27 Feb 2005
A missionary recently made the stunning comment that China currently has as many Christians as the U.S. Fifty years ago there were 3 million Christians in China, today 70 to 80 million. How glorious. When God recounts the story of His works in the world someday, one gets the feeling that he won’t be focusing on politics and the Oscars. The far more eternally-important things are going on beneath the radar of most of us, including the media.
23 Feb 2005
Christians on Talk Shows
A talk show tonight included a debate between a representative from a Christian morality group and a lawyer for an immoral commercial operation. As is so often the case, the Christian was banal, shrill, and prone to interrupting, hardening the opposition and edifying no one. Another lost opportunity to plant a seed.
For example, the man representing the opposing side said that the last he checked, the thing he advocated was legal. The Christian’s response was to call the guy, in so many words, a loser. Instead of being self-righteous like this, why not say “Ok, I’ll grant that it’s legal, but is it right for you to advocate such things just because it’s legal?” Or perhaps gently ask him what he thinks about Luke 17:1-2 (Then [Jesus] said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”)
12 Feb 2005
Forbes article on tithing
The publisher of Forbes, Rich Karlgaard, has an interesting article on tithing . There are arguments pro and con on whether this Old Testament practice is required of Christians today (I vote yes), but perhaps a unifying point is that we should put our money where our mouth is. By tithing, we put our money in a heavenly vault that will never be broken into by thieves, and we invest in a currency that will never be eaten by inflation. We express faith that God offers riches now and forevermore that are far superior to anything offered by the world.
Tithing creates a sense of peace, because our wallet is in alignment with what we believe. If you asked longtime tithers, the guess is that they would rather be beaten with a truncheon than quit tithing.
08 Feb 2005
The Idolatry of Politics
Had I been a journalist there, I should, I am sure, have spent my time hanging about King Herod’s palace, following the comings and goings of Pilate, trying to find out what was afoot in the Sanhedrin; the cameras would’ve been set up in Caesarea, not in Galilee, still less on Golgotha. -Malcolm Muggeridge
In politics, each day brings new tactics and positioning, one party continually seeking the upper hand. The cable shows drone on with repetitive talk and fabricated outrage to fill their time slots. People on message boards anxiously and angrily debate the appointment of a cabinet member, a person who will in 30 years time be as forgotten as someone from the Carter administration’s cabinet. They debate speeches that will be forgotten next week.
This hyper-focus on politics, this idolatry, has certainly increased with the rise of the internet. People blog day and night with a consistency as puzzling as it is tiresome. One transitory topic blows away, like a wisp of paper, and the caravan rolls on to the next one.
For many people, politics seems like an outlet to overcome their boredom and inaction, to connect with something larger than their lives. But what would happen if we gained everything sought from it? Perhaps it would improve our lives, but it wouldn’t bring ultimate joy to us or others. Politics isn’t capable of it (Psalm 146:3-4). There’s no salvation in it. Elections are part of God’s plan, but so are our everyday lives down to the minute details. Something that happened in your home today may be more important in eternity than the sum of what happened today in the halls of Congress, just as the faithful decisions of Abra(ha)m of Ur resound more thoroughly today than those of all the Mesopotamian rulers combined. Perhaps we are indeed missing Golgotha by focusing on Herod.
01 Feb 2005
Jack on Security
Lewis from The Problem of Pain:
The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from usâ€¦ but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in the world and [pose] an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.