I find two things especially challenging in nurturing spiritual life: One, prayer, and, two, living in creative antagonism to the culture around me. I use the word creative because I must be in the culture, and positively so. And, I say antagonism because very little in the culture actually nurtures the life of Jesus in me.
The culture that God has called me to live in is an opiate against many of the commands for life given to me by my Heavenly Father. I came to Jesus for salvation, but I continue to submit to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit because I know that while I live in this world and its culture, God wants to transform me into the image of His son, Jesus.
The history of Israel in the Old Testament is a reminder of just how easy it can be to be duped into living the lie of the culture. The Old Testament prophets are symbolic of the need to continually submit ourselves to building awareness to God and His word.
The “sixteen Hebrew prophets provide the help we so badly need if we are to stay alert and knowledgeable regarding the conditions in which we cultivate faithful and obedient lives before God. For the ways of the world—its assumptions, its values, its methods of going about its work—are never on the side of God. Never.”
In commenting on this problem in relationship to Hebrews 10:24f, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together ...” Oswald Chambers says, “We are all capable of being spiritually lazy saints. We want to stay off the rough roads of life, and our primary objective is to secure a peaceful retreat from the world. The ideas put forth in these verses from Hebrews 10 are those of stirring up one another and of keeping ourselves together. Both of these require initiative — our willingness to take the first step toward Christ-realization, not the initiative toward self- realization. To live a distant, withdrawn, and secluded life is diametrically opposed to spirituality as Jesus Christ taught it.”
Chambers has caught the crux of the challenge. We are saved by God out of this world in the sense that, having been judged in the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, we will not be condemned with it at His return. But, we are still in it until He decides that we are no longer to serve Him in it. And, while here, He is anticipating our fully redeemed state by building us into the image of His Son. Redemption is for eternity, but transformation is for time, this time we live in.
We are in the world, and as I said, positively so. That is, we do not hide from it, but embrace life as He gives it. All the while, we remain vigilant to the fact that while in it, we must not be dominated by it. The world is in the immediate hands of Satan. And so, much authored by him and sin, is diametrically opposed to the ends for which God created this earth. But, God still designs for me, growing victory and transformation in spite of this. I must choose His sovereign power over the immediacy of Satan’s temporary influence on this world.
What exactly am I choosing in order to experience growing transformation. There is much to choose. But, the words of Paul to Timothy frame for me a beginning. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” I Timothy 6:17-19
Watch out for the hidden dangers of wealth!
Paul understood just how powerful and seductive the culture around us can be. If the tangles of the culture, especially as expressed in wealth, were easy to recognize, there would be no need for warning. But, opiate is the correct word for it. For it appears as something reasonable, necessary, or even mandatory. But, in its clutches comes slavery. I am not saying that culture is sin. But, the sin that culture can and does carry, brings with it more than just how we order life. It brings with it, the seductive challenge to organize life without God.
Specifically, Paul points out three messages inside of wealth that are not true.
"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant."
The culture that we live in wants to condition us to believe that some how the wealth that comes to us, we deserve! Paul says the opposite. On all sides, we are bombarded through the mass marketing of a worldview that wants us to be the ultimate consumers. They want to influence not simply the buying and selling of commodities, but our expectations.
It comes at us all of the time. That car, you deserve it. That new house, you deserve it. That new job, you deserve it. That retirement, you deserve it. Even incredibly, that new church, you deserve it! Being able to buy and use it, is not the problem from the Bible’s point of view, as we will see later in this same passage. But, allowing the culture of wealth expectation to convince us that we have done something to deserve what we can afford to buy, is the problem!
".....nor to put their hope in wealth"
Again all around us comes the consumptive message. Thirty-year loans, lifetime warranties, built to last, are slogans meant to seduce us into ignoring the obvious: nothing is build to last! But, that is the dream that Man wants to believe, that the world around us has been here for mega-billions of years, and will be here for billions more. And, if Man can learn to dominate the essences of life in DNA and genomes, then Man too can live longer. It is the epitome of the hope of Man, that his significance will be defined in his humanity, its creations and possessions, and not in his likeness to the image of God within him.
"....but to put their hope in God."
All that we end up creating and possessing was never intended to be a substitute for the eternal hope that God has promised. This may be the most damaging of the trilogy of lies: that there is anything that can actually take the place of the God vacuum in the deepest recesses of the human life. In spite of the Bible’s clear declaration that we are created in the image of God, were intended for relationship with Him, find our meaning defined in Him, and, can live with Him forever after this life, Man finds this message repulsive
As Paul says in Romans 1:18-20, “But God's angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse." (The Message)
What is it about this kind of "substitution" of Man’s desires that makes it so lethal? Romans 1: 21-25, “What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand. So God said, in effect, “If that's what you want, that's what you get.” It wasn't long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes! (The Message)
How can we combat the pull of this worldview?
Embrace God's gifts and enjoy them. In verse seventeen of I Timothy 6, Paul says that God, "...richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" The world as we know it, even much if not all that Man has created out of it, comes from the mind, heart and will of God. He has not made it to be a curse, but to be a blessing. This is the promise of God to His people Israel through the prophet Isaiah. “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins, If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again. If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don't use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God's holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,' making money, running here and there. Then you'll be free to enjoy GOD! Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all. I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.” Yes! GOD says so! Isaiah 58:9-14 (The Message)
God placed us in this world for a purpose. And, while pursuing that purpose, He supplies the wealth of the world around us. And, to us He says: enjoy my creation! But, the enjoyment of this world comes with conditions of use. Not because there is a limit to the joy that God wants us to experience. But, because He knows the source of true joy!
And so, Paul adds the defining touches to enjoying what God so freely gives. One, enjoy them by USING them to do good. "Command them to do good." But, what is good and how can we use wealth for good?
Maybe a place to begin is by asking ourselves, “What is a good deed?” A good deed is something that we do that resounds to the benefit of someone else, even, and most importantly, when I get nothing back for it. In I Timothy 5:10, Paul gives Timothy advice about how to handle widows in the congregations. In deciding which of the widows really needs congregational help, one of the criterion is widows who, “have a reputation for helping out with children, strangers, tired Christians, the hurt and troubled." (The Message) Look for widows who find is easy to do good deeds, we might say.
Why are such deeds so important? This is a question especially unique to people of the wealth of western culture, even Christian ones. We have defined faith so theologically that we miss the words of James, and wrongly conclude that they are in antagonism to the words of Paul. Faith for us has become so personal, and so one-dimensional, what I confess with my mouth, that we have failed to see the natural demand for transformation that comes with true faith.
The words of Jesus are clear in this case: good deeds are the power of the incarnated good. "Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand— shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16, The Message)
Paul goes on to define what he means by good deeds in three ways.
Convert what you possess to the benefit of others: "to be rich in good deeds."
Let your life grow in the abundance of actions that you take in the normal course of life that benefit other people. Or to put it another way, be in the habit of converting what you possess into actions that benefit other people. Notice that I say “in the normal course of life.” If the transformation that begins with salvation means anything, it means that over the course of my life, learning to listen to God in His word, learning to respond in obedience as my first reaction and learning to therefore decide to do things in a Jesus way, I grow in a new default position.
I begin my Christian life with much of the old flesh still in place, especially in my default actions. But through the residency of the Holy Spirit, time spent listening to God in His word, predetermined to be obedient to all that He teaches me, and, with the encouragement and correction of other trustworthy believers, God trims the default actions of the flesh and builds new desires, new directions and new actions. I begin the Christian life still thoroughly self-centered. Over time, God grows a new centeredness in my life. One that reflects our master, Jesus, who taught us that, it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
And, so, I willfully cooperate with the spirit of the words of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit within me, converting time, space, money, assets, etc. to the benefit of others. I share with them what previously I would have believed only belonged to me, and (maybe) those close to me. No unredeemed person would think it strange that I reserve “things” for me. Indeed, they would think it strange that I did not reserve these things for myself as the first order of priority. But, with the new thinking that God is building within me in place and growing, not starting my apparent possession of these things with a share attitude is strange.
Paul says that we practice good deeds when we give things away: "and to be generous."
Some things we share, but some of those same things, we give away. There is something almost mysterious about deciding to give away things that we hold precious. This is exactly what Paul means when he says be generous. Giving away what I can afford to give away is not generosity; at least it is not Christian generosity. But, allowing God to build a new default in my life, and from that growing posture, giving away what costs me, what I would naturally prefer to keep for myself, is different.
Again, the words of Jesus as recorded in Acts 20:35 set the standard: "In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (NIV)
The old standard is to clutch strongly to what belongs to you. The new standard is to hold everything lightly. Some of it we retain use of, but we are always converting it to the benefit of others. That is, even while we retain “ownership” of it, we do so only as a steward to the benefit of others who use it. Some of it we simply need to release control of and give away.
The third definition by Paul of what describes a good deed is, "willing to share."
In this case, I not only retain the “ownership” of the thing, but I retain a regular involvement in the use of it as well. Notice that there slight differences in each one of the definitions that center in on the essence of our challenge. But, there are common fundamentals behind each as well.
The fundamentals are the core of our challenge. Wealth is one of the most visible facets of the culture we live in. The Bible does not teach that wealth is wrong. But, wealth is one of the touchstones of the “success” definitions of the world we live in. And, as such, is one of the primary carriers of a culture that would like us to live life with no reference to God.
This is why Paul also warns Timothy in 6: 6-10: “Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (New Living Translation)
The culture we live does not want us to have a correct appraisal of wealth; it wants us to reflect the distortion of the culture in our acquisition, disposition and retention of wealth. It wants us to believe that acquiring such wealth is a desired goal of life. It wants us to believe that the disposition of wealth, because it is “ours” is solely up to us. It wants us to believe that the retention of wealth, for ourselves in “retirement”, or our family, in our death, is an appropriate obsession of life.
God’s word calls us to other conclusions. Acquisition of wealth is not the goal of life, for “man shall not live by bread alone.” Disposition of wealth is not “ours”, for we have been bought with a price, therefore honor God with your body (and of course, everything that goes with it!) The retention of wealth is not an appropriate obsession of life, for, we did not bring anything into this world, and therefore we will carry nothing out from it.
"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you (Matthew 6:25-30, New Living Translation)
In essence, the culture around us wants us to live life from a self-centered point of view. Wealth is a centerpiece to this call. But, it is not the only aspect of the call. Because self is at the center of the cultural issue, time, possessions, money, gifts, space, and anything else that can be thought of as defining or belonging to me, is included. “I”, and a few others that I deem close enough, are the center to my quest for personal significance and anything that will enhance this or make it more user friendly.
But, God calls those of us who have been crucified, buried and resurrected with Jesus to live differently. At every point, we live in the culture, but we are not completely of the culture. Those things that define the cultural ways of doing things are always in the eye of examination of the Spirit and the Word. Of course most things are totally neutral. But, other aspects of the culture: how we think, what we value, how we define meaning, etc., are always in need of critique. And, nothing is in more need of critique than our culture’s attitude to wealth and the fundamental ways of looking at our life that surround it.
It is good for us to agree with God by choosing to act differently than our culture in relationship to wealth and its culture. The definitions of worth and self that come from what we possess apparent power over: i.e. the wealth of time, money, possessions, space, etc., are diametrically opposed to the definitions that God gives to them. So, Paul challenges us. What I possess, I possess as a steward only and work to convert it to the benefit of others. What I possess, I need to share, even while retaining use. What I possess, in some cases I need to give away.
As I choose to obey God rather than, and in antagonism to, the culture around me, I discover God’s promises. From I Timothy 6 we receive two immediate blessings. One, we find ourselves investing in the bank of heaven. In that bank, there is eternal investment, as Jesus says in Matthew 6:19-20, "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves.”
How desperately we need to be regularly reminded that we were not made for this world. The one God made and intended us for was lost with the sin of Adam and Eve. The one we were intended for will be restored some day, as so much of the Scriptures promise. Until then, we are sojourners passing through this place, but also given a task. That task is to participate in the restoration of people from every tribe, tongue and nation to relationship to the Heavenly Father. Our true investments, made through obedience to Jesus and the Spirit, are stored in the only bank that counts. The one in heaven!
Two, we discover true life. Man was not made to be self-centered; he was made to be in fellowship and service to his Creator. When we most cooperate with this intention, first coming to salvation, and second, submitting to life-long transformation, we begin to taste the joys that God has always intended for those who love Him.
This is why a consistent appraisal of the culture I live in and its effects upon my expectations and my actions is so important. Behind wealth, what are some of the categories were the world wants to define my joy in antagonism to God’s eternal definitions?
Issues of Antagonism to our Present Culture
Personhood - Who am I?
Man is born with the quest for personal definition. Who am I? This is a question that has haunted generations of mankind. Today more than ever people who begin with absolutely no God consciousness dominate the root discussion about this question. No God consciousness means that there is little to no distinction between Man and anything else in the universe. Little wonder that Science has found it so easy to convince a generation that we are nothing more than evolved, sophisticated monkeys. And, with this philosophical presupposition also comes the devaluing of human life sociologically. Little wonder that the most educated generation of humankind also finds cruelty also so prevalent.
By contrast, God's design is the mirror opposite of this homogenizing of the human creation. "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV)
God gives to each of us individuality and personality in distinction and diversity from all others who were before, are now with us, or, will come after us. David understood this. “Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them— any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! (Psalm 139: 13-18, The Message)
Meaning - Why do I Exist?
Quick on the heels of who am I, is why do I exist? If I embrace the world’s preferred definition for who I am, then there is no real reason, beyond chance, that I exist. Nihilism is true to its roots. For if I am nothing more than a sophisticated monkey, evolved by chance and random selection, then there is No one out there, and there is nothing beyond this life. What I get out of this one is all I get. If it happens to be full of misery and toil, so be it. If I happen to gain opportunity and wealth, so be it. Enjoy it will you can!
But again God's design is far more specific and grand: He has intended His unique human creation to live in relationship to Him and representation of Him! "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV)
For the believer, this truth is all consuming. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for (each of) us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1- 2, NIV)
"No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing." (Ephesians 2:10, The Message)
“The heaven of heavens is for GOD, BUT he put us in charge of the earth. Dead people can't praise GOD— not a word to be heard from those buried in the ground. But we bless GOD, oh yes— we bless him now, we bless him always! Hallelujah!" (Psalms 115:16-18 The Message)
Marriage - Where do I Begin to Build Life?
It is hardly surprising that a generation that has difficulty embracing who it is and why it exists will also have difficulty understanding the importance of martial relationships. We ought not be shocked to see ever-evolving definitions of marital relationships wandering further and further from Biblical definitions. And, the further they wander from Biblical definitions, the more they will suffer the consequences. If the Bible is right, then true joy comes not from defining God out of life, but from living life in full concert with God’s designs. Man will forever search to find human solutions to disobedience to the divine creation. And, will fail!
God's design is for men and women to be able to live fully in their unique personhood and pursue their meaning in cooperation with a significant other...NOT alone!
"GOD took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order. GOD commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead.” GOD said, “It's not good for the Man to be alone; I'll (I WILL) make him a helper, a companion.” So GOD formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn't find a suitable companion. GOD put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. GOD then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man. The Man said, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.” Therefore a man (when he finds her) leaves his father and mother (leaves behind one family) and embraces (begins a new family) his wife. They become one flesh." (Genesis 2:15-24 The Message)
A new symbiosis is begun. Physically and spiritually they combine to produce something unachievable alone! One flesh physically in children. And, one effort spiritually in fulfilling their purpose to represent God.
Family - What Difference Will My Legacy Make?
Legacy talk abounds, and even in the most unexpected places. Coaches coming to the end of their coaching life are now building their legacy. Presidents in second terms are building their legacy. Wealthy people giving away portions of their wealth are building their legacy. But, are these things really the stuff of which legacies are built? In another 100 years will anyone care who coached more wins, or, who made political decisions? To say nothing of who even notices the pictures or statues of supposed great ones who donated money for this museum or that building?
But, not in God's design!
"Don't you see that children are GOD's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!
Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep." (Psalms 127:3 The Message)
"Our children and their children will get in on this as the word is passed along from parent to child. Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news— that God does what he says." (Psalms 22:30 The Message)
A Living Example
As I get older, and watch family members and friends move from this life to the next one, I have had opportunity to ponder the difference in some lives as compared to others. I find myself wondering, “What was it about the legacy of Al, Truman and Nancy? Al Telford was a long-term friend. Truman Smith was my father. And, Nancy Parkinson was my mother-in-law. There are at least six things that I saw in each of them that inspires me.
- It was the things I saw in them! Chief among all the values, decisions and commitments they lived, was the regular practice of listening to God in His word. I can still see in my mind’s eye places and moments when I found each hunched over God’s word, or on their knees in prayer. It is little wonder that they were such consistent people. They knew what God had to say, and were prepared to obey.
- It was the length of years I saw these things in them! These disciplines were not just the new fad or new seminar discovery. Each had spent a lifetime practicing relational disciplines with God and His word. Their default position in so many areas of their lives had been reset.
- It was the explanations they gave! When you asked them why this or that, the answer was almost always of the same root. They had read God’s word, responded in obedience, and knew that this was the best, indeed only course.
- It was the intensity with which they held their convictions! These relational disciplines and the obediences that flowed from them were not just opinions. They were lifetime commitments steeled in quite moments of reflection upon the choices that life affords. Out of these repeated moments came steeled conviction.
- It was the habits they developed! Specifically, I saw three that I think made the difference. They knew how to be alone. In a busy world clamoring for attention, we may be deluded into thinking that there is no quiet space. But, there always is if one wants it. And, these people proved it. Then, as I have already referred to, they knew how to have relationship to God, not just a set of convictions about him. Finally, they learned how to listen to God in His word. Their confidence in the Bible was unwavering.
- It was their extraordinariness through the ordinary of their lives! None of them were especially important people in the world, nor even in the Church world. But, their lives incarnated the realities of someone walking with God. And, this incarnation of Jesus in them was the extraordinary!
What Do We Learn From Them?
I find four things that I captured from their lives. Things upon which I regularly reflect and commit once again to be more like them, good finishers!
First, the roots of life are developed in the disciplines of the private: solitude, listening to/in Scripture, and relationship to God. The world wants to keep me busy, attempting to convince me that if I am busy, I must be happy. But, God wants to build deep wells of strength to live life to the fullest of meaning and purpose, not just be happy. And, this takes maturity. Maturity developed in long, deep, quiet moments with God and His word. There may be no place more vulnerable to the opiate of the culture around us than this: we are too busy to spend time with God. Yet, nothing else will compensate for it!
Second, one has to be in relationship to others to significantly impact the way they think and live. Our evangelical propensity to events, even the weekly event called worship, deceives us into believing that something significant has happened. But, such public places are not where the real work of witness or discipleship is accomplished. We are capable of only a relative few deep relationships. So, pick them wisely and invest significant time for maximum benefit.
Third, the longest lasting convictions or values are in significant antagonism to the norm around us. There is no way around this conclusion. We are called to live in the world, but don’t ever be deceived: this world is in antagonism to God. So the Bible resounds with warnings, to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God.
Fourth, life in its ordinariness is the crucible for extraordinary discipling. Again, this flies in the face of the programmatic forms of Christianity in the Church today. The power of the Church is its people, and the very ordinary lives that they life every day. The public faces bear no power at all in comparison to the power of God incarnated in His people in every conceivable, ordinary nook and cranny of daily life.
We have a great weakness in and among us that misses the eternal and therefore strategic value of our lives. How we live, in connection to what we say is a powerful redeeming instrument in the hands of the Spirit of God. Maybe more so today in a culture marketing the ultimate significance of what one possesses.
I conclude with the words of the Apostle Peter, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. (1 Peter 2:11-12 The Message)