22 noviembre 2011

Untitled (Intro)

thought one:
"Then there are some statistics that we get from places like Barna Group and Rainer Research—these are Christian organizations that study church involvement patterns. They say that by the time someone who is raised in the church reaches their 30th birthday, there‟s an 80 percent chance they will be disengaged from the church."
~ Drew Dyck, family life today

i cite 16 as the age when the existence of God really started working some major changes in my mind and life. (that was wordy, but i don't really have a better way to put it.) almost immediately, almost funnily, i started to worry about other kids, like me, raised in the church but living in a world where dark and deceptive forces (influences, ideas, desires) wanted to blind them to the light of God.

but now there is a new horror in my neighborhood... not of kids not accepting the work of Christ, but of brethren rejecting it. and part of the horror is this: how do i know i won't do the same? i've met my loyalty, and i am not impressed.

thought two: factors

last summer, my brother, his family, and some inlaws were discussing Romans, and one person asked, "Well, why do people leave Christ?"

Indeed. Do they misplace their faith... "lose" it? Is faithlessness a disease? Does it just attack people? Is it some inherent weakness in their particular faith (gulp)? If we could figure this out, couldn't we find hope for some preventative medicine at least, if not an antidote?

Gary turned the question over to us. My elder nephew voiced his opinion:

"Lack of self-control."

This does not surprise me from said elder nephew. He's a pretty hardcore man-child. Just memorized "If" by Kipling, and very appropos the poem to his early-rising, systematic-reading, mountain-climbing self.

Though probably true, the comment sounded harsh to me, as i'm not quite so hardcore as he. Then, hardcore or not, i read II Peter 1, and i thought again.

It talks about supplementing faith with
~brotherly affection

Wait, "self-control"? I thought of Benja and paid more attention. Now, i like lists, and i like to think about the lists in Scripture, but this stood out... and here's why.

8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.

That part:

Whoa. That made me do a double, a triple, a multi-take.

thought three: but what about grace?
In recent times, i am very, very wary of legalism and strident about grace, so i had to think about that in relation to the text. Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

 It is God, God, God and His grace and Holy Spirit and love and the work of Christ that saves.

We just trust Him.

However, that trust in Him is not
or even as constant as grace.

It is a gift of God, but one that is to be guarded and developed, (not by the flesh, but by cooperation with the Spirit.) When we are faithless, (just like when we are loveless, joyless, unpeaceful, also things worked in us by Him) He remains faithful (because that is how He is). However, faithlessness can lead to despair and denial, in which we refuse God's grace, and He denies to override our wills. At that point, we're not just suspecting bad things about God, we choose "No God." Faithlessness is a very bad and dangerous place to be. You're standing over an abyss, held only by God's grace, and contemplating commanding Him to let you go.

Our faith isn't everything, but it is the means of everything- to and from God. And if it is so important and yet non-inevitable, how to keep it, take care of it? How to cherish this gift Christ has given us?

Defining terms: Faith = trust in God to be God... to be good, loving, righteous, true, saving. And the above list of "good things" are supplements to that trust... (Hokily, I think of vitamins.) These qualities (virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, brotherly kindness, love) energize, strengthen, work with, and refine that God-worked faith to be something enduring and precious to God... that we will never fall.

This is part one.
Part two, forthcoming: On Virtue

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