Christianity 201

October 1, 2012

Living in a Christian World

KJV Ephesians 5:18 …be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;

Phillips  Ephesians 5:18 l…let the Spirit stimulate your souls. Express your joy in singing among yourselves psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in your hearts for the ears of God!

NASB Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Message – Phil 4:8Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

The verses above usually receive a fairly specific application. The first, from Ephesians, has to do with allowing the Word of God (in a parallel Colossians passage) and the Spirit of God to overflow from your heart resulting in worship to God, in this case worship that is specifically musical; with the result that Christianity is essentially “a singing faith.”

The second verse from Philippians is usually used in reference to controlling our thought life; controlling what we allow to control us. Both verses have been referenced here at C201 in their primary contexts.

But today I want to think in terms of the everyday lives we live on Monday morning, after weekend services are over and we’re back to work, or school, or raising children. We spend at the very least an hour on Sunday in the “world of church” or “world of faith.” But many people walk out the door when the service ends and find themselves back in a culture situation that afford no opportunity for “psalms and hymns” and makes it hard to think about things which are “pure, lovely and of good repute.”

Their connection with Christian culture vanishes.

Those of us that blog, or work in vocational ministry at a local church or parachurch organization can be thought to represent one end of a continuum which has, at the other end, people who attend a church, but don’t allow the a Christian “seasoning” to permeate their lives throughout the week.

They possibly don’t read a daily devotional either; in print or online, so we’re not speaking to readers here necessarily.

Now having said that I can anticipate two objections.

The first is that we’re supposed to be “in the world” (though “not of it.”) This means that we’re not to spend our week living in the religious bubble or the Evangelical bubble. We’re expected to be out there getting our hands and feet dirty. Our time at worship before God is a type of retreat from the cares of the world, but then we return to the mission field where God has placed each of us.

The second objection would be that Christian culture, such as it exists, is somewhat flawed. ‘Christian’ is not an adjective that can be layered over music, books, radio, movies, web channels, restaurants, video games, etc. Reading Christian blogs — which I do a lot of — doesn’t make me more spiritual.

And yet, it bothers me that despite these valid objections, there are people who choose to almost abdicate from the world of faith for the other 167 hours of the week. They don’t have a preset for the local Christian radio station, they don’t take advantage of the resources available from online ministries, they don’t read any Christian books in the course of a year. Some don’t read their Bibles all week either; whatever reading is done in the worship service constitutes their only direct contact with the God’s Word throughout the week. (No pressure, pastors; right?)

Personally, I could survive a month on a deserted island with just my Bible, but in general, I need help. I am a better person in terms of my interactions with the world at large if I can approach those interactions with the flavor of faith. I need books to keep me thinking on things that are “true… honorable… right…” and I need music to keep me “singing and making melody to the Lord.”

I’m not trying to justify an industry, or several industries, or those industries’ excesses, but I’m saying that I do believe that at their genesis, there was a noble purpose of fanning the flames of faith; fanning the flames of what the Holy Spirit is already doing in our lives and wants to do.

And I’m concerned for people who are missing out on programs, resources, and opportunities that could greatly enhance their relationship with Jesus and their knowledge of God’s ways.

 

 

November 12, 2011

Their Church Doesn’t Look Like Our Church

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Hebrews 13:3

Mental exercise. Imagine it’s Thanksgiving Day. You’re seated at the table at home with your family. You’re looking at the biggest feast you’ll have all year. It’s nice and warm inside, snappy cold outside. The house smells wonderful and all of your favourite relatives are there. The recent Thanksgiving church service was great. Fantastic music, good sermon.

Got the picture? OK. Time for some cut and paste.

Cut the turkey, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, salads, pie and all of the food on the table. Paste in spicy chicken, rice, dumplings, stir fried vegetables and fresh fruit.

Cut your house and paste in one that’s half the size or smaller. Or a 3 bedroom apartment containing 6 beds. Cut the new dining room suite and paste an old table and a bunch of chairs that don’t match.

Cut your TV(s), VCR(s), DVD(s), computer(s), game system(s), stereo(s), iPod(s), portable(s) and paste one small b&w TV and an AM/FM radio.

Cut the local Christian radio station and paste silence.

Look around the room and cut half of the kids. They died in infancy, so they’re not there. Paste in the woman next door and her 3 children. Paste an empty chair for her husband. He was arrested 6 months ago for telling somebody at the factory about Jesus. She hasn’t been allowed to see him for two weeks, but she keeps trying every day. In the last half a year she’s aged 10.

Cut your church building and paste an empty lot.

Cut the recent church service and paste 8 people in a living room reading the Bible while one keeps peeking out the window.

How many Bibles do you have in your house? Cut them all. While you’re at it, cut every book by Max Lucado, every worship CD, everything recorded by the Gaithers, every poster, card, plaque or T-shirt that has scripture or the name of Jesus on it. Paste one very worn and much mended paperback Bible that has somebody else’s name written inside the cover. It was given to you years ago by a Canadian “tourist” when he was told that you’d given your only Bible to somebody who needed it more. You’ve since heard that it was ripped up into sections to be shared. You’re very happy about that.

Got the picture now?

OK. Bow your head to say grace. “Thank you God for…” What? That none of it’s true? That, try as you might, you can’t even really imagine it?

Sunday November 13 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. For our brothers and sisters for whom it is true. Take time to find out what you can and do what you can to support these Christ followers.

There is much we can learn from them.

~Ruth Wilkinson

The following groups are actively serving the persecuted Church. We urge you to use the links below to get more information about these groups and to visit their Web sites. They are your key to active involvement with the persecuted Church.
Christian Freedom International
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Christians in Crisis
Compassion Radio
Fishhook International
Gospel for Asia
Greater Calling
International Christian Concern
Iranian Christians International
Jubilee Campaign
Mission India
Open Doors
Persecution Project Foundation
The Voice of the Martyrs
World Bible Translation Center
World Evangelical Alliance
The Last Harvest