Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christians in Truth

I was in another Christian bookstore on Friday and saw another very interesting sign. No, not a sign announcing the end of the age, but a sign on the wall warning customers browsing the discounted Bibles section that electronic surveillance had been installed because of theft. A sign of the times indeed. Then just yesterday I read an article about a new study out of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which reveals that teens who take 'virginity pledges' are not more likely than other teens to delay sexual activity and more likely to have unprotected sex. It reminded me that something more than external constraint, and parental and peer pressure is needed when it comes to proper and godly behavior. There must be heart change and internal, personal commitment to God.

So whether it is Christian bookstore customers stealing Bibles, or switching the price tags (which, as the sign noted, is also stealing), or whether it is youth from Christian homes and schools being pressured into making commitments about sexuality, there is no substitute for the new birth and an ongoing commitment to doing the will of God. There are no shortcuts to holiness. It is not a matter of the right kind of education or peer group. Rather internal reformation and revival that is renewed on a daily basis before the Lord is necessary. Without this kind of personal commitment Christians will dishonor the name of Christ and they will fail to keep their resolutions just like everyone else.

The same is true with regard to wealth and spending. It would be interesting to see a study of Christian spending habits. I suspect it would reveal that generally speaking Christians do not spend their money any differently than non-Christians. Is this because the Bible says nothing about money and material possessions? No, far from it! A cursory reading of the Bible reveals that the Bible has much to say about money and material possessions beyond the simple fact that at some level they are blessings from God. The problem is that Christian teachings are not properly systematized and applied to life, including spending. Or the assumption is made that the consumer culture in which we live is somehow consistent with biblical teaching -- a highly dubious conviction unless severely nuanced by the totality of biblical revelation.

Following Christ is far more radical than many people realize and even those of us who call ourselves Christians have a long way to go when it comes to living simple, quiet lives that are energized by the power of the Spirit and shaped by kingdom perspectives and priorities. This year let us strive to be Christians in truth, and not in name only. In many ways the world has not seen what God can do through people who are completely sold out to him. This cannot be done in our own strength, it is only possible through the power of the Spirit who has been poured out by the Lord in this gospel age in which we live. Only then will electronic surveillance be unnecessary, and only then will people of all ages fulfill their commitments and pledges.


Ken Davis said...

"Following Christ is far more radical than many people realize"

Wow Kirk. Great post.

How sad is it when not stealing Bibles and not switching price tags is part of what it means to live as a radical follower of Christ?

As for a consumerist mentality. I have to plead guilty to a certain degree here and we are committed in our household to pay off some debts that arose through some bad decisions several years ago.

But Christians will not be consumerist for long. The trend in the culture is starting to be toward less spending. Christians in North America will jump on that band wagon just like they have all the others. Not because it is right. But because it is fashionable.

And yes, you may pray about my cynicism if you wish.

christine costa said...

There is and always has been a disconnect by professing Christians who violate biblical standards. The transforming work of Spiritually regenerated Christians means they desire application of rich biblical standards.
The Holy Spirit indwells His people, sanctifies, instructs and empowers them instrumentality by His Word(John 5:24).
At times I remember of my past discontent for the lack of economic freedom to travel to destinations I dreamed about in my youth. Then I am reminded that our Lord distributes His resources according to His Providence. And so the only response to this reality is an overwhelming gratitude to all that He has provided for me. "I am rich, I am rich I tell the world."
In 2009 the governmental laws will not require that we distribute our personal wealth in some "utilitarian" method(learned this definition in ethics course, highly recommend the study @ TBS). Yet a simple refusal to share the Gospel and our wealth with the poor and needy is to say we don't share God's passion to strengthen the forgotten.
When we "forget"...we are in a pervasive selfishness, simply too occupied with surplus and have misplaced ownership of our assets. It'a all Yahweh's, the King's!

Christine :)Soup, Soap, Salvation
(Luke 1:46,53)

Kirk Wellum said...

Thanks for your comments Ken and Christine. How important it is to be 'salt' and 'light' in our world.