Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Life at Work

Herbert Spencer was a British philosopher and economist. He is known best perhaps coining the phrase “the survival of the fittest.” Spencer was a supporter of Darwinism. Knowing that, it was interesting when I came across an anecdote ascribed to Spencer. He was playing billiards with a subordinate who was really good. Spencer missed his first shot, and the young man ran the table. The frustrated philosopher remarked, “A certain dexterity in games of skill argues a well-balanced mind, but such dexterity as you have shown is evidence, I fear, of a misspent youth.”

A misspent youth? That's strange from a man whose writings about society and philosophy have evolutionary ideas oozing out of them. Here's a man who argues that mankind's youth was no different from that of my golden retriever's or that salamander whose tail broke off as he ran into the hole in the bricks of my garage. Misspent youth? Weird words from a man who would teach that this world is all there is and that when I'm dead I'll be like Rover -- dead all over.

If human life evolved from single-cell organisms and all animals came from that same source, then why should my youth be spent in any noble or God-fearing way? If life is simply the survival of the fittest, then how can youth be misspent if I am still alive today. Today is all I could have hoped for yesterday, it would seem. If this life is all there is for me and when I'm dead, that's it, then why would playing billiards everyday mean a misspent youth. Give me what is good for me now! I want to spend my youth doing what is right in my own eyes, grabbing at every pleasure possible, if this life is it.

But this life is not all there is; and while I love to play pool, I love my creator, too. Loving him gives me purpose in life. I’ve got things to do today that impact eternity. You do, too. That’s Life at Work!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Anything Better than Jesus?

Is there anything better than Jesus? Can any gift better than eternal life be offered by anybody? Maybe when these questions are asked point blank the answers are quickly shouted, "No!" But often the questions are not that pointed and the answer is one made not with the mouth, but with actions. It seems that for many the answer to both questions is "Yes."

Some are continuing in immoral sexual behavior. You know that your actions are not pleasing to God, yet you won't repent. With your actions you are saying, "This relationship is better than a relationship with Jesus."

Some are so enamored by money that you'll do nearly anything to have more. You're unethical, if not a thief; you're a gambler with your families resources; or maybe just plain covetous or stingy. What you say by your actions is, "The blessings of my possessions are greater to me than the gift from God."

There is surely some "cross bearing" for the Christian in this life, but we consider it all joy to suffer here, to do without here, to resist pleasures of the flesh here, if it means heaven later. Every day Jesus says, "Will you pick up your cross!" (Luke 9:23) Everyday we answer "yes" or "no" by the choices we make from the heart. That’s Life at Work?


I’ve always thought that denominationalism was a dirty word. I still think that. Most often denominationalism relates to grouping within a group, particularly a religious group. Grouping within a group is contrary to Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor 1-3 and is in defiance of Jesus’ prayer that believers be united (John 17).

Contemporary definitions emphasize naming the group, as if giving the group in a group a name is what distinguishes it from the other named groups. Certainly naming the group in a group does that, but denominationalism begins long before that happens.

Denonimationalism doesn’t begin with a sign in front of a building, and taking down the sign is not the cure for denominationalism. Denominationalism begins in the heart and usually is exhibited in other divisive ways before anyone ever thinks of a name or a sign. Denominationalism begins when one Christian decides he or she will have nothing to do with another Christian because of some disagreement. Denominationalism is first seen by in a sneering looking, a harsh word, a refusal of fellowship, an inhospitable act, a move to another pew, or an act of avoidance in a foyer.

Denominational lines were drawn in Corinth according to favorite preachers, convictions regarding food, gifts of the Spirit, and bank account size. They made groups within the group, dividing from the others in their hearts; and they never made up any names or painted any signs. The body of Christ was divided. Denominationalism was in the body of Christ, and Paul’s response was to call them to repent.

You would call me an amillennialist, non-instrumentalist, pro-cooperation, multi-cup, Bible Class Christian. Some call me progressive, some call me liberal. Others would say I’m conservative. Some might say I’m balanced. I believe it's fine to pay a preacher to work in a particular place. I could use fermented or non-fermented grape juice for the communion, and I break off the large loaf instead of picking up a pre-cut piece of the unleavened bread. I think it's fine to eat and play basketball inside a building that the church owns, though it’s probably not a good idea to eat and play at the same time. Christmas parties are fine with me and so are Halloween parties. I preach about the resurrection at Easter, but I don’t celebrate the day any differently than I do any other Sunday. All these things are true about me, but here’s one thing: I’m not going to say you are less of Christian or not a Christian because you are not quite like me in these areas. That would be denominational. As much as in me is, I will keep the unity of the Spirit though the bond of peace. I will agree with you that division between us will not exist. I will seek to be with other Christians what Jesus prayed we would be. That’s Life at Work!