Good morning, Everyone! Just want to give a shout out to our college peeps who may already be homesick and are looking to this blog to give them a touch of home. Be assured that you are missed, and that your parents are already redecorating your rooms to be used for something else.
Our post today is something for you (and the rest of us)to ponder as you encounter new people, challenges, and worldviews in school. I came across this great post on the web that I want to share with you:
In his book "The Normal Church Life," (An Exposition of the First Epistle of John), P.G. Mathew states, the book of First John deals with four main themes: (1) orthodox doctrine (2) practical personal holiness, (3) the Christian community life of love, and (4) the assurance of Salvation.
This epistle flies in the face of today's secular society because our secular culture hates uncompromising imperatives. Our society has an absolute commitment to moral and philosophical relativism. The surprising thing is that today's churches have become like-minded. Few churches preach orthodox doctrine; even fewer require practical holiness. We hear very little today of sin, repentance, holiness, judgment, or hell. The prevalent view is that mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel constitutes salvation, so that one can accept Jesus as Savior yet continue to live in sin and still expect to be saved! Any call to obedience is labeled as legalism. "Carnal Christianity" has become the norm.
John writes with authority and clarity: "This is love for God: to obey His commands" (1John 5:1, 3). Unlike the "carnal Christian," the one who is born of God will believe sound doctrine, will live to please God and the brethren, and, thus, will enjoy assurance of salvation.
To say you "know God" (1John 2:4), and have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3), yet not obey Him or grow in holiness, is patent, self-refuting nonsense. If you do not walk in the light of Jesus, you are walking in darkness. If that be the case, you are not living according to the truth (1John 1:6), you are lost because only the truth can set you free (John 8:32), and you have no fellowship at all with God because "in Him is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5). If you claim otherwise, you are deceiving yourself (1John 1:8), and accusing God of being a liar (1John 1:10)... -- Toby Miller
I have no idea who Toby Miller is, but what he says is central to what I have been struggling with for some time. When I started this blog, it was for the purpose of connecting and spurring on those who are hungry and thirsty for deeper fellowship, understanding of the Scriptures, and more of God in general.
I am coming to realize, that is going to be a very small number of people. Most people who call themselves Christians could not pass the test of 1 John. We have sent some of our graduates to Christian colleges like OWU and CFNI (my apologies to any acronyms I have forgotten). My guess would be that 75% of students on those campuses that claim to be Christians, probably aren't.
The worry I have for myself, and for those who just went off to college, and anybody else who rubs shoulders with people who claim to know Christ, is that we will be sucked into the contemporary definition of Christianity that is full of carnality, self-righteousness, selfish ambition and hot air, instead of love for God and His commands, and love for people. Go ahead - read 1st John, and see if most Christians you know would pass the test. See if you pass the test!
We were recently looking for Sunday School teachers for the youth and for two of the kids classes. What do you think the bible's qualification of that leader should be?
Consider Acts chapter 6 when the qualification for SERVING FOOD was to be someone who was full of the Spirit and full of wisdom.
A couple other well known leadership passages are 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.
Compare those qualifications to our qualification list most of the time:
1. Breathing (this is important, but not required)
2. Willing (again, this is desired, but not necessarily required for leadership)
3. They must at least claim to be a Christian.
4. Not an axe murderer. (We are pretty insistent on this one)
5. Charismatic. (If they are good with people - hey, they must be leadership material!)
We've accepted our list because the need is great, and there is a shortage of qualified candidates, and the ones who are qualified are already doing too much. Thankfully, we scored great teachers and leaders in all three of our classes - but if they had not come forward, what would we have done? We would have been glad just to have someone "cover" the class. After all, we can't afford to be too picky, right?
The list of people who truly "hunger and thirst after righteousness" is scary small. I'm afraid that we have accepted a "norm" for Christianity that is the opposite of the real definition of Christian.
I've said all that to say this (which I hate when people say that, because if that's the case why didn't you skip all that and get to the this right away?). This is what is on my mind this week:
Uno. We can't compare ourselves to other people who claim to be christians to see how we are doing. The people we are comparing ourselves to may not be Christians. They may go to a Christian college, they may listen to Christian music and they may even be studying for the ministry - that doesn't mean they are saved. To look at others for approval instead of God's Word is to accept compromise as a way of life.
Dos. one of the reasons we are in this predicament is because we are basically ignorant of the Bible. We, who claim to be God's children and even ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ probably couldn't quote 10 verses of the Bible if our life depended on it(The 10 commandments and Jesus wept don't count). I used to be an Elvis fan (some would say freak). I could tell you all of his movies and when they were released and a multitude of other facts that noone in their right mind should care about. Some of you are that way about a favorite sports team or TV show. Can you name all 12 of Jesus' disciples? I rest my case.
Three. I wish I was more afraid of offending God than I was offending people. We have to start lifting up and holding each other to a higher standard. That's why I started this blog. So we could learn together, sharpen each other, and, if needed, correct each other (in private, of course).
Only a fool despises a parent's discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.
(Proverbs 15:5 NLT)
Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.
(Proverbs 15:12 NLT)
A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.
(Proverbs 15:14 NLT)
If these verses are true, why do avoid confrontation like the plague? Why are we terrified to confront someone because of the possible repercussions of suggesting to a brother or sister that what they are doing/thinking is wrong? Could it be because they(we) aren't hungry for knowledge, and they(we) despise discipline and they might avoid us so they don't have to answer for their actions? We know they aren't going to receive it well and so we keep our mouth shut. On either end, that's a sad state of affairs for the Church.
So, wherever God may lead you - don't be afraid to be set apart and shine for Him!
Well, that's all for today. I'll post a new song tomorrow (I know you are beside yourself with excitement)and I'll be looking for what you have to add to the discussion!