spiritual forcast

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church in the heart of the “Bible belt”.  I was educated in Christian elementary, middle, and high schools.  I went to Grove City College, a liberal arts Christian College in Pennsylvania.  I had and have Christian parents, friends, teachers and mentors.  And the world is completely justified in saying that Christians are terrible people (bet that wasn’t where you saw that going).  Now before you have an aneurysm, I am not saying that all Christians are awful.  I am simply saying that the majority of people who call themselves Christians are not living lives that even begin to reflect it.   I am even lax to call myself a Christian, not because of shame or fear or because I am not, but simply because describing myself that way means immediately having to dig myself out of a hole of preconceptions and judgements.  And that’s just terrible.

Here goes my soap-box moment, to try to help both sides see what they have wrong, and what they need to fix.

Let me try that again: Here goes my soap-box moment, to remind the Church what Jesus told us (yes, myself included) to do so we  can stop giving our Lord and Savior a bad name.

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1) Admit That You’re a Sinner – (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8Step one to becoming a Christian.  Not “God is so amazing and is going to bless me greatly if I follow Him”.  No, it’s “God is so amazingly perfect and wonderful that I should be justifiably damned to hell for how abhorrent I am”.  I cannot stress to you enough how even as I type that I hate the idea of hell.  C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain said it best:

“There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this [hell],

if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words;

it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.”

The take away is this: If we diminish our sin, we diminish God’s glory, and since God’s perfect nature cannot be diminished because it IS, when we try to diminish our sin we are only fooling ourselves.   The Bible does not give a hierarchy of sin, and our human attempts to  ostracize people caught in a certain sin is nothing more than our own attempt to make ourselves feel better by comparison.

Mark 3:29 points to the only unforgivable sin.  If Jesus Himself forgave the very people who killed God’s Son (Luke 23:34), then we are arrogant to judge anybody.  A realization of our own sin will not cause us to look down on others, but be humbled and empathize, through a shared need for forgiveness.

2)  Stop Going to Church and Be the Church – (Acts 2:42-47The church in Acts 2 right after Pentecost presented the example for what church is supposed to be: a fellowship of believers. They built a community around 5 ideas:

  • Studying the Bible (v.42)
  • Fellowship (v.42)/ meeting together (v.46)
  • Praying together (v.42)
  • Sharing their possession and their lives (v.44-45)
  • Eating together (v.46)

Only one of these things involved a building.  The body of believers IS the church, and meeting together once a week is a drop in the bucket of what community is.  Christian morality, community and worship are all holistic values that affect our entire lives.

3)  Stop Putting Words in God’s Mouth – (Rev. 22:19, Prov. 30:5-6, Isaiah 55:11)  The youth group of my church once visited another smaller church, in hopes of helping with an outreach program they were trying to start.  We sat through a sermon which was emotional, inspiring and poetic; but ultimately unbiblical, illusory and dangerously misleading.  Aside from quoting scriptures that are not in the Bible, the pastor hopscotched around to different verses, giving no sense of context or the author’s intention, and breaking every logical fallacy known to man.  I  have been to sermons where the Bible was not opened or mentioned.  I have been to Bible studies where the bible was not opened or mentioned.  Isaiah 55:11  is God’s promise that His Holy Word will not return void.  Nothing else carries that reassurance.

Why rely on anything other than the inspired Word of God to do the work of God?

4) Stop Backing Down – (James 3:1-2, Eph. 6:19, Acts 4:29) – The term “Fundamentalist” gets a pretty bad rap.  Not nearly as bad as “Conservative Christian” though.  Yes, the world is changing.  Whether it is getting better or worse is up for debate, but it is changing nonetheless.  Contrast that with Hebrews 13:8, which says:

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”

The world is always changing, but there are some things which CANNOT change.  The Bible will never change, and what it says about sin, faith, eternity and so on will never change.  We can contrive, connive and revise all we want, it will not change the truth.  Ignoring the bible does not end its existence, and cheap arguments do not nullify its relevance.

5)  Learn Some People Skills – I shared earlier my ideas of how to be tactful in sharing your beliefs, and I have personally learned the hard way that my excitement doesn’t equal excitement in others.  This last point echoes what I said about sharing your beliefs; use your head and your heart.  Jesus went through the temple with a whip,  but he also wept in the face of human suffering.    God sent ten plagues and delivered the Israelites from Egypt and then gave them the law and the Ten Commandments.  He gave them reason to trust Him, built a relationship, and then showed them their sin.  He offered Himself first.

Go and do likewise  

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Touche, sir

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