Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In the World but Not Of It #3

If you haven’t read part one and part two yet, you should probably do that before this one.

We are talking about transformation and radical life changes. October 14, 1973 began mine. I didn’t want to hold on to anything that displeased the Lord or which might trip me up. I want to say that life was not perfect and still isn’t. Sin is a battle every day. Win some and lose some. Get up, brush yourself off and go on. I have probably done worse things since I became a Christian than before.

It’s a battle today! Marriage and family are tough stuff. No wonder so many people avoid them. Before I got married I thought I was close to perfection. Reality came quick though and I found out I had a lot of scum in my life. Kids brought out even more. As one author has said, “maybe marriage and children are to help make you holy and not happy.” I’m hoping I can have both.

I wonder sometimes what would have happened if the mentors I had in those early years would have taken a modern approach with me. It seems today, we do everything we can to avoid being different. We are told we need to be able to engage the culture if we are going to make a difference. We need to see the same movies and TV shows and listen to the same music so we have something to converse about at the water cooler. We are so worried that if we seem different it will scare people away. Now I do think we need to understand people and the lives they lead but there are ways to do that other than sitting in the same mud.

Here is some Scripture that is relevant: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. "And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me," says the Lord Almighty.”
We are told that people don’t “come” to the Lord anymore but it’s all a slow journey. There may be some truth in that but I think the result of some of that thinking is that we are afraid to call them to discipleship. We stand back while they have a yearning for God and are discontent with their life. We watch them on the journey, then all of a sudden the baggage they are traveling with, the temptations they face and the discouragement they encounter pulls them back into the mud.

How about this: Ephesians 4:22-24
“that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in [the likeness of] God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
I know this isn’t true in every case but it sure seems that the church today seems content to tolerate a lot of “worldly” living that years ago we would have called people out of and they would have gladly left. According to statistics, around 24 percent of abortions are committed by born again Christians. Our divorce rate is about the same, maybe a little higher. Our young and not so young singles are having sex outside of marriage at close to the same rate. We are reluctant to speak on these things because we don’t want to offend. So the discipleship of the world takes over. The world speaks into the vacuum. It says, “these things don’t really matter. Go ahead and be “saved” but you don’t have to drop all these things and change behaviors, at least not so quick.”

Here are three Scriptures I want to consider. James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. So, just what does that mean? Are we a little too cozy?

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. We need to raise Scripture as the standard. We need to speak to specific issues even if it makes us or others uncomfortable. If we don’t, the world will.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. The Phillips version says, don’t let the world around you squeeze you into it’s own mould. The things of the mind and of the body need to be transformed. This is a daily job. The world doesn’t let up in trying to make us like itself.

It has been said that people rise to a challenge. Let’s not be afraid to set the bar high. We may be surprised at all the people who line up to give it a try.


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