Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Adolescent Christianity? You decide!

I found this video thought-provoking. He makes some very valid points about what makes for a maturing faith vs. an "adolescent" one.

 So, what kind of faith do you have? An "adolescent" faith that focuses mainly on how you "feel" about God, yourself, and what's happening, or a maturing faith that goes far beyond what you feel. Paul writing to the church plagued with divisions caused by people's preferences (over different church leaders)states: "Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?" (1 Cor. 3:1-3) 

So how are you doing? Some questions might help you decide....
  • At the end of the day, how much of your behavior, thoughts, words, and interactions with others would you consider merely human? 
  • How much would be reflective of your faith in Christ.
  • Is your life characterized by a faith for "all" circumstances, even the mundane? 
  • Do you have to experience an emotional "high" to call an experience "worshipful?" 
  • Do you think and/or speak negatively of others who differ in their preferences for corporate worship styles? 
  • Are you focused on maturing in your faith, becoming more and more like Christ in His character with a desire to treat others as He did? How much do you talk about Him with others?
  • Do you love Christ's church as imperfect as it is, with a desire to contribute to its health, vs. merely criticizing it for its problems? 
  • Are you connected to a church family beyond merely attending services? 
  • Are you willing to follow Christ where He leads, even if the route He takes isn't as pleasant and appealing as you'd like?

Just some things to think about...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Let's Glorify God by Being Good, Not By Being Mean!

Yes, I really, really enjoy people surprising people with their talent on national competitions. Some of the most moving moments I've seen have been on Britain's Got Talent (remember Susan Boyle?). Here is such a moment when a special "choir" shocks ever cynical Simon Cowell and the other judges. This "pastor" pulls a fast one, and the crowd loves it.

Did you hear judge David Williams' comment:"It made me want to go to church." This reminded me that we are called to glorify God through our lives...giving people a reason to investigate the goodness and greatness and, yes, GLORY of God. Glorifying God basically means to live in such a way that it gives others a reason to praise and honor Him. One of the earliest Hebrew words used in the Old Testament to denote "glory" was kabod, originally means "weight" or "heaviness." So one way to think of glorifying God is to live in such a way that others realize He is the One Who "carries the most weight" in your life; i.e. is THE ultimate, and MOST important influence in your life. 

Getting mad because someone doesn't agree with you is not glorifying to God. How many churches have been divided because someone (or group) becomes mean-spirited about some non-essential issue. One of my favorites (sadly) was the story I heard once of a church splitting over the color of new street lights in their parking lot....blue vs. amber.

How important is it that we are focused and intentional about glorifying God through love and good works? Well, the Bible is pretty clear about this:

  • Love is not easily angered. (1 Cor. 13:5) 
  • Love is THE most important thing a person can do. (Matt. 22:34-40) 
  • Love is the central virtue of the Christian life. (Col. 3:12-14)
  • Love is the best sign to others that you belong to Christ. (John 13:35) 
  • Love: no matter what you possess, or how many great things you do, without it you have nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1-3) 

 Sounds important to me! Sounds pretty "weighty" to me. Sounds like a great way to sing with all your might! Sounds like a great way to glorify God in all that you do or say!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You Are What You Eat! Avoiding Over-Processed Christianity!

Hey, would you like to see something that looks great, but is a bit creepy. It just came out today. It's an animation video that Chipotle's has released that takes on the "Big Food" industry. The thing that is grabbing people's attention is how Chipotle's is going "low-key" on inserting its name in the video. It's releasing an app at the same time, aimed on getting consumers to think more about the foods we eat. Click the video:

On the spiritual level, it reminded me of how close we modern Christians might come, sometimes, to consuming a "human-processed" Christianity that could provide a dangerous substitute for the real thing is people aren't careful. Before anyone jumps on me for favoring one style over another, I can see how either a contemporary or tradition form of worship on Sundays can become "over processed" to the point that we reduce true worship (living a life that values Christ and His truth ultimately to the point that we are becoming more joyfully obedient every day) to attending services, and listening to sermons/music that make us feel a certain way. If someone who calls himself/herself a Christian yet can justify being mean to a brother or sister in Christ (either younger or older) simply because he or she differs in personal preferences for church service "styles," something is wrong.

Worship is ascribing/recognizing the ultimate worth of God through Christ. True worship occurs in an person's life through the work of the "organic" (vs. programmed) Holy Spirit, Who uses the truth of His word and the encouragement of the church to transform a person's mind (i.e. Romans 12:1,2) into a mind that thinks, decides, and ultimate acts more and more like Jesus and less and less like the  world.  If you want to know what "fresh, real" Christianity looks like, 1 Cor. 13 (what love looks like), and Galatians 5:22,23 (fruit of the Spirit) would be great places to start.

How big a deal is this? Christ said loving God and loving others were THE most important commands of all, and that ALL the law and the prophets revolved around them. (Matt. 22:34-40) Paul says that if we can fathom all mysteries and  all knowledge but  have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2). Sounds important to me!

Of course the Spirit can use church services (regardless of music style) to draw people closer to Him and to renew a person's commitment to follow Christ. However, if a person's commitment to Christ is a silent, invisible thing throughout the week (or worse, if he/she is an active, destructive, mean-spirited hypocrite), then it might be time for that person to consider his/her spiritual diet.