It’s so easy to blur the lines of our faith while trying to be culturally relevant.
What is the purpose for this Christian life?
In a recent blog post about “New Atheism” the author states, “Christianity, when it is taken seriously, compels its adherents to engage the world, not retreat from it.”
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Another way to say this is; WE GROW IN COMMUNITY & PURITY AS WE WALK WITH GOD.
Have you ever stepped in gum, or dog poop? Or lost your shoe in mud?
Depending on where you’re walking, you take that sticky muck with you, everywhere else you go. God wants us to be mindful of where we step.
Germ Warfare is kind of like that experience in the Christian life where we must be careful where we walk, otherwise we live no differently from the darkness.
– BE ENGAGING, WHILE NOT CONTAMINATED – THIS IS WHY EMERGENCY PERSONEL WEAR GLOVES. They can’t afford to be contaminated while helping others.
Apostle Paul calls it a spiritual battle – “warfare” for our soul. IT’S AN EVERYDAY BATTLE.
I experienced some great conversations this week. A friend of mine asked me some tough questions:
How does one know that someone is a Christian? By one’s words?
By one’s actions? The fruit displayed in one’s life? Wouldn’t you agree, for believers, there has to be some behavior boundaries? Is there some way to discern what grows our relationship with God, instead of moving us farther away from Him?
Jesus didn’t teach sin-management, rather he taught freedom to trust God.
But there are clearly some “fish-hooks” in the culture that lure us away from God.
Cultural toxins keep us from living in freedom before God. What are some of the toxins that have made their way into your life w/o you even being aware of it?
I call them Faith Purity-Barriers; philosophies that get in the way of our faith.
Our culture thrives on “self” rather than community. Since the advent of the garage door clicker – we close ourselves off from our neighbors. Mobile phones keep us connected, but separate from community. Even social networking strives for connection, but fails in real community.
Our culture thrives on “more”, rather than less. This barrier stops me from helping others, before I satisfy myself. – my needs come first. There’s a funny commercial AT&T called, “It’s not complicated.” I want more. I want more.
Our culture thrives on “things” rather than people. Different from consumerism, we look for “things” to satisfy us, which puts us into debt. We say, “If I just had _____________, then I would be happy.” (which doesn’t work). This video “falling plates” captures these thoughts well… watch this.
Jesus says, “I love you, Will you follow me?”
How do we follow Jesus in a life of purity?
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what HE wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, GOD BRINGS THE BEST OUT OF YOU, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:2 The Message)
Another way to look at this is through “Faith Purity-Filters” – clean living in a toxic world. Remember, it’s a spiritual warfare.
1. Am I being entertained by sin?
When am I the most tempted to fall into sin?
Are you able to recognize the trappings of sin? Is it a habit in my life?
Can I do something b/c I’m over 21? (yes)
Should I do it?
Is it good for me? Does it make my life more complete?
2. Is this behavior honoring to God?
Are you living a consistent life style – private vs. public behavior
Remember those bracelets “WWJD”? – When filtering… it’s still a good question.
3. Does this lure me away from Christ?
When I was 7, we lived in Petersburg, Alaska. During low tide at the ocean’s edge, our friends would take us on adventures. We would catch Octopus under rocks. Have you heard of this? They cling to rocks with all 8 legs and hundreds of tentacles. You can’t pull them off the rocks with all the strength anyone can muster. What’s the trick? “Bleach”. Shove a 4 ft. garden hose under a rock, the unsuspecting octopus wouldn’t think anything of it, until the bleach would come blowing down into their environment. They would release the rock and scramble for safety, only to be caught, … cooked… and eaten.
This is what sin does to us… we can hang on to the rock of Jesus with all 8 legs… but when the toxic “bleach” of culture enters our environment… we are lured away from our grip on the rock of Christ… then we’re cooked.
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Again, this is not sin management – we all know “that” sin is not good for us (I hope…)
We all know we “should” lose 10 more pounds… for healthy living…
I didn’t need my Doctor to tell me what I already know… just do it. I went to get my blood checked at the clinic this week. I sat down for the paperwork and receptionist says to me, “Do you want to declare a religion in case you were to ever end up here under other circumstances”. “What are my options?” “Well, it’s a long list, “Evangelical”, I said. So, she says, “covenant or free”? What’s the difference?
She said, “I’m Catholic”
“I never understood the “confession to the priest” thing,” I said.
She said, “Isn’t it easier to confess just to God? What’s he going to say back to you?” “It’s harder to confess to a real person, but it’s good for you.”
James 5:16 says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.”
The technician was checking for toxins, or contaminates in my blood for healthy living. I have high Cholesterol.
Jesus’ blood transfusion “saved me” and gives anyone who will receive it a vibrant and free relationship with God. This transfusion compels us to contaminant-free living in a culture of “GERM WARFARE” toxins.
May you come to experience the freedom from living ensnared by the cultural toxins of this life. Satan is ready to battle, distract, and siphon your life away from God.
Don’t let him. This is a spiritual battle for our soul. You have the tools to stand your ground… in Jesus Christ our Lord.