Priorities Reveal the Heart
I was involved in a conversation recently where one person said, "Those Mormons really practice their faith. They are in church three hours every Sunday, they don't drink alcohol or even caffeine and they tithe 10 percent of their money so that any Mormon in need never has to go to the government for help." Another person said, "that reminds me of the Muslim cleaning guy I knew some time back. He prayed 5 times a day, fasted during Ramadan, attended his mosque faithfully and did all the other Muslim stuff. And they take care of their own, too."
This conversation put me in mind of a Conservative Jewish family I know who is absolutely faithful in keeping Sabbath, attending their synagogue and keeping the other Jewish observances.
All three of these are examples of people who never seem to question the fact that their faith will dictate choices that tell the world, "We are different. Our faith comes first."
What has happened to Christianity? How do we match up with the faithful of other religions? Do we act out what we say we believe?
Jesus affirmed the Old Testament law in Matt 22: 37- 40 when he said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
The cancerous heresy of the prosperity "gospel" is being promoted by preachers all over the media, promising people that God wants them to be rich, free from any diseases and free from any problems. They never seem to preach about Jesus saying "take up your cross and follow me" (Matt. 8:34) or "In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world." (Jn. 16:33). I have yet to ever hear a salvation message from one of these shysters, calling people to repent and put their whole trust in Christ... and thereby gaining peace with God, perfect forgiveness of sin, the daily blessing of the Holy Spirit, discovery of their true identity and purpose in life, the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5 :22) and eternity in the perfect bliss of heaven.
Evidently, people would rather trade a little gold around their fingers in this ephemeral life for walking streets of gold in eternity. This heresy is uniquely suited to a comfort worshiping, solipsistic, materialistic people who only want a God who affirms their greedy its-all-about-me dreams. Instead of loving God, they love themselves.
We Anglicans vow at baptism to "renounce Satan and all the forces of wickedness that rebel against God, the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, and all sinful desires that draw us from the love of God." This last vow includes, I think, greed dressed up in a pseudoGospel form. Christians need to be so immersed in the true Gospel that these counterfeits are obvious. Of course this means we must take the time and effort to know the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New testaments- the Word of God. And this requires a commitment beyond the cultural norm of God-as-a-hobby.
We Anglicans take vows before God and each other to "continue in the apostles teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers" which means we will be in the Lord's house every Sunday unless providentially hindered. But to vast armies of folks who consider themselves Christian, this vow really isn't a vow. Its just pretty words we say. Our lives reveal our real vows. We will continue in the apostle's teaching and breaking of the bread... "unless there is something else I want to do," or "unless my kid is involved in a Sunday morning sporting event."
Do we not know that the kids are watching and learning a huge lesson about integrity, honor, faithfulness and courage? Do we forget that God is paying attention? Do we see how our culturally sanctioned faithlessness discredits Christianity itself?
I have a dream that some day the Church is going to wake up, discover the unsurpassed joy of being a full-on disciples and take a stand for Christ. I would love to see more and more Christians be unapologetic and uncompromised in their faith. I would love to see a movement started called "Taking Back Sundays" where Christian parents vow (perhaps on a website)) to not have their kids involved in any sports on Sundays. Worship, fellowship, rest, recreation (as in family and friends doing things that are in order with the commandment to make the Sabbath holy) and time for prayer and contemplation would be the order of the day, affording us time to delight in the two Great Relationships- Loving God and loving neighbor.
Christians would be known as a people having the integrity to live out what they say they believe. And in a culture that grows darker and darker, our light would shine!
What do you think? I would love to see your comments.
Still in training,
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