Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Priorities Of A Christian

Jesus said that loving God is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38), and similar themes are found elsewhere in scripture (e.g., Proverbs 9:10). We should often ask ourselves how much we're improving the quantity and quality of our thoughts and others' thoughts about God. (For a discussion of some ways to go about doing that, see here. The post just linked is about evangelism, but has broader applications.) People often refer to improving a culture through something like political action, having more influence on the arts, or changing people's moral standards on a particular issue or series of issues. But how people view God is more foundational. If you want to change yourself and change the culture and the world for the better, start with how God is viewed.

To get some idea of how important it is to do that work, see here regarding the state of the culture. (The post just linked is mostly about the United States, but also addresses other countries to some extent.) Most Americans are so ignorant of the Bible (and other subjects) that they can't name the four gospels, among other religious information they're ignorant about. The Department of Labor just released its annual research on how Americans use their time. In 2020, Americans spent an average of 5.53 hours a day on leisure and sports and about 0.09 hours (around five minutes) on religious and spiritual activities. That doesn't mean everybody was involved in religious and spiritual activities, but only to a small extent. Rather, it looks like a large majority of Americans spend no or almost no time on such things, but that the higher level of activity among a small minority of the population raised the average. See the page just linked for further details. How much is God talked about in schools, in the workplace, on television, in the most popular music, on the most popular web sites, at family gatherings, etc.?

The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God….

But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well nigh unutterable names; he may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus, and all kinds of extinct animals; he may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind. I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. (Charles Spurgeon)

1 comment:

  1. "Most Americans are so ignorant of the Bible (and other subjects) that they can't name the four gospels, among other religious information they're ignorant about."

    Well, that puts to rest my question on why people like Ehrman think they can make claims that are refuted by some light reading.