So, would you like to join me for a little cawfee tawk?
One of the things I am learning concerning Christian ministry is that, like the Christian faith, we strive for the ideal, but daily adjust. Anyone committed to living in covenant community can testify to that. We see through eyes of faith, but the actual working out of the vision (and I don’t use that word in a mystical way) will surely remind us, lest we forget, that we live in a fallen world marred by sin. Perfecting Christ in us takes time and patience. So does ministry. But in the process, we take comfort in the knowledge that God is at work accomplishing His eternal purposes –not the least of which is the sanctification of our souls.
I talk to so many Christians who are quietly, even unconsciously waiting for that “break through” moment — a turning point for which every day thereafter will be victorious and glorious. But is that really the Christian life? I think not. Here is a true saying, both sound and biblical. “It is easy to talk about the fruit of the Spirit while doing very little about it. So Christians need to learn that it is in concrete situations, rather than in emotional highs, that the reality of the Holy Spirit in their lives is demonstrated.”1
Actor Brad Pitt was noted earlier last week as making the following statement: “Gay marriage is inevitable. The next generation, they get it. It is just a matter of time before it becomes a reality.” First of all, gay marriage is not inevitable. In 1973, when the Supreme Court passed Roe vs. Wade, many believed the same thing. Yet here we are, almost 40 years later, and this issue is by no means over. Admittedly, there is much work that remains but not only is the battle still alive, there is ample evidence the tide is shifting. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. What I felt compelled to comment on was the profound arrogance of “the next generation, they get it” declaration. What Brad Pitt really is saying is, “Generations before us? They’re dumb. But us? We’re smart. We get it.” This is pure and unadulterated pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Brad Pitt is standing on spiritually dangerous ground and I pray that God grant him repentance before it’s too late.
Here’s something that I read earlier this week from a devotional blog called Out in the Deep. The posts are brief but they’re bursting with truth. If you don’t subscribe already, I encourage you to do so. “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12) The enemy invites us back to the good ‘ol days when the deeds of darkness were fun. Perhaps a vacation back to old patterns of thinking would do us some nostalgic good. Such suggestions are absurd. When was sin ever fun? When did disordered love ever enrich our lives? Who at the end of their days ever regretted that they did not explore vice more fully? There is no time for that. Get dressed and prepare for works of light. Here is our future, hope and fulfillment.”
And on this topic of walking in the light, Michael Horton shares his thoughts on what he calls, “the long war”. He writes, “The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is not, as is often suggested, that the former lives a “victorious life,” or that he “lives above all known sin.” Rather, it is that the Christian is at war within, while the non-Christian is not even aware of any conflict. The Christian houses two hostile forces. He is at once “justified and sinful,” pro-God and anti-God. And this war with oneself will never be resolved until we reach the Promised Land. As Alexander Whyte, the Presbyterian pastor of the previous century informed his congregation, “You will never leave Romans seven while I am your minister!” 2
I see so many people pursuing their own agenda and slapping the label “God” on it. In studying for our series on “Justification by Faith” I read something that struck me. And by the way, the text I will be using is Galatians. Did you know that Martin Luther called this book “the love of his life”? It was his “Katharina Von Bora.” He must have been one passionate man that he would regard a book in the Bible with the same affection he had for his wife! At any rate, consider this discussion of Paul (before his conversion) and pray that God would deliver us from any self-deception. “At the highest point of Paul’s zeal for God, Jesus appears to him before Damascus. When the resurrected Jesus appears to him, he does not say, “You know, Saul, you are doing pretty well; you are willing to sacrifice much. There is just a little left – would you please believe in me as the messiah.” Rather, as Paul encounters the living, risen Lord, he sees that the sum total of his life is opposed to God’s purposes. Everything he understood and did was opposed to the will of God. This was a radically shattering experience for Saul. The sum total of his great deeds on behalf of God – his great Pharisaic schooling, his wonderful zeal to do the word of God and live by it – ended up being utterly opposed to the purposes of God.” 3 Can anyone say, “Ouch”?
This Tuesday we commemorated the 11th Anniversary of 9/11. My memory of that day is vivid. I asked a young co-worker if he remembered where he was on that tragic day. When he told me he was a freshman in high-school, oh boy, did I feel old! It occurred to me then that a brand new generation – one that knows nothing of the 9/11 experience will soon replace the older one among the Wall Street rank-and-file. The human tendency is to forget. We are always one generation away from forgetting and this is why the Bible, in multiple places, commands us not just to remember but to tell. Christians, we must be faithful to tell the next generation of our great heritage in Christ Jesus! “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done” (Psalms 78:4).
That’s it for now friends. Remember to come back on Saturday to read Rosemary’s beautiful contribution to The Legacy Series. You will be strengthened and encouraged! I promise! 🙂
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:4-7)
1 James Boice quoted in Anders, M. (1999). Vol. 8: Galatians-Colossians. Holman New Testament Commentary (85). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
2 Michael Horton, Modern Reformation, Issue: “Pilgrim’s Progress: The Life of a Justified Sinner” Nov./Dec. 1996 Vol. 5 No. 6 Page numbers: 20-23.
3 Hans Bayer & Covenant Theological Seminary, Summer 2006. (Online Source)