Take a moment and think with me.
Look at all the popular trends in Christianity today. Focus on youth groups, attracting the unbelievers, community outreach, entertaining the children.
What’s missing? Growing the believers in their own relationship with Christ. It has been deemed as a personal subject, something that you have to work out on your own. This isn’t healthy. We should be learning and growing in Christ as He is proclaimed from the pulpit. If all you ever hear from the pulpit is “3 key principles for…” or “7 steps to a…”, then I would venture to say (and I know this sounds harsh) that you are not growing in that church.
If you are in a church where the pastor preaches the person and work of Christ instead of 5-step formulas he found in a self-help book that has a Christian twist, then you have a rare pastor. You are in one of the unusual churches in America. I happen to be blessed that I am in a church where the pastor faithfully brings us, from virtually everywhere in the Bible, the finished work of Christ. He points out how this or that demonstrates Christ’s love, or shows His holiness or faithfulness or graciousness, etc. Bringing with it a new dimension that you may not have seen. It gives you a reason to go home rejoicing in Christ.
Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone: because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.
~ Isaiah 6:5 (KJV)
I came across this verse this morning, and I was immediately struck by one of it’s implications on today’s culture.
In this verse, Isaiah has seen God, and the first thing he says is. “Woe is me! … because I am a man of unclean lips…” He doesn’t say, “because I am a man of unclean habits/desires” He says unclean lips. A dirty mouth. When coming into the presence of God, even a righteous man in his time (Isaiah) was undone. Even he was a man of unclean lips. Yet in today’s society, nearly every movie, every new album, or just people you run into on the street will use profanities and curses that would never have been uttered by Isaiah. Yet he was a man of unclean lips. How much more are the people of today, and sadly even professing Christians?
Popular culture today exalts vulgarity and profanity, and looks down on those who don’t use it, claiming that they are somehow wimps if they do not toughen up by swearing and cursing. Many people who are profane of speech may not necessarily look down on those who aren’t, but they view them as somewhat inferior, or childish.
As Christians we are not to be a people of unclean lips. Remember Mark 7:20: “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.” Peter says in 1 Peter 1:15 that we are to be “holy in all manner of conversation:” citing the words of God in verse 16. This is not just a recommendation, it is a command from God. And because it a command from God we are to obey it. The Holy Spirit will help us to this end, but we are to strive to be holy, because He is holy.
The first sound uttered in the universe was the voice of God commanding, “Let there be!” It is improper to say that this was the first sound “in” the universe because until the sound was made there was no universe for it to be in. God shouted into a void. Perhaps it was a kind of primal scream directed at the empty darkness.
The command created it’s own molecules to carry the sound waves of God’s voice farther and farther into space. Yet sound waves would take too long. The speed of this imperative exceeds the speed of light. As soon as the words left the Creator’s mouth, things began to happen. Where His voice reverberated, stars appeared, glowing in unspeakable brilliance in tempo with the songs of angels. The force of divine energy splattered against the sky like a kaleidoscope of color hurled from the palette of a powerful artist. Comets crisscrossed the sky with flashing tails like Fourth of July skyrockets.
The act of creation was the first event in history. It was also the most dazzling. The Supreme Architect gazed at His complex blue-print and shouted commands for the boundaries of the world to be set.
~ R. C. Sproul from his book The Holiness of God
It is not wrong to love God for what He has done for us. Not to do so would be the very baseness of ingratitude. To love God purely for what He is, is by some spoken of as that highest kind of love, into which enters no element of self. It is not so. For in that case, you are actuated by the pleasure of loving; and this pleasure of loving an infinitely lovable and glorious Being of necessity introduces self. Besides, to say that we are to love God solely for what He is, and not for what He has done, is to make ingratitude an essential element of pure love. David’s love shewed itself in “not forgetting God’s benefits” (Psa 103:2). But this so- called “pure love” soars beyond David’s, and finds it a duty to be unthankful, lest perchance some selfish element mingles itself with its superhuman, superangelic purity.
~ Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)
As I was on top of the roof of my house painting, I found my mind wandering to Matthew 22:15-22. I hadn’t read it recently, nor had I been in discussion about it, but it popped into my head. Anyways, I started thinking about this scenario. Jesus asks to see the money that they would pay tribute with (after they initiate the conversation hoping to catch Jesus in a political issue) They show it to him, and he asks them about whose image is on the coin. They reply, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus said, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (render in this use means to “give back”)
Jesus is making a direct correlation in this passage. The things that have Caesar’s image on them, should be rendered to Caesar. The things that have God’s image should be rendered to God. What is it that has God’s image? Look at Genesis 1:26-27. It says as plain as day that God created man in his own image. Therefore, Jesus is saying that we should give ourselves back to God because we bear his image. It is our reasonable service; Rom 12:1.
So, I have had a MacBook Pro for a year and a half or so. At the same time, I got an iPod touch, because it was Apple’s deal that you by a Mac for school, and you get a free iPod touch (they have since stopped doing this). Because this was a year and a half ago, and because it was the 8Gb version, it is a rather old iPod. It won’t let me upgrade the OS anymore. That’s how old it is.
So, my brother just got an iPod touch, and it is the new one. Needless to say, this made me slightly jealous. I started complaining about all the things that mine doesn’t do. Comparing mine with his. It wasn’t good for me. I shouldn’t have done that. I should have been happy for him because he got it, and he had been wanting to get it for a while. But I was jealous.
I tend to be this way when some new tech gadget comes out, and I have the older version. I wan’t the new MacBook, and a new iPod, and a new desktop computer with the new i7, and an iPhone, and an iPad 3 (assuming it is coming), and I want a new this, and a new that.
But in reality, nobody can afford to get the latest of everything. I need to stop living in the cloud, and come back down to earth, and realize that I actually have it pretty well off. Seriously. Just looking at computers, I have three of them. Who needs three computers anyway?
So, there you have it. And hopefully I can ditch this endless desire for more and more and better and better. I guess it will never really go away, I just need to learn how to keep it in check. Something I need God’s help on, because I can’t do it.