A response to this blog entry:
Christ calls us to be in the world, yet not of it. The difficult part of this directive is that by being in the world, we are subject to its influences. In this case, infidelity, divorce, and sexual promiscuity are becoming ever more accepted and commonplace in our culture. Such practices also appeal to our sinful desires, even as believers, thus making it that much more difficult to resist. I am afraid that the failure of the church in America to defend marriage and sex as holy is due, in large part, to the failure of the church to live righteously through the development of a strong relationship with God and to develop unity among itself. We have become so divided, and we have become so lackadaisical in this culture where we have plenty that we have forgotten what it means to rely on God for our everything, and as such, we have then allowed sinful practices to creep into our churches and into our worship, tainting and spoiling our testimonies and what influence we could have on our culture. Ultimately, if we wish to defeat this monster and set it in its place, we have to first get back to our place of right relationship with God and with each other, shunning sin, no matter what the cost, and embracing that which is holy. This begins in our churches and in our families and in our personal, daily walks with Christ. If the church cannot live righteously, how can we expect anyone else to do so?
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Sin brings death. Initial thought is that of the garden, Adam and Eve, their sin and the death resultant from that. Their death was immediate spiritual and eventual physical–and it is the pattern for today. Some sins, by their very comission, end in physical death for one person, or
several. But there is not only physical death. Then often emotional death, where people become hard and cold and unfeeling. There is spiritual death, when an individual strays away from God. When the sin is rationalized away, mental death occurs. There is also relational death, when social relationships are damaged or destroyed. The solution?
21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
Live by the Word and die by the Word.
Stop and think about it for a second. Why did God create us? Why did He create anything? He had to know how much trouble it would create. He was the only being for all eternity, and it was VERY unlikely that anything would appear on its own. Was he lonely? Unlikely. He could have created us as peers, with all His knowledge and wisdom, so we could relate to Him perfectly. But even such created beings would still be inferior because they would not be gods. He could have left well enough alone. He would have suffered no lack for it. He could have created other gods like Himself, perfect in every way, with no way they could sin because of their perfect holiness. He is powerful enough that He could have done that. So why then did He create something lower than Himself that could sin? He could have avoided so much trouble.
I believe the answer is in something I read some time ago in my devotions. We have been created for God’s enjoyment. He created us so that He could enjoy us. Of course, God being the all-knowing being that He is knew that His creation, created in His image, would fall into sin and that that creation, having then fallen into sin, would bring Him great pain, anger, and displeasure. Knowing this, He still created us, and created us for His pleasure and enjoyment. Does that mean that He gets enjoyment from us, even now, even though we still consistently cause Him so much pain? Or did He cease to find enjoyment in us at the Fall and will not truly
enjoy us again until we are perfected in eternity? I suspect that He enjoys us even now, even in our fallen state. Now whether He enjoys us as a race or just enjoys individuals throughout time I do not know, but He must find some pleasure in us or I fear He would have destroyed us long ago. I’m sure He will not find full and complete enjoyment in us again until eternity, when we are returned to that state in which we were originally intended to exist. But to think that I could possibly cause Him enjoyment even now, that is an ideal for which I can truly strive. And I think I can begin doing that by doing all things with His pleasure, including any job I have,
even if it’s the lowliest of jobs.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I used to read this verse to mean that you would get the things that you want because they are also the things that God wants you to have; ergo, “I’m close to God, so I’m thinking His thoughts after Him, so what I want is what He wants.” Emphasis on the object desired. Now, however, I think it’s more subtle than that. He will give me the “desires of [my] heart,” emphasis on the desire, regardless of whether I actually receive the objects(s) desired. Essentially, I can be content with having the desire alone because I know the desire is from God. Even though I realize I may never actually recieve the object of my desire, I can and will continue to pursue it because God has placed the desire in my heart and it will make me more like His Son. So, it’s not the end result that matters, it’s like Scott Garber says, “It’s the journey, stupid.”
Over the last few weeks and months, I have been overcome with fascination for the written word. Part of this has been exemplified in my increasing desire to write, both fiction and commentary. Part of it can be seen in my continued collection of bumper sticker phrases, witty or amusing t-short slogans, wise and inane church signs, random quotes, and enigmatic riddles. All of these provide little snapshots of insight into the human psyche and into the mind of our culture. People also reveal bits of themselves when they show their identification with such phrases, whether it be through wearing the t-shirt, nodding in agreement with the sign, or using the quote as an away message for their instant messenger. Words are powerful, especially when they have been carefully sculpted. They have a way of capturing the mind, of charging the spirit, and even, if one is not careful, of devouring the soul. Yet their poignancy, their pithyness, their brevity can be the very thing that inspires one to greatness. An artfully drafted phrase can bring great enlightenment; it can also cause great confusion. Ultimately, words can be a great influencer. They should be handled with care and wisdom and should not be thrown
about lightly. When used properly, they can stimulate the imagination, challenge the intellect, shape the character, and melt the heart.
A post by Joel inspired me to write this little bit today. I’ve been told in a number of my psychology classes that extroverts outnumber introverts significantly. I wouldn’t be too surprised by this. Our culture trains individuals to be extroverts in order to survive in the business world, in the social world, in just about every realm of life. I can behave in an extroverted manner for a brief
time, but it always leaves me worn out and drained. I am, by nature and by experience, an introvert. I can be alone for long periods of time and come out of seclusion feeling stronger, healthier, and more rested. Part of this is simply a result of my personality; I was born an introvert. Part of this is because I find it difficult to trust people right away (even though I’m almost always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt, an interesting dichotomy, I admit). Ultimately, if I don’t get alone time every day for at least a half hour to an hour, I find that I am more tired, irritable, and crabby than I like to be. Of course, you can also blame part of that on the artist in me — I am extremely moody for a male. But with copious amounts of sleep and time by myself, my moods tend to stabilize. My best and most creative work usually
develops when I am by myself (or with no one other than my wife), with my favorite music playing in the background. Part of me has been tempted lately to just seek out a career as an author (despite the knowledge of how difficult such a life can be), where I can be alone much of the time and just let my creative juices flow. Naturally, as a result of my introversion, I find it difficult to serve God fully since doing so requires me to interact frequently with other people. It takes a reliance upon Him to do something that does not come naturally to me. That’s just the way it is for me, and I suspect that’s the way it is for most of us who call ourselves introverts.