Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving - A Primary Color

Thanksgiving is one of the primary colors that defines one’s relationship to God and to others. By its nature thanksgiving is relational in that you can’t thank nothing for something. I can’t say “thank you” to a void. Thanksgiving, the attitude and act of being thankful, must have an object; at least it must have an object in order to be rational, otherwise it is akin to asking the void a question.

            Of course, people do talk to the void all the time and so people engage in the rather absurd act of being thankful to nothing all the time, not reflecting on the absurdity of their actions. If one is not in relationship with the true and living God then who can one be thankful to? Who can one carry on a conversation of thanksgiving with? How can a person who believes that we are the products of time-plus-matter-plus-chance be rationally thankful? How can accidents of time and space produce something called thanksgiving? 

            If thanksgiving is showing appreciation, if it is acknowledging the blessing or goodness bestowed by someone else upon me, if it is – at a mundane level – gratefulness for a job well done or a courtesy extended such as opening a door; then to whom shall I say “thank you” to if there is no one to say “thank you” to? Why not say “thank you” when an automatic door opens for us? Why not say it loudly for all to hear? That would make as much sense as being thankful to the void or to some nebulous presence. 

            In Romans Chapter One thanksgiving is a primary color in the Creator – created relationship; when created humanity ceases to be thankful it falls into a downward spiral. In 1 Thessalonians Chapter Five thanksgiving is a primary color in doing the will of God, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Many folks who say they want to do the will of God don’t like that verse – they want to “do” something, anything, other than give thanks and “be” thankful.    
            I was with a group of people who were asked to indicate what they were thankful for since it is Thanksgiving – it was a syncretistic gathering. Speaking into the void, certainly some, perhaps many, were speaking into the void. 

            Is thanksgiving to the true and living God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, a primary color in our lives?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Worldview or A View of the World?

But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

            What do we do with a statement like this? The Cross of Christ not only deals with our sin, it not only deals with who we are (our sin nature), it not only deals with the Law; it also deals with our relationship with the world-system. We are dead to the world and the world is dead to us – not exactly a clarion call to transform something that has been judged. Now is the judgment of this world – John 12:31.

            And yet a significant element of the professing church is obsessed with the world’s politics, economy, and military events to the functional exclusion of the Gospel. In fact, in some quarters it is as if propagating a so-called Christian worldview has displaced the Gospel of the Christ of the Cross and the Cross of Christ. We appear to be more concerned with bringing people around to our geopolitical and economic views than we are with bringing people to know Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God and the Sovereignty of God have become small and Right-Center-Left has become big. It is as if Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the kingdoms of the world being smashed by the Stone cut without hands had never happened; it is as if Christ is but king of a fiefdom in competition with other fiefdoms, it is as if Christ is no longer King of kings and Lord of lords, it is as if there has been a heavenly abdication and we are left with a planet of anarchy.

            James writes that whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God, James 4:4.

            Now of course we’re not talking about the people of the world – we are here, in Christ, to be broken bread and poured out wine for our generation. We are talking about the world-system with its headwaters – including its economic headwaters, all of its economic headwaters – in Satan. Its values, its images, its vanity, its lust after possessions, its accolades – the things this world-system deems important are opposed to what God values. Not the political Right, nor the political Center, nor the political Left represent the Kingdom of God; not Conservatives, nor Moderates, nor Liberals mirror the Kingdom of God – Christ is King of the Kingdom of God and His Kingdom transcends all worldviews and political persuasions – and He is the focal point of His Kingdom – not morality, not ethics, not economics, not nationalism…not even a focus on the family.

            If no man can serve two masters, then we cannot serve the Kingdom of God and another system – even a moral and ethical system, even a patriotic system. We can work and serve within another system – even an overtly pagan system as Joseph and Daniel did – but we can only have one master.

            It isn’t that no one should serve two masters; it is no one can serve two masters.

            We don’t really need a worldview; we need a Biblical view of the world; and most certainly we need a view of the Kingdom of God.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Virus

It finally happened to me. I had been smug for far too long; the smugness is gone.  A virus mimicking Microsoft Security Essentials invaded and took control of my computer. It got me. My friend Brucie said, “Bobby, that’s a bad one.” Since Brucie is an IT guy I took those words pretty hard. 

            “Is there anyway I could have known it was a fake?” I asked. “It looked just like Microsoft Security Essentials.” 

            “No, you couldn’t have known. As a matter of fact most of the anti-virus products are still looking for a solution to it.”

            Brucie has my laptop and he’s going to clean it and put some high-grade protection on it. I had a few blog postings in “draft” on the laptop, not to mention other writing; he should be able to save my documents.

            My virus experience got me thinking about viruses we download into our thinking that look like the “real thing” but which aren’t. Just as the computer virus took over my laptop computer, so bad thinking masquerading as good thinking can take over our inner person. I was quick to realize I had a computer virus; how quick am I to recognize internal viruses in my thought life? 

            One of the viruses that I think we’ve downloaded is a preoccupation with the idea of a “worldview”. There are entire ministries and organizations built around the mission of articulating a Christian worldview. This looks good, it sounds good, but is it healthy? Is it healthy when it occupies center stage?

            I’m pretty sure I’m going to be misunderstood on this, and because of the limitations of a “blog” or even an extended article there is only so much I can do about being misunderstood, but I’m going to give this a try.

            In my last post I wrote about being in Detox vis-à-vis 24-hour news and talk radio; now I want to suggest that we should consider Detoxification from a preoccupation on worldviews, even from a Christian worldview. Sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? Is there hope for me?

            I think that instead of first asking, “What is a Christian worldview?” that we ought to be asking, “What is the Biblical view of the world?” and “What is our view of the Kingdom of God?”

            As to the latter, it seems to me that we have substituted the idea of a Christian worldview for the Kingdom of God. We are more tuned into current events and ideas than we are to the eternal Kingdom of our Father and Lord Jesus. I enjoy philosophy, but a philosophical view of the world should not take precedence over a Biblical view of the world; a Biblical view of the world should be the foundation of our philosophical view of the world – and both should be informed by our view of the Kingdom of God. 

            What is a Biblical view of the world? 

            Love not the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.          1 John 2:15-17.

            We know that…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 1 John 5:19

            Elsewhere in his first letter John writes about us overcoming the world – not transforming it. Jesus speaks about His overcoming the world. Therefore, while I am all for transformation whenever possible, I recognize that overcoming the world-system is clearly a facet of the Biblical view of the world and that the world-system, which is opposed to the Kingdom of God, is passing away.
To be continued…

Saturday, November 13, 2010



A few weeks ago I had lunch with a friend who shared that she was in Detox. Earlier that week I had coffee with another friend who has been in Detox for some time. I rejoiced with both friends in their Detoxification experience because, having been in Detox for a few years myself, I know what a great experience it is.
Both of my friends had pulled the plug on talk radio; both of my friends had pulled the plug on mainlining 24-hour news and an obsession with politics. Both of my friends were refocusing on Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. Their minds and hearts are experiencing cleansing and they are finding peace – knowing that all the political entities of this world are passing away.
I recently read the first line of a commentary by a well-known Christian leader, it went something like this, “I admit that I am a political junkie.” While, as Paul writes, to his own master he stands or falls, I’ll use that statement as a foil:
Here is a man whose ministry was once leading people to Jesus Christ. He wrote a best-selling book that consisted in his personal testimony of coming to Christ; he spoke to large audiences about coming to know Jesus Christ; his life and his ministry were unambiguously about Jesus Christ – no one else and nothing else shared center stage with Jesus.
But now? Well, I have a friend who has been forwarding this man’s commentaries to me for years and I can’t recall reading about Jesus – political agendas, economic agendas, and worldview agendas have become center stage and Jesus Christ has been eclipsed.
It seems we’d rather talk and think about prophetic things, economic things, and political things than think and talk about Jesus – than live for Him and for each other. As a pastor I learned that a primary source of anxiety among my people was the media – talk radio and 24-hour television news – whether it was from “right” or the “left” or the pseudo-Christian.
And so I rejoiced with my two friends in Detox. As for myself, well, even though I’ve been in it for awhile I’m still discovering things in my system that need to be purged…to be continued.