Sunday, February 05, 2012

What's the difference?

In this morning's Bible Study group we examined God's expectation that His people be holy -- not in the sense of smug self-righteousness (as it's all too often misunderstood), but rather a sense of separateness.  It stands to reason those who choose to walk with God should stand out in a world that roundly and loudly denies His authority...or even His existence:
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  Romans 12:2
We are not called to be “different for different’s sake,” but to display a difference that affirms our basic beliefs—that of trusting and pleasing God because we are His children.  A sincerely held belief that this world is under the dominion of evil and in ignorance of Truth, and that a means of escaping this bondage is available to any who will receive it, should have a clear effect on one's priorities and actions.  Sadly, every Christian struggles with this -- hence the warning not to be conformed to the world around us.  The Christian faith is not about comfort -- although it is comforting.  It's not about convenience -- though God's grace is always available when sought.  Most of all, it's not about self... which puts it squarely at odds with much of the modern American ethos.
I recently read an article entitled "An Evangelical Social Gospel?"  I've not read the book it reviews, but still found the discussion of the material interesting.  It seems part of our fallen nature is to elevate one trait of Truth over another, rather than seeing it whole.  Such would seem to be the case with 'evangelism' versus 'social work.'  If we're charged with loving our neighbor as ourself, that would include the entirety of their being -- mind, body and soul.  It does little good to preach to them while they're hungry and cold.  Conversely, how callous is it to feed and clothe a person, but dance around their need for Christ's atonement of their sin and separation from God?  For whatever reason, it seems the modern church emphasizes one or the other, not realizing both are integral to God's commission.

And only by combining the two can the Christian avoid being categorized either as a religious huckster or a guilt-ridden do-gooder.  Seeing through the eyes of the Lord results in a compassionate evangelism that should be unlike anything else a person may encounter.

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