Thursday, October 21, 2010

Did I Play a Part in the Recent Economic Slowdown?

The leech has two daughters. 'Give! Give!' they cry. Proverbs 30:15.

Like mother, like daughter! And the leech kids had the perfect teacher. It’s easy to fall into this mode, it’s instinctively our default position to look after number one. In fact, humans have always defined themselves by selfishness or benevolence, or an awkward combination of the two. Western culture has swung towards self-interest as Christian faith loses ground, and a culture of entitlement replaces it.

It was an honest work ethic, promoted by the Christian culture of the time, which created prosperity in the early part of the last century—despite two world wars. The current prosperity of the western world depends less on work that creates wealth, and more on credit driven by entitlement—a far shakier foundation. This can have dire consequences for our society

While selfish acquisitiveness on the part of unscrupulous bankers is blamed for the recent downturn in world economies, the population is not innocent. Currently, for instance, French unions are creating turmoil trying to prevent the government raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. Other countries offer retirement at 65!

Leeches will suck the lifeblood from their victims. How many of us are crying “give, give”?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Why Belong to a Church?

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47.

So many reasons not to belong to a church. Since I have found out so much about Christianity by reading the Bible, I can’t find a church that agrees with me. Churches are self-absorbed. I can be just as good a Christian without going to church. I am closer to God communing with nature than in church. And, of course, the old favourite: the church is full of hypocrites!

Apart from the fact that the church is a good place for hypocrites to be, none of the above reasons reflects a necessary facet of Christianity—to be with others. The above excuses, and most others, reflect an individualistic approach to living the faith, as though being a hermit, avoiding contamination from others’ faults and errors, raises the level of one’s spiritual life.

Of course, spiritual exercises taken alone are an essential part of the Christian life. Personal communion with God—whether in the country or the closet—corrects our distorted thinking and provides clearer insight into the nature of God. In our private times with God and His Word, we gain a greater sense of our sinfulness and God’s love toward us despite our sin.

This leads to the most difficult part of the Christian faith: reflecting God’s love and forgiveness to others. The closer we are to others, the more difficult it is to live with them! Every married person finds that out in short order. Similarly, living with imperfect human beings—even hypocrites—in a church environment can be just as difficult.

Today’s verse suggests that the early Church drew people by love for each another that ran counter to human nature and experience. That can’t be shown hermit style. My father used to say that God doesn’t wait for us to be perfect before He uses us or nothing would get done! And if we were all perfect, love wouldn’t be necessary.

It’s in our church family, with all its human challenges that we can best demonstrate the sacrificial love of Christ.