18 May 2006

A clean conscience can accuse?

I was reading through the beginning of Romans, and read this (English Standard Version):

Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
Rom 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
Rom 2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

I had been thinking about something recently and this passage jumped out at me when I read it. I was talking to my roommate a couple weeks ago and was reading him some passages from the Bible. Nothing in particular, just trying to be the Bible-thumper I am and beat him over the head with the truth ;)

He repsonded by saying how his dad had been looking into Buddhism a lot and was pretty much a Buddhist. He talked about it for a little bit, and basically made the statement that all religions or paths to "enlightenment" are valid, as long as you are sincere and have faith.

In repsonse, I mumbled something about nothing, and beat a hasty retreat. How do you tell someone that they are totally wrong and going to to Hell without saying that? This passage always comes to mind when I see that pastor protesting at the funerals of soldiers with signs saying "God hates fags" and "God loves a dead soldier" or hear some obnoxious loud mouth hootin and hollerin and spoutin off his mouth with his own agenda.

1Pe 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,
1Pe 3:15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
1Pe 3:16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Anyway, I was thinking about the dilemma in showing someone that just because they are "righteous" or are committed to doing good with their life, it brings them no closer to salvation. Let me say that my intention is not to convince anyone of anything, but to debunk the all-to-prevelant attitude among Christians of acceptance and validation of "doing good."

Getting to the point, after I read the Romans passage, I thought to myself that this was exactly what I needed. If someone has a guilty conscience over something they have done, i.e., murder: something that is commonly accepted to be contrary to some mysterious, unexplainable "code of ethics" most humans adhere to (one that is suspiciously close to the 10 Commandments), no one will argue with you if you say that they are most likely not being praised and coddled by some loving higher power.
However, the thing I have trouble with, and I know most Christians have trouble with, is "condemning" those who are doing good. People like Buddha or Gandhi.

"How could a loving God condemn someone who has done so much good??" the question always goes. And most Christians are hard pressed to defend what they may think they might believe.

But right there in Romans 2:15 it says it plain as day, humans have the innate knowledge of what is right and wrong on their hearts, and their conscience will accuse them when they are wrong, and excuse them when they do right.

Wait! Does that mean they are excused by God?? So as long as you are a "bascially good person" you'll be okay when you stand before the throne someday??

No, absolutely not. What the passage is saying is that, EVEN THOUGH someone's doing good and they have a clean conscience, that only further reinforces the fact that they are unconsciously acknowleding God's law. Would a law be a law if it is not enforced?? No, and God is a perfect and holy judge, of course he is going to judge by his own law.

All that is to say, somewhat confusingly, that when someone tries to say that doing good and following principles similar to God's law excuses them, it doesn't, it only shows more clearly that they are accountable to God's law.

I was also thinking about the Davinci Code coming out this weekend, and how so many people are much more likely to believe Dan Brown's ridiculous and unfounded theories over the literal truth in the Bible. I was talking with a friend about it, and she brought up how for some reason, people are so interested in anything that is seen as "hidden" or "suppressed." I guess it's just human nature to resist the truth that is SO PLAIN and attempt to inflate our egos by always searching for human wisdom.

Okay that had nothing to do with the rest of the blog, oh well.

This might not make any sense, but its been enlightening for me.

14 May 2006

Evangelism and me

I was recently thinking a lot about how I am supposed to present myself, as a Christian, to unbelieving roommates and aquaintences. Do I come across as arrogant? Do I act as if I think am somehow superior to them? Do I think I know everything?

I think Christians too often bite off more than they can chew when it comes to wintessing and evangelism. Is it pride in us that makes us think we can somehow change someones mind through our eloquence, logic, or persuasiveness?

Let me look at this logically.

There is person A, me, and person B, an unsaved roommate for example.

Person A has opinion A. Person B has opinion B.

op_A != op_B ##opinion A does not equal opinion B##

Oh no, what are we to do??

Well, person A could bring to bear his astounding intelligence, his limitless knowledge and incredible argument skills, and crush the opposition's position into the ground.

Person A is obviously a person, as is Person B. That means that both in the grand scheme of things have equal standing. Person A is human, just like Person B, therefore, he has no inherent advantages or disadvantages. Thus, if Person A has the capacity to defeat Person B in argument, Person B has every bit as much power to do the same to Person A. So, if Person A is able to convince Person B of something, Person A is just as susceptible to being convinced of something else by Person B.

If you can change someones mind, they can change yours. Plain and simple

So why would Person A think that by using words he's devised, and arguments he's fashioned, he'd be able to effectively increase the standing of Opinion A over Opinion B.

The missing element is faith. Faith that God can use me, my actions, even my words, to affect change in another. My responsibility is to sow, water, or reap, not to force growth.

Keep in mind that when I say it's impossible for one human to convince another of the truth of Christianity, I mean just that: a human. With God, all things are possible. God can work through any of us to accomplish great things, I just have to remember it's God, not me.

21 March 2006

A tale from my youth

when i was younger, 7th or 8th grade or so i think, i had this old radio down in the corner of the basement, right neat those wierd high little windows that were so creepy at night when you would swear there was someone looking in all the time (they can't have been that secure, i dont even know if the locks worked...oh goody...i feel so safe now...).

it had been fished out of the trash, but apparently, from what im about to tell you, it had a great receiver in it. it was the kind with detachable speakers, and well, they were detached, and not there. so i used an old pair of computer speakers and rocked out with the thing. it was summer, so i was down in the basement all the time playing with legos and k'nex. i constantly tried to find a good radio station to listen to, but being the 7th grade version of myself that i was, i pretty much only looked for contemporary christian music stations. well, there were no good ones. so i searched and searched. and then it happened. i heard a tenth of a second of a classic newsboys song playing weak and faint over the airwaves, but i knew i had hit paydirt. i adjusted the dial with ever-so-careful precision, attempting to lock in on the wayward signal. that helped a little. then i tenderley adjusted the antenna, intentley listening for the smallest improvement in sound. that helped a little more. then the idea hit me: i grabbed the lamp (the pole kind with the three adjustable bulbs on it) and moved it over to the radio area. i grabbed the antenna and adjusted it around to rest on the metal lamp pole. wow, that helped a lot! thinking at the speed of light, i ran upstairs and grabbed my mom's role of aluminum foil and dashed back down the stairs. utilizing the specialized techniques of bunny-ear technicians, i carefully wrapped the antenna in foil and attached it to the lamp. suddenly the volume jumped and the dc talk came through loud and clear; yes!
after listening several more songs, most likely audio adrenaline, steven curtis chapman, and michael w. smith, the little jingle for 'the light fm' came on, and i found out the station was broadcasting from somewhere in delaware. i lived in south jersey, and this station all the way from delaware was coming in! wow! its a miracle!

perhaps the most amazing thing was that this old radio, with its makeshift tin-foil antenna and computer speakers, was able to pick up this radio station where the big receiver upstairs connected to the big roof antenna couldnt pick it up, the car couldnt pick it up, and if i moved the radio or the antenna the slightest bit, the signal would disappear. it must have been some sort of fluke, some odd atmospheric condition, because after that summer, i was never able to pick up the station again. however, i will always remember the summer that i lived and breathed the light fm. i would dutifully tune in for the top 20 countdown on sunday nights, listen eagerly for the newest supertones song, and even catch the occasional switchfoot or delirious.

when i think back on it now, i laugh at the cheesy music, but also remember with those warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feelings the joy i felt at that simple pleasure of life. perhaps i was a bit sheltered, but listening to the light fm, i felt connected to a bigger world, as if a minute ray of light were beaming into that dark, silent basement and filling it with light and sound. but the thing that strikes me the most was the precise placement of radio and antenna required to tune in. (yes, here it comes, the cheesy 'reflection-on-life-based-on-childhood-experience-object-lesson...come on, everyone's gotta do it every now and then!) how much is that like my life. if i dont pay close attention to where my 'antenna' is pointing, and precisely watch the position of my dial, all i spit out is static, noise, junk. you get it right? garbage in, garbage out. if im not careful, the dial will shift, the antenna will move, and suddenly my life is out of tune with the life i should be living. of course, the station is the bible, god's word, jesus calling, the godly advice of other christians, etc... and the radio is me. the antenna is my 'attention' or my interests, and the dial...is pretty much the same i guess (hey! i can't always be really clever!).

don't you love how often the little details of some mundane thing of life ends up teaching you a big lesson? its great.

enough said.