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Posts Tagged ‘worldliness’

On the Right Side of God

July 6, 2016 4 comments

BandwagonThese days are challenging ones for Bible-believing Christians in North America. Even needing to use the term “Bible-believing Christian” is evidence of this. It used to be that saying “Christian” assumed the “Bible-believing” part, but that’s not necessarily true these days, when even the Church is laying aside God’s Word to avoid the sting of being labelled – among other things – IRRELEVANT by a world that fancies itself to be heading in the right direction.

And the world – at first smilingly, then imperatively – is beckoning the Church to follow, inviting us onto the New World Bandwagon. In one of the many articles I’ve read on the subject lately, this invitation was accompanied by a dire warning: “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you?”

It seems that our society, convinced that its ideological and theoretical revelations have given it the higher moral ground, has peered into the future and has seen that it will be right, and that those of us who do not conform will ultimately discover that we were wrong. We will disappear and be forgotten because we didn’t march forward arm in arm with the world into the dawn of a new age of enlightened thinking. If we did, we would share in our society’s glory, receiving glowing mention in children’s history books in the future. In other words, we would avoid being “on the wrong side of history”.

This would be a compelling argument if I cared about being on the wrong side of history. Actually, I am far more concerned about being on the wrong side of God.

I believe that God lovingly created humankind for relationship – with each other, yes, but primarily with Him. I believe that our earliest ancestors traded that relationship for independence from God, with serious consequences. As we cut ourselves off from our primary relationship, we became damaged, and consequently pride and arrogance made their home in the human heart. With no moral compass, we became a broken race, more naturally inclined to sin than to live righteously, and moreover, prone to justify our sin (see Romans 1:18-32). It’s a sad story. We all ended up on the wrong side of God, cutting ourselves off from His love. We all deserved to be cast from His presence forever.

But God is not like us. We are faithless; He is faithful. Even though our independence, arrogance and pride made us a wounded race with a penchant for sin, God so loved us that gave His Son, Jesus, to die for the forgiveness of our sins and reconcile us with our Heavenly Father. I believe in Jesus. I believe He paid for my sin. I believe He brought me back into right relationship with God. I believe that by the power of the Holy Spirit – God’s gift to His people – we can be transformed – less inclined to sin, and more inclined to humbly ask God for forgiveness when sin happens. There is nothing like experiencing salvation in Jesus Christ – being on the right side of God – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Which brings me back to the New World Bandwagon, with our society alternately beckoning me, shaming me and commanding me to join them on it. The truth is, I can’t.

The difficulty is that, although not all of the “new” morality is bad,  some of it contradicts God’s commands in the Bible, including some specific ones about how – and how not – to relate to each other sexually (see Leviticus 18:1-30). I believe the Bible is God’s Word, and an honest reading of these scriptures – and a number of others in the Old and New Testament – prevents me from shrugging my shoulders and jumping on the bandwagon, simply “because it’s 2016.”

So what is to be done with me? I suppose I can be labelled, judged and written off, which seems to be the common practice these days. Despite its stated values of tolerance and inclusiveness, our society is ironically adept with labels and boxes. It would be easier to judge us and dismiss us if I and other followers of Jesus were two-dimensional haters or “phobes” worthy of such labels. But we aren’t. We aren’t haters for the same reason that we aren’t jumping on the New World Bandwagon: to do so would put us on the wrong side of God. In Matthew 5:43-45, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…

So we who are followers of Jesus are called to be compassionate and caring to all without having to call wrong right. This is a tall order, especially in a society that doesn’t understand the concept of compassion without agreement, which is true tolerance. But because of what Jesus has done for us, it is nonetheless our call – unwavering truth lived out with unwavering love.

So as the New World Bandwagon hurtles forward into a future that is less certain than we all think, and demands that I join them or end up on the wrong side of history, I will politely but not silently decline. I will offer a compassionate reminder that it is a far worse thing to end up on the wrong side of God than the wrong side of history, and I will happily extend that which God has given to all Christians to share – the good news that because of the reconciling work of Jesus Christ and the transforming work of His Spirit, anyone who humbly places their faith in Him and seeks to honour His Word can find themselves on the right side of God.

May the Lord bless you,

Rob

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Let’s not catch this.

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s a serious disorder. All over the world, many Christians suffer from it. It drains the power out of their Christian walk, chokes the spiritual fruit from their lives, robs them of purpose, and even causes some to shipwreck their faith. What is this terrifying blight – this real threat to our abundant life in Christ? Spiritual instability.

The symptoms of spiritual instability are numerous – wide spiritual mood swings, a loss of appetite for truth, low resistance to sin, spiritual lethargy, an allergic reaction to meaningful fellowship, restlessness, moral confusion, and tragically, a form of spiritual dementia that lashes out at those who care for them the most.

This is no isolated problem. In some ways, spiritual instability has gone pandemic – especially in our North American society, which sells selfishness, unhealthy independence and instant gratification to a brainwashed consumer culture. Unfortunately, all this has been sneezed on the Church, with disastrous results.

As followers of Jesus are infected with various strains of worldliness, their spiritual balance is affected, causing them to become disoriented and prone to stumble and fall away, sometimes taking others down with them. The resulting spiritual instability in its members has weakened the Church, and we find the Body of Christ suffering from a kind of low-grade fever, a sense of chronic spiritual fatigue that affects its muscles and joints, touching every aspect of its life. A Church suffering from spiritual instability in its parts becomes aimless, lethargic, anaemic in its resources, and relationally transient. Basically, it begins to fall apart.

In September of this year at FireLight, we felt that the Lord gave us a word of warning about spiritual instability, and an encouragement to actively work against this disease by being intentional about our life in Christ, bucking the world’s commitment to being noncommittal and decisively embracing the fact that we are disciples of Jesus in fellowship together. As we have begun to really look into how we can battle against worldliness, we have found that there is much we can do to cooperate with the promotion of spiritual stability in our individual lives, and consequently, in the life of the Church. For example, we can prevent spiritual disorientation by employing our GPS (God’s Positioning System), otherwise known as the BIBLE. In a world that has lost its way, the Word of God is extremely useful in helping us to get a true sense of where we are at, and who we are. In fact, spiritual stability is impossible to achieve without the regular use of this life-saving GPS. In addition to this, one of the most effective elixirs against worry, which leads to spiritual instability, is TRUST. Settling our trust issue with God – simply deciding that we believe Him when He says that He is there and He is good (not to mention all of His other wonderful promises) – brings a peace which passes all understanding. And that peace gives us a firm foundation to live on. The result is spiritual stability. Then there’s remembrance, belonging, investment, sincerity, and a host of other spiritual instability-busters that we will be examining together at FireLight over the next while.

Are you tired of being sneezed on by the world? Are you interested in prevention or recovery from spiritual instability? You’re invited to join us at FireLight as we seek the Lord together on this.

“Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” – Eph 4:14-15

 May the Lord bless you,

Rob (www.weccwinnipeg.ca)