Sunday, December 3, 2006

Challenge to change

This morning I’m going to challenge my ladies’ Bible class. We have been talking about world views and comparing them to theism. I’ve come to the conclusion that the way a person views God determines much of the rest of their view of the world. While that applies to Christians, I’m more interested in the objections against theism from people with other world views.

They say heady things like creation doesn’t need a first cause and ask who created God, but the two that the Christian church most needs to pay attention to are less intellectual and more practical. They say theists focus too much on spiritual matters and are useless in the world. They also accuse theists who, in the name of their absolute God, have committed terrible atrocities.

These are valid objections. They may not be talking about the Crusades and other historical issues; they could mean me or the believer who lives next door.

I tend to read and study God’s truth, and then think it is mine. Jesus says for a truth to be mine I must practice it. Spiritualizing His principles doesn’t cut it with Him or with critics of my theistic world view. I can take a black and white stand on things too. Oh, I’ve not gone to war and killed people over my faith, but I’ve shot a few verbally. I may have been right, but sometimes it’s more productive to be nice.

Non-theists object to the “pious” hypocrite who beats his wife or gambles on the Internet. They object to preachers who yell about a just war yet the side they are on is killing women and children. They object to people who talk the talk but their lives are mere shadows of what they say is the way. The Christian church needs vast changes to convince much of the world that there is one, infinite and holy Creator who loves the world and has the power to change it. How can that be true if we don’t change ourselves?

At the same time, I can be wholly ambitious about being a shining light yet have no power to do it. Humanly, I cannot change myself, never mind the way I live or the world that I live in. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

All Christian activity is useless unless Jesus is in it. I could impress the world with great philanthropy, or negotiate peace in the Middle East, yet if Jesus is not the source of my power, whatever I do would not bear fruit for the kingdom of God, nor would it promote a theistic world view.

My challenge to my class will be about changes we can make in the way we live to answer those two objections, yet along with that challenge we must remember that any real change must find its source and resource in the Vine. Apart from Him, we can’t even begin to answer the objections against us.

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