Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Aimless, Meandering Christian

Because of fallen human nature, the nature of the culture in which we live, and other factors involved, it's important to frequently remind people what work needs done in religious contexts: missions, evangelism, apologetics, theology, philosophy, the sciences, the paranormal, Bible translation, etc. I've often cited the example of patristics. There's a steady stream of patristic documents being published in English for the first time, and many that have already been published for a long time haven't been studied or discussed much. Evangelicals can repeatedly come across patristic issues in various contexts - claims about the canon of scripture, claims about the authorship of the gospels, etc. - yet have little or no concern about researching those subjects or disseminating whatever valuable information they come across. Similarly, I've often discussed the need for Christians to do more work on the paranormal. And many other examples could be cited, some of which I've discussed in the past. What parents, pastors, friends, and other people in positions of influence - all of us - should be doing is reminding people from time to time what work needs done. Mention parts of the world where missionaries need to go, languages into which the Bible still needs to be translated, philosophical issues that need studied further, Biblical passages whose historicity needs studied and discussed further, and so on. And model the sort of work that needs done by doing it yourself and talking to other people about the work you're doing.

I often hear people, including professing Christians, commenting on how "bored" they are or expect to be in retirement, how they "can't find anything to do". They'll even go back to working a job that doesn't have much significance or retire later than usual. And the people who are finding things to do are typically doing things that don't have much value. It's commonplace to hear people talk about how concerned they are about the state of the culture and the world, then, five minutes later, refer to how they're going to spend the rest of the day watching movies, gardening, etc. They rarely or never refer to anything they're doing in contexts like the ones I've referred to in the paragraph above, and what they do refer to doing in such contexts tends to be of a lower rather than higher nature.

You ought to have specific objectives in mind to advance the kingdom of God in substantial ways. Aim for accomplishments "worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1) and run hard after them.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim" (1 Corinthians 9:24-26)

"In a corruption of sound doctrine so extreme, in a pollution of the sacraments so nefarious, in a condition of the Church so deplorable, those who maintain that we ought not to have felt so strongly, would have been satisfied with nothing less than a perfidious tolerance, by which we should have betrayed the worship of God, the glory of Christ, the salvation of men, the entire administration of the sacraments, and the government of the Church. There is something specious in the name of moderation, and tolerance is a quality which has a fair appearance, and seems worthy of praise; but the rule which we must observe at all hazards is, never to endure patiently that the sacred name of God should be assailed with impious blasphemy — that his eternal truth should be suppressed by the devil’s lies — that Christ should be insulted, his holy mysteries polluted, unhappy souls cruelly murdered, and the Church left to writhe in extremity under the effect of a deadly wound. This would be not meekness, but indifference about things to which all others ought to be postponed." (John Calvin)

1 comment:

  1. You reminded me of something I first noticed when visiting an aunt an uncle years ago. They pointed out that the community they lived in was age restricted to not allow children. The retired intentionally separated themselves from the youth. I'm sure many of them had grandchildren (my aunt and uncle did), but at the very least they removed the ability to unintentionally meet the younger generation.