Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We Need to be Different

I just want to rant a little bit. I was at the park tonight (softball night). After Tami's game the team sat down at one of the park picnic tables and had pizza. There was a little left over and so it was given to us. We left it on the table and went to watch one of the other KCC teams play. We weren't that far away and I kept looking back at the table to make sure things were being left undisturbed.

It was about time to go and I noticed a group of teenagers eyeing the table. There were a couple of two liters and a box of pizza left on it. I just knew what they were thinking, and I probably should have walked over to the table as not to allow them to give into their temptation, but what's the fun of that!!! I'll repent later.

So just as I thought, two of them walk up to the table, each one grabs a two liter and one the spare cups and starts to walk off. I yell "Hey guys!" and they turn around and look at me. I nod over at the table and they replace the two liters and cups and begin to walk off as if it weren't any big deal. I call after them "If it's not yours don't take it" to which one of them replies "Either get rid of it or don't leave it sittin' around."

Wow!!! What an amazing response. They were saying, in essence, if it's left alone its fair game! If no one is there next to it then it is public. How amazing and how revealing!

What has happened to our culture? I still hear people talk about a time when they used to leave their doors unlocked and their keys in the car because people respected the property of one another, but in today's society, if it isn't locked up or is in such a way where someone can't take off with it, it has become fair game for anyone who wants it, and there is no remorse in the taking.

So why am I writing about this? Because it isn't just the way the world thinks, but it is also the way many Christians think. Statistics have shown that there isn't much difference between the non-Christian and Christian way of living. We have become too comfortable with our culture. We have fooled ourselves into thinking we are separate from the world when in actuality we are not.

One of our elders, Austin, wrote a short piece that I hope to post here that basically says the same thing. Many of us go to church to learn how to look and sound Christian. We fool ourselves into believing we are different, but our actions prove otherwise.

Let me give you a personal story. This happened a number of years ago, and I am ashamed to admit that I even did this. Shortly after Smith's installed it's self-check machines I allowed myself to do what the world does. I was watching the guy ahead of me as he finished scanning his items and paid with cash. When I got up to the scanner to scan my items I noticed that he had left his change (a few dollars). I thought to myself "He'll come back" hoping that he wouldn't, and he didn't. I didn't run out after him but justified my actions when I took his change and mine. "Well, he's probably to his car by now, and I'm not going to be able to catch him." Needless to say, I acted in the same manner as most people in this world would have acted.

This isn't an isolated incident and if we are honest with ourselves every single one of us has done something similar. Am I trying to make myself feel better? You bet!! But I am also speaking the truth.

Yesterday and today I did a SOAP study on 1 Thess 4:1-8. Today's little incident served to remind me of what Paul wrote. Let me repeat a bit of it for you. "Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know the instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification...control [your] body in holiness and honor, not in passion of lust like Gentiles who do not know God...For God has not called us for impurity, but for holiness."

This passage is talking about holiness in general and sexual purity specifically, but I think it can be applied to any kind of "passion" that leads us to live a life like that of the world. God has called us to be holy; to be set apart from the world. This isn't only to be done in the big things like sexual immorality but even in the small things like "white lying" and "taking something little." It is all the same in God's eye's.

My challenge to us is to be different from the world. We have got to develop a godly worldview where we see the world the way God sees it. In part we do have this view, but we continue to justify our actions. We take what we want out of Scripture and leave the rest there. Is it any wonder we live in a world where a part of Christendom likes to focus on the false view that God wants you to live a "victorious life!"

If we want to show people who Jesus is we have got to live radically different lives. The victorious life isn't a life of stuff, it is a life lived in imitation of Jesus. I challenge all of us to live "not in the passion of lust like Gentiles who do not know God" but to live passionately like those who do know him.

I was going to title this blog as "What Happened to Respect? It Starts with the Parents" but it turned in a different direction, but I do want to say this. Our children learn from us whether we consciously teach them or not. We need to live in such a way that they learn what is right and wrong based solely on God's word and not on personal "passions." In essence, it really does start with us. The state of a generation is in part the way it is because of the previous generation. We who are Christians need to be aware of this and raise the part we influence to be counter-cultural. We need to raise them to be like Jesus.

So where are you? Do you allow your personal passions to control you or do you allow your passion for God to influence your actions? Which one do you want?

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