Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Regarding The Basic Necessities of Life

Sundar Singh wrote, "There is no evil or harm in using any of God’s created things, provided that we do it with thankfulness and with a proper sense of their value. But the danger lies in giving the Creator’s place in our hearts to the creature. ... We can neither live without water nor live in the water. We must drink, but not sink. If we do not drink we shall die of thirst; if we sink we shall die of drowning. So we must use things of the world in such a way that, while they sustain our bodies, they do not become too strong for us and choke the vital breath of our lives, which is prayer."

Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:25-33)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Concerning Qur'an Burning

As you all know, we did not burn the Qur’an here on September 11, nor will we in the future. There are three reasons.

First, and of least importance, I only own one printed copy of the Qur’an, and I do not want to have to buy another one.

Second, and only slightly more important, the Qur’an is probably the wrong book to burn, if one were into book burning. The implication of burning the Qur’an on September 11 is that the teaching of the Qur’an led to the attacks in 2001. I doubt that very much. While there are a number of things in the Qur’an with which I disagree, it is not the main source of radicalism within Islam. If books were to be burned on September 11, it should have been the Hadith, not the Qur’an. Muslims consider the Hadith as well as the Qur’an to be scripture; and it is to the Hadith rather than the Qur’an that most of the violence is to be traced.

Third, and by far the most important reason for not burning the Qur’an, is that we as Christians are not called to condemn other people’s errors so much as we are called to lead them to the truth. Getting everyone in the world, including all Muslims, to burn a Qur’an would save no one. They will not be saved until they submit to the gospel. Burning the Qur’an will make it more difficult to reach others with the good news of Jesus.

Christians are not commanded to pull annoying stunts like this but to "be all things to all men that by all means we might save some" (1 Cor 9:22). There is no way to reconcile the public burning of the Qur’an by so-called ‘Christians’ with that exhortation.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Clarity of Purpose

Last week I read two interesting works on education. One was written by Henry Adams (grandson of John Quincy Adams, great-grandson of John Adams), the other by John Milton (best known as author of Paradise Lost). Henry Adams wrote over four hundred pages, John Milton wrote less than twenty-five pages. Adams was by far the more entertaining; but I would judge Milton’s work the more useful.

The trouble with The Education of Henry Adams is that Adams did not know where he was going, so he could never figure out how to get there. He sought education at Harvard, in London, in Italy, all over Germany and the United States, but he was never satisfied that he received an education.

Were Henry Adams living today, he would fit right in. Our society is plagued by lack of purpose. People do not know where they are or how they came to be there, let alone where they are headed.

Milton knew where he was (outside of paradise), how he had gotten there (through sin), and what he needed to do. The purpose of education, according to Milton, is to repair the damage of the fall into sin by leading us back to God. That purpose may sound narrow, but only if we have a narrow view of God. Because he recognized the greatness of God, Milton proposed that every student study all the sciences (since God is the author of nature) and all the major languages (since all human languages are produced by fallen humans and none is capable of expressing God on its own).

We need a broader view of God, and a clearer sense of our purpose. We are not here to be consumers but to "glorify God and enjoy him forever." Let’s remember that in our studies, and in all that we do.