Thursday, July 11, 2013
In today's blog I'd like to talk about the idea of niceness and how this philosophical way of living and thinking has been perpetrated on our society and has found its way into the Church. Now, as your know I try to get down to the nuts and bolts of thoughts, ideas, and meanings of words.
Most people probably are thinking what in the world is wrong with being nice? Why would anyone have a problem with such a wonderful virtue like niceness? Here is where we clear the air, so to speak. I'm looking at niceness as to a blanket acceptance of all thoughts, ideas, faith traditions, and behaviors. In our culture tolerance, which is the brother of niceness has replaced the golden rule of loving your neighbor as yourself.
We are told through our media that to disagree with someone's lifestyle choices, or their views, say for example, one's views on abortion would make us intolerant or not nice, and who wants to be not nice or intolerant. And if you are strident in your religions beliefs or dogmatic in what you believe than the next level of accusation is the dreaded bigot label.
There is a powerful force at work in our society to steer the ship of though, belief, and ideology. And when one stands up to this powerful current that runs through the fabric of our society they better be ready to defend what they believe. Now, here is where I expose the weakness of this niceness concept; this idea that we all need to hold hands and sing Kumbaya, it is not only unhealthy, but it is outright UN-Biblical and violates all that God is.
This idea of niceness or accommodation to all thoughts and behaviors is totally foreign to the Christian world view. We should think more in terms of how we are to love, and it is here that we need to understand what God's love is like, and then seek to emulate that kind of love.
Let me offer four Biblical thoughts on love:
1.) Real love has zeal, self-sacrifice and an inherent call in it for change ( Isa. 49:15; 1Thess. 2:7-12).
2.) Love has built in to its fabric a call to "hang in there" with others, a call to walk the mile with them, a call to get into their skin (1 Cor. 13:4;1Thess.5:14).
3.) Love, loves those where they are at, but it also seeks to lift them up and move them out of the pit ( Matt. 3:2; Gal.6:1).
4.) God's love for the unsaved comes with a story attached: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). God's love is not a blanket acceptance of our lives, but God's love is an action story whereby He loves us so much that He gave us His one and only Son.
Think on this---if we offer blanket acceptance (niceness) to others there is no need then to call them to repentance. If we make people feel good about themselves by being nice than we just confirm them in their lifestyle without bringing the humility that is needed for one to enter the Kingdom of God. If we seek to comfort others and give a false sense of security than we have confirmed them in their self-sufficiency which is the ultimate sin against God.
Monday, July 8, 2013
Could it be a heart issue?
Why does the unregenerate heart rail against God's Word? Why does the sinful nature of man become stiff necked when God's truth confronts them and knocks on their door? I think we find the answer all throughout the pages of the Bible.
It all comes down to a heart issue. No, not the physical organ that pumps life giving blood throughout your body, but who you are, your very nature, the center of your being. The Hebrews understood the heart in a much broader sense than we do in our modern western culture, but still the use of a concrete object of the heart to express an abstract idea is understood in both cultures. We in the western culture often associate the heart with emotions such as love and kindness as in, "He has a good heart". This is also true with the Hebrews who saw the heart as the seat of emotion. But unlike us they also saw the heart as the seat of thought, whereas we see the brain as the seat of thought. To the ancient Hebrews the heart was the mind including all thoughts and emotions.
Louis Isaac Rabinowitz notes, "The rabbis adopted the biblical view that the heart is the seat of the emotions, and they applied this notion to every sphere of human action and thought." The Hebrew Bible speaks about the whole inside of man being the center of life as so aptly put by Harold Louis Ginsberg when he says,”The interior of the body is conceived of as the seat of the inner life, of feeling and thought. Strong feeling is conceived of as a stirring or heating of the intestine...." Ginsberg tells us that even
"Gladness is a function not only of the heart (e.g., Prov. 23:15) but also of the kidneys (Prov. 23:16; cf. Jer. 12:2b)."
The picture is that the whole of man is referred to when the Bible uses the word heart: man's thoughts, emotions, and will. Getting back to the question, why does the unregenerate rail against the truth of God's word? Because he has been corrupted in his whole inner life, sin has affected his emotions, his will, and his thoughts. The picture of man’s brokenness in the Scripture is what the Reformers called Total Depravity.
Unless God gives a new nature to man he will always rebel against the truth of God's word. One of the most glorious portions of Scripture is found in Ezekiel 36:25-31. In this passage we find Israel’s restoration and national salvation. Their salvation is described as a washing in v.25, in v. 26 as the giving of a new heart, and finally in v. 27 as God putting His Spirit within them.
The answer to a rebellious hard heart is no less than getting a heart transplant. God needs to give a new heart to the unconverted so that they can then please Him and submit to Him through the authority of His word. The difference between an old heart and one who has had a heart transplant is that the new heart will delight itself in the law of the LORD Psalm 1:2
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