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Sunday, June 9, 2019

"Worshiping God Better"


In His 1968 book "The God Who is There", Francis Shaeffer tells the story of his encounter with a pastor and their discussion about various matters he termed “intellectual rather than devotional.” At the end of the discussion, Shaeffer, believing that the pastor would say something related to what they had discussed such as “thank you for helping me be a better evangelist,” was completely surprised by what the pastor said in closing their exchange. "Thank you for opening these doors for me, now I can worship God better." Although Shaeffer was taken aback by the comment, he nevertheless says that, not only was he glad that he had been used by God to bring about that result in the life of the pastor, but he understood why that had been his reaction. 

As we contemplate a world that is rapidly going from bad to worse, it is essential that we, the people of God, do not lose sight of the things that truly matter. As I often heard when I was in the military, it is critical for us to "keep the main thing, the main thing." In other words, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that we're not allowing the minutiae of the world around us to infringe on our lives to the extent that we get lost in a sea of the trivial. Sure, there are a lot of things that are important. Just because certain issues may not necessarily have eternal consequences, does not mean that they do not matter. But there are things that matter, and then there is one thing that truly matters. 

We seldom think about it in such terms, but we need to stop and think about our lives with an eternal perspective. "How does this activity, job, action, affect my ability to worship and serve God the way He demands and deserves"? Are we so caught up in our lives and what happens to us that we fail to worship and glorify God? Are our lives so much centered on our children and their "accomplishments" that we fail to teach them the truth of Christ? Simply telling them that they should be saved while at the same time giving them the idea that what happens in this world is what matters most, is failing them in the worse possible way.

One thing that you quickly realize when you read the writings of the theologians of years gone by, is that they too had to confront and fight the encroachment of the world on the church. You will often read their bemoaning of the cultural drift that was taking place in their day. Society, they will tell us, is profane and no longer has respect for the laws of God. He no longer held a place in their society and it showed in how that society became more debauch and perverse. As the wise man said "there is nothing new under the sun." The problems that we face today, have been faced by all Christians throughout history in one way or another. We need to stand with them and fight the rottenness that is destroying our very souls. In a society that has lost its collective mind, we must be the voice of sanity. The people of God are the only ones who can!



2 comments:

  1. You write above: "You will often read their bemoaning of the cultural drift that was taking place in their day. Society, they will tell us, is profane and no longer has respect for the laws of God. He no longer held a place in their society and it showed in how that society became more debauch and perverse. As the wise man said "there is nothing new under the sun." The problems that we face today, have been faced by all Christians throughout history in one way or another..."

    There is certainly parity between then (whatever past era) and now in that sin and it's consequences ever plague men. There is parity that fallen men have always hated righteousness, and ever will. And though there is nothing "new under the sun" in a foundational sense, I cannot believe that in an absolute sense. For instance, as to the murderous tendency of wicked men, there is nothing "new under the sun." But a terrorist detonating a nuclear bomb in a crowded Western city would be "something new under the sun" compared to a sword led attack of 300 hundred years ago. Likewise, various forms of abortion and infanticide have existed throughout history - yet the "clinically clean" ruthlessly efficient, and widely championed abortions of today is something "new under the sun" relative to their counterparts of ages gone by if only by way of expediency and almost universal acceptance.

    Curiously, when it comes to persecution of Christians, at least generally speaking in the West, we have not begun to suffer as many of those who came ahead of us in the faith, particularly in the U.S. and modern Europe. For the most part, we in the West merely face nuisances relative to our faith, not outright persecution. And many of us don't even really endure even that, so fundamentally cozy are we with our surrounding culture.

    I believe the sense that "there is nothing new under the sun" relative to all this is NOT absolute parity, for that is easily disproven. Rather, those that love what is sinful and wicked still love will ever love those things - and in their collective disdain for God and His people, "there is nothing new under the sun."

    Even in your article, you are not arguing (apparently) for absolute parity for you say "As we contemplate a world that is rapidly going from bad to worse...." Things cannot be getting worse and yet be the same as in the past!

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    1. You are right that when we say there's "nothing new under the sun" we can't mean it in the absolute sense. After all, there are lots of new things that have come about just in the last generation, never mind throughout history. In this context, when I speak of there being nothing new under the sun, I'm simply referring to the fact that the battles that we're fighting today and the challenges that we're facing have been faced, for the most part, by previous generations. The nature of the challenges may change, but the fact that our faith is under constant attack has not. Our society has enjoyed a time of freedom that the rest of the world has never seen. But even that is coming to an end.

      There is no doubt the the rapidity with which our current society is sinking into darkness is breathtaking. But when you consider what sins are being promoted and celebrated, as the saying goes "we have been here before." I think that the one thing that is really new is the fact that for us here in the U.S. this is quite undiscovered country. We look at it and we are appalled precisely because it is so new to us. There's a great danger in that because we really have no experience knowing how to deal with these issues first hand. That's where studying those who have come before helps us in our current struggles. We don't need to reinvent the wheel because others have laid that groundwork for us. We simply need to appropriate that learning and apply it to our particular situation.

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