural-Marxism), liberalism, nominalism along with various other isms.
No doubt some genuine Christians of the past bear spiritual and social responsibility for allowing us to drift away from orthodoxy and slip into nominalism as a nation, thus allowing this shift to take place (a giant can only be toppled if it blindly believes itself unstoppable).
The faithful remnant in Canada (e.g. the Church), now often bolstered by new Canadians who are already Christian, must rise to be the vanguard of society’s wellbeing (salt and light, Mt 5), do honour to our Christian heritage and offer a bright hope and alternative vision for the future. However, this will not be done through worldly means (2 Cor 10:4) but by the faithful preaching of the Gospel and lives lived to the glory of Christ. This is how the early Church began and transformed the Roman and European landscape. This is how we must win Canada today; one soul at a time.
Very recently I came by two different sets of statistics related to the visible decline of Christianity in the West, one was a local newspaper article and one was by the BBC.
The BBC article reported that for the first time less than half of the population of England/Wales identified as Christian down to 46.2% in the 2021 Census from 59.3% in the 2011 Census (Britain does their censuses every decade). What is more, those who claim no religion are approaching those who claim to be Christian at 37.2%. However, a more accurate indicator as to the state of Christianity is not the census but those who attend a church service semi-regularly at 1.5%. As not everyone who goes to church is a Christian (i.e. they may be a “seeker” or nominal, as shall be seen), an generous estimate as to the number of Christians in the UK could be as liberal as 1% (670,000). 46.2% vs. 1% is a BIG difference!
In Canada there is a similar trend. Our recent census figures show 53.3% identify as Christian compared to 67.3% in 2001. The more accurate gauge as to the true number of Christians is church attendance. The following chart shows the decline of those who attend weekly service:
Today, partly because all religions are included in studies and partly because the measurement moved from weekly to monthly (itself telling) it can be difficult to truly gauge numbers. One study put monthly religious attendance at 23% (including all religions). Stats Canada (2019) noted 31% of professing Christians were in church monthly (2.283 million or 6% of the population). We might halve that to get a rough weekly figure of 1.14 million or 3% of the population. So liberally in 2019 (pre-pandemic), 3% of the population may have been Christian vs. 63.2% in the census. That is a BIG difference!
That means 3 out of 100 people you meet in Canada may be Christian!
What the media, ever the naturalist, fails to distinguish is between true Christians as God sees them and visible Christians as the world sees (2 Ti 2:19). The world likes terms like practicing vs. non-practicing Christian, etc. Muslims think of the entire West as Christian, either because of its past or its censuses. Rather the Bible speaks of Christians and non-Christians.
Just because I call myself a cat doesn’t make me one. Just because I sit in a garage doesn’t make me an automobile. So too, just because I call myself a Christian or go to Church doesn’t make me one.
We must not think naturistically like the world but see spiritually as the Bible teaches. We need to have discernment. The Bible has not left us blind to discern the marks of a genuine believer.
Jesus said we would “know them by their fruits” and that not everyone who said “Lord, Lord,” would enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 7). Likewise in 2 Cor 13:5 Paul urges the Corinthians to “test yourselves” and the possibility of failing “to meet the test.” Not all “Christians” are Christians. Similarly, Revelation speaks of “synagogues of Satan,” Jewish gatherings that visibly should have embraced their Messiah and been friendly but had rejected Him and so spiritually were not friendly. Indeed like many things in life we need this distinction to see the difference between real Christians and true Churches and nominal Christians and false Churches.
The Bible is filled with “tests of assurance,” marks that we are to use to evaluate (not be judgemental) as to whether someone is a Christian. You might read 1 John, which is filled with them, but the following may suffice. We know a Christian by three basic marks: by their lips (Ro 10:9–10), by their lives (Gal 5:22–23); by their baptized into the visible Church (Acts 2:38, 41).
Let’s wisely evaluate both our own lives and those who claim to be “Christian.”
 This group is commonly known as “the dones;” those who are still spiritual but not religious. They constitute an interesting demographic for evangelism.
 See Edwards Religious Affections if you’d like to do much deeper on this subject. Edwards was caught up in the 1st Great Awakening. He thought optimistically of all those who’d professed to be “converted.” In his book he looks at the Biblical marks of genuine conversion.
Recently our small town has become host to, not one, but two pot shops (and also boasts a grow op)! Additionally, in visiting someone in the community I came across their legal limit of marijuana plants growing on the deck. Canada is truly going to pot.
Aside from critiquing the fact that the government is promoting this and yet also promoting not smoking and other contradictions (such as the argument that legalized marijuana would get rid of the black market), what shall we make of Christ and Cannabis as Christians, are they compatible? As a general statement, NO! I can think of at least 7 basic Biblical principles:
1. Delight and Idolatry
The Bible resounds that we were made to enjoy God. To find ultimate enjoyment, or delight, in anyone or anything else is idolatry, the worship or enjoyment of someone or thing other than God. Certainly this does not mean we cannot enjoy lawful and good exercises but arguably (see below) substances don’t fit this category, and what is more so, they are consumed purely for the purpose of getting a ‘high.’ If we knew the Lord we wouldn’t have need of such a high and so at its very core people seek it out for idolatrous spiritual reasons rather than rejoicing in the Lord.
2. Upon Whom Do You Trust?
The Bible likewise resounds with the call to faith, to trust in the Lord and His word. Those who use substances are placing their trust in a substance to meet their deepest and spiritual needs and not the Lord.
3. Dominion and Lordship
The Bible, again, is very clear that Jesus is Lord. He is our creator, we’re meant to love and serve Him. The addictive nature of substances means that our lives come to be under another power (the substance) rather than Christ.
4. Loss of Control
The high received by substances comes at the expense of one’s mind such that we lose self-control, something which the Bible says we are to be vigilant to maintain. This can lead to other sins, which is why the Bible prohibits drunkenness for example.
5. Harm to Bodies
We were created in God’s image, given our whole person (including our mind and bodies) to be stewards of (not to mention our finances). Being ungodly stewards is therefore sinful. Further, if we are a Christian, as we are united to Christ, to smoke pot would be to make Christ a pot smoker Himself! Not only does smoke harm our lungs it also harms our brains. Studies have shown how progressively the brain dies as one smokes marijuana.
6. Seek Goodness
The Bible commends us pursuing things that are noble and good and lovely. Smoking something that smells like skunk, not to mention the other negative spiritual and moral outcomes, surely doesn’t qualify here.
In Scripture we’re called to live above reproach and not associate with questionable company. Cannabis, however, has a long and present history of being associated with the morally questionable to the outright dangerous (like gangs). It is a portal into darker things.
Whether a non-Christian or a Christian there is ample evidence why you should put a lid on pot; Christ and Cannabis don’t mix; nor should Cannabis be legal in Canada.
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