Friday, January 11, 2008

Words, Worldview, and Works: The Search for Consistency

"In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

-Luke 10: 30-37 (NIV)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

- Matthew 23:23 (NIV)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence."

- Matthew 23:25 (NIV)

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."

- Matthew 23:27 (NIV)

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 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."

- James 1:22-27 (NIV)

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

- James 2:14-17 (NIV)

Peace and blessings,

Out of the many topics I have been blessed with the opportunity to write on over the past two years (by the grace of God), this one has probably been the most pressing on my heart. I originally thought of the idea for this topic last summer, during a time when God was speaking to me in "unique" ways so to speak.

Throughout the years I have learned (through sermons as well as through personal experience), that a common misconception about the Christian walk is that once we "join the squad" (i. e. give our lives to Christ), then things will generally go smooth from there. Sure there are a few bumps or minor setbacks along the way, but for the most part, life will not really be difficult. Although the bible tells us that as believers that all things will work out for the good (Romans 8: 28), it also tells us that the things we experience in life can help built our spiritual character (Romans 5: 3-5). Taken together, I interpret these scriptures to mean that for Christians, we will inevitably experience hurt and pain, but that all of our experiences (good or bad), insofar as we seek out God in the midst of those experiences, can yield spiritual rewards for our life on earth and for our eternal life in heaven.

In general, I feel like God has been showing me that many of our experiences as Christians are sort of like "check points" to assess the extent to which our lives are consistent in three areas:

our worldview (how we view the world, our place in it, others' place in it)

our words (the things we say,, words we live by, the advice we give to people)

our works (how we act in the world, treat others)

Let me preface this by saying that I am not arguing that we as Christians have to be perfect, because Lord knows we can't be (lol). What I am arguing, however, is that many of our experiences provide a measuring stick for us to assess in what ways our worldview, words, and works line up or do not line up. This level of consistency is a difficult task because there may be certain areas where we are more or less consistent. For instance, in certain contexts it is more easier for me to be consistent in all three areas, others more easier to be consistent in two of the three, and other areas where there is no consistency. The goal in my opinion is two-fold. One goal is for us to continually work on those areas that we have partial or not consistency and build on those areas. As mentioned in
  • New Beginnings,

  • one of my prayers this year is for God to help me view things the way He views them, because there are times when I find myself telling others to view setbacks through a spiritual lens yet I myself am viewing my obstacles through a purely human (limited) lens. Second, our goal is to recognize those areas in which we do have consistency, and learn from them so that we are able to live our lives in a way that best pleases God; through our expression of love, faith and humility in how we view the world, the things we say, and how we live.

    What do you think? Any areas where you see consistency? Inconsistency? What are some steps you think yourself as well as us as Christians in general can take to achieve and maintain consistency? Take care, God bless, and speekonit...

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