Thursday, November 17, 2005

Why is There War?

Nobody really desires war. Most people hate war. In fact, many people really don't struggle with war because they would never imagine engaging in it. My generation and younger are probably the first where the majority of people are not military. So we have a harder time understanding it than previous generations. However, I would hope we can form a biblical understanding, even if it is different from each other.

People engage in war because conflict in this world is inevitable. As long as people ignore God, allow envy in their lives, or take what is not theirs to have, war is necessary. And this is true whether the war is between nations or at the community level. (James 4:1-3) This is why we have police, guards, soldiers, locks, security systems, etc.

War is a given. So it would be wise to not be too alarmed, nor let our hearts get weighed down in this world. For many things will happen. And our faith is not dependent on what we perceive as good. (Matthew 24:6-14; Luke 21:34) Instead, bind those who are wounded--physically and emotionally, share the hope of salvation with the world--enemy or ally, be faithful to Christ--serving one another in grace.

War is war. It is necessary. Soldiers who become Christians are never asked to lay down their arms by any follower of Christ in Scripture, nor by Jesus Himself. (Luke 3:7-14; Acts 10; Matthew 8:5-13) In fact the endorsement by Paul and Peter of the wicked Roman government is that they do God's will in this world to stem back evil. (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-17)

What I want—no more war—is irrelevant.
Who I trust—God or man—is relevant.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Christianity Versus Commitment to Christ

Barna Research recently released a study on Christian Faith Commitment. The study revealed that American Christians are more devoted to being called Christian than actually practicing any biblical applications of principles. Barna says:

“For starters, it appears that most Americans like the security and the identity of the label ‘Christian’ but resist the biblical responsibilities that are associated with that identification. For most Americans, being a Christian is more about image than action. Further,” he continued, “researchers and those who use research data must be careful how they portray people’s spiritual commitment. Such descriptions are greatly affected by the way in which commitment is measured.”

In an earlier study, Barna observed the trend that people who demonstrate a high-level of faith commitment tend to be less associated with local congregations in the traditional sense—especially in the northeast. He even wrote a book about this, titled, Revolution. In his assessment of this trend, Barna believes that a new form of church experience is emerging.

However, in my previous analysis, I was not so sure this was a good thing. In fact, it demonstrates our staunchly individualistic style of faith rather than our commitment to Jesus Christ. We would presume to "design" our Christian experience rather than commit or "covenant" ourselves together as local communities. We desire to segment ourselves into groups of similar-maturated individuals, rather than engage in the hard work of committing to each other's maturity as a community—together only because of the blood of Jesus, not maturity level, the rituals, or the lack of rituals.

I believe this latest study confirms some of my suspicions, although I am not sure Barna would agree with me. I see a good and bad trend in the Christian world. The good side is that people desire to find ways of experiencing God that don't always fit man-centered, prescribed, encounters. On the other hand, protestants have always been individualistic in American culture. Some of the fruit of this attitude is constant splits, denominational births and deaths, and drifting from grace to law.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Nature of Evil

I wonder sometimes if our current culture understands anything about evil. We are often content with seeing life as a series of events or bad decisions. But who discusses evil? When evil is ever mentioned, it is poo-pooed as old fashioned, or worse, superstitious. Why? Maybe because we will be confronted with our own moral failure. Maybe it seems too harsh, today, to be considered evil. Maybe we've replaced personal responsibility for inanimate objects or circumstances (i.e. guns or tough times).

However, I've come to the conclusion in my lifetime that:
  • evil can not be negotiated with.

  • evil can not be accommodated.

  • evil will not be ignored.

  • evil always hates what is good.

  • evil calls what is good, evil.

  • evil is not a circumstance, feeling, or thing.

  • evil is an attitude, and an act of the will.

  • evil loves darkness.

  • evil hates light.

  • evil loves lies.

  • evil hates truth.

  • evil always corrupts.

  • evil never purifies.

  • evil always places hope somewhere other than God.