Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Who Matters & Why?

Who matters?
The world says, "We do." "Man is the measure of all things," is the judgment of the prevailing philosophy. "Be religious if you want to; go to church if that works for you; worship God if he meets your needs. But, if he does not meet your needs, then abandon him (and his church). You are what matters, not him, not his church." These are the answers of the world.

God’s importance is derived, in the judgment of most. God is important only to the extent that he satisfied our desires. His importance is derived from us.

Who matters?
"God does." That is the answer of the Christian. Humans are important, but they are not the measure of all things. The importance of humans is a derived importance. Humans matter more than animals because they, uniquely, were created in God’s image.

Humans have a purpose. They were not created as consumers. They were not to created to consume the Lord’s creation for their own pleasures, instead they are to care for creation (Gen 2:15). Contrary to what you may have been taught, we did not call God into existence so that he might serve us, rather God spoke us into existence that we might glorify him (Isa 43:20-21; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

Our lives are not to be measured in terms of how well we satisfied our own pleasures, but in terms of how we glorified God (although, interestingly, those who have discovered this truth are the most satisfied people I know).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From Quill To Tweet

E-mail is now old fashioned. The up-to-date crowd is texting, tweeting, or posting on facebook. Most folks do not know what a fountain pen is, and they certainly have never used one. Hardly anyone has used a dipping pen, either steel or quill.

We might shun the new technologies as works of the devil. This is how many reacted when the printing press was invented. God’s word had always been read off a page where it had been painstakingly preserved by scribes. The newfangled printed page was viewed as too easy, too likely to cause disrespect for the holy word.

We might embrace the new technologies blindly. People like the speed of the new means of communication and feel that the new means can be used without hesitation.

In my judgment, neither of these is the correct response.

We should make use of new communication technologies carefully and prayerfully. Marshall McLuhan exaggerated in saying that "the medium is the message," but the medium certainly molds the message. The medium chosen for communication will effect how a message is received. Certain media are not suitable for certain messages. That is a fact that we ignore at great peril.

Whether we like it or not, the Lord proscribed visual arts within worship (Ex 20:4). Instead he emphasized, throughout scripture, the use of words rather than images.

All means of communication have their disadvantages. I can type faster than I can write with my fountain pen. Speed, however, is not an unmixed blessing. The handwritten note carries a more personal touch. The pace of the fountain pen encourages contemplation, while a speedy medium discourages depth of thought.

We ought to make careful use of all available means of communication. We ought to study the advantages and disadvantages and try to match the medium to the message. Sometimes we need to write rather than typing; often we need to communicate face to face rather than through an electronic or written means.

Those who have cut off face-to-face communication, who avoid dealing with their fellow Christians (or even their fellow humans) in this old-fashioned and direct manner, need to prayerfully consider what they are doing. Texting is fine for messages of little depth, but the really critical messages need to be delivered in person.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Christian Atheist

I have always loved oxymorons, but this is one I could have done without. Craig Groeschel has written a book called The Christian Atheist. It is about people who live as if God does not exist, even though they claim that he does, and even claim to be Christians.

I do not plan to buy a copy of the book, but I understand why it has been written. When Christians spend their money pretty much the same way their non-Christian neighbor do, are they not living as atheists? When the entertainment choices of Christians and non-Christians are virtually indistinguishable, does this not indicate a problem? When people who claim to be Christians consider it a burden rather than a blessing to worship God, are these people not Christian atheists?

No, they may be ‘church member atheists’ but they are not Christians. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Lord’s judgment will be "I never knew you" (Matt 7:23).

Ask yourself (perhaps as you stand in front of the mirror), ‘Do I know any church member atheists?’

Matthew 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Friday, December 10, 2010

More Blessed to Give

"We have come to pay him homage." Matthew 2:2, NRSV

This time of year most of us are busy buying gifts for family and friends. Although it may have gotten out of hand in many ways, this is a good practice, for "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

This seasonal gift giving is traced back to the Magi, or wise men, who brought gifts to Bethlehem; but rarely do we reflect on why they brought gifts. They came to worship (or pay homage, NRSV). They came to acknowledge the greatness of the child and their submission to him.

While giving gifts to our friends, let us not neglect to bring gifts of homage to our Lord. He does not need a new tie, or a shaver, or a shirt, or a book. He does not need anything that we can bring; but we need to bring him homage. We need to bring thanksgiving for his mercy, praise for his goodness, we need to acknowledge his greatness. We need to give these, although he has no need of anything.

As we worship, today and everyday, "let’s forget about ourselves and magnify the Lord and worship him."

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive. I have found that those who ‘come to church’ to be blessed usually go home empty. It is those who come not to get for themselves but to give homage to their Lord who most often go home blessed.