April 22, 2015

Tools in The Toolbox II: Bottled Wind

As stated in the first post of this series, the context of this series revolves around what a person of God can add to their relational repertoire to properly help themselves and others in the church. What relational tools or ideas can a believer add or take away to aid them in supporting those in the church both physically, spiritually and in a relational manner? 

Knowing exactly what tools to have in your toolbox to do the job right the first time benefits the most people.

The second thing a believer should ask themselves is this:

Where do people tend to buy into an unbiblical world with its accompanying hopes and dreams?

An unbiblical worldview is an example of what a believer should avoid. This is where the rubber meets the road in the Christian walk. Asked another way, "Where do people accept the culture and what society deems appropriate when it is firmly and clearly against the Bible and what God deems appropriate?" The topics in the culture are multitude: Abortion? Adultery? Homosexuality? Licentiousness? Avarice or Greed? How about some of the lesser known sins like celebrity or cult of personality? Patriotism over God? And then there is the American favorite which is fierce individuality, autonomy and independence in a Church that calls for community and sacrificial love to others first.

The Church needs to remain distinct from the culture or it becomes extinct and irrelevant. This is just the opposite of what the culture will tell us or tell the Church. The culture will say that the Church needs to adopt and adapt to the culture to gain more respectability, members or relevance. To acclimatize and adapt to the culture makes the church no different than the culture. When the church ceases to be distinct it will become extinct because it will have no reason for existence. If the church becomes exactly as the culture it is no different than an enabler that takes the form of a motivational speaker. We already have enough of these in the form of the Joel Osteen’s and the pimping prosperity preachers that are literally a dime-a-dozen today on television and cable.

As I said before in other posts…

When we shape the church to the culture we end up shaping it around man's entertainment, man's business models, man's traditions and man's feelings. In this way we allow the spirit of Babylon instead of the Spirit of God to permeate and shape the Church. Instead of the church taking on the shape of a cross, it ends up taking the shape of black hole which sucks the life out of anything that comes near it. The shape of man creates a false church. The shape of the Cross creates salvation.The world says success, triumph and excelling. This is an illusion and when this superficial illusion is exposed for the empty promise that it really is, people are devastated and many never recover. The Scripture says success is on God's terms which is triumph through meekness and exaltation through humility.

The true path to the cross is through struggle and pain to reach triumph. There is no promise that the triumph will be in this life either. The Church needs to be transforming the culture, not the culture transforming the Church. The relevance of the true Church is its ability to show people a realistic view of life (warts and all), and help the downtrodden to overcome their trials within the Gospel. The true church shows how the Gospel is the true answer to people’s struggles in this life. The false church feeds people empty hopes, warped dreams and cultural platitudes that fall flat when a family member dies, becomes ill, when finances become lean or when relational problems seem insurmountable.

People struggle in their faith and they often lose faith. It never totally disappears it just wanes to the point that it becomes unrecognizable or it is difficult to function in a spiritual manner. These pitfalls must be avoided because they are damaging to our relationship with God and other people. We hear it in the echoes of Jesus down through the ages when he speaks to people like the disciples, “Oh, you of little faith.” The ideals and ideas of the culture in this day in age are not even remotely biblical. Where people would willingly embrace them over Scriptural commands and imperatives shows a complete disconnect of faith and shows pronounced disobedience.

If we believe the garbage the culture tells us and we hope, dream and depend on the culture’s promises…we will be let down. You know the mantras: Do this and in twelve easy steps you will have happiness. Serve yourself and look out for yourself and you’ll be fine. Money makes life comfortable and comfort makes life better. As long as mankind wants to believe there are simplistic answers, 10 step programs and solutions to problems they will continue to look for them and pay people to teach them the so-called "secrets of highly successful people". People that are successful according to the world. It’s all tripe. The Bible warned us of these types of false teachings and snake oil salesman long before the term snake oil salesman existed.

Dreams are exactly that…dreams. They are figments of our imagination. We need just as much faith to chase down the whimsy of our own imaginations as we do to have faith in the promises of Scripture. The difference lies in real history. We see the fruition of true faith in the disclosed or unfolded events of the Bible. Faith in God’s promises pays off real dividends in the Bible both spiritual (eternal life, blessing) and sometimes physical (health, well-being). Additionally, the only dreams that have had any validity in the Bible are the ones sent by God (Jacob, Joseph). The dreams in the Scripture need to be aligned with the principles of Scripture. If we have similar dreams and they don’t align with the Bible we can assure they did not come from God. We are better off pursuing biblical lines of reasoning and rest in the promises of God. Not only do they have a proven track record, they are proven to be spiritually beneficial.

Chasing the dreams shaped by the culture have us running ragged for that which is perishable instead of the eternity of God. We end up chasing the dragon/demon. When we chase the culture’s portion it is like trying to bottle the wind. In other words, we gain nothing and bottle nothing. We waste our time better utilized to chase God. It is similar to sowing wind to reap the whirlwind. The type of seed we sow determines the type of crop we harvest. If we chase empty meaningless dreams we will gain only empty meaningless outcomes. 

Hosea 8:7 ~ For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it.

It is ironic that Hosea's quote is a response to Israel's idolatry. This is exactly what the original question for this post points to. Remember what the original question asked? 

“Where do people tend to buy into an unbiblical world….?” 

What is really being asked here is this: Where do we derail from God’s will and pursue idolatry? Idolatry is anything that becomes more important than God and takes the worship and the attention that God rightly deserves. Anything that takes our attention off of God has to be considered an idol. By chasing the world we will certainly get the world…and the world really isn’t that much of a prize, is it?

There is no formula for happiness and normalcy in this life nor did the Bible give us that formula. There is Jesus Christ, there is the Gospel, there is Scripture, there is prayer and there is belief in the promises of God. Everything else is hard work, boots on the ground and callouses on the hands of faith. People want a miracle drug to lose weight and stay healthy…it’s called exercise and work and even that is  not a guarantee. Likewise people want a perfect life…the Bible said that doesn't exist on this side of the grave. The closest we will come to a perfect life on this side of a marble tombstone is through faith in the only One capable of living a perfect life and giving us one in return...Jesus Christ.

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