Weekly Thought – December 29, 2015
Fred valued intellectual integrity. Speakers who depended on emotional persuasion without the benefit of facts won little respect. He did the hard work of thinking about ideas and developing a system and framework for his worldview.
The year is ending. What a time of grateful reflection. We are deep into plans for our 2016 schools and the excitement is palpable. Please continue to partner with us in prayerful expectation. May your last days of 2015 give you ample opportunity for praise to our faithful and true God.
Straight and Crooked – Part Three
I was taught to go to church twice on Sunday. So when I moved to an area where they didn’t have Sunday evening services, I didn’t know what to do. I felt guilty. It took me a long time to work through this, getting to the point where I could say to Mary Alice, “It is okay to stay home.”
We need to be more honest with young Christians about that. For example, we tell new Christians to have a specific daily time for prayer and Bible study. That’s fine. But instead of laying it on as a duty, we need to explain the rationale. We need to sit down and explain: “You are new; here is a discipline you will find healthy. Most mature Christians take up a routine for reading the Scripture. At the least, it is good to set aside a daily time with God.” We must always remember God isn’t tied to our schedule.
We must be honest with people about what a discipline is, what a ritual is, and what reality is.
People are quite different in the way they can best approach Scripture. I went to a church where a mathematician was the leading elder. He was very strong on studying the Bible chapter by chapter, verse by verse – front to back. It just broke his heart to vary from this pattern. Others are equally strong in their beliefs and convictions, but prefer the method which applies scripture topically.
We must carefully counsel new Christians in this regard. After all, we are not on a point system with God. He wants us to know Him – not attempt to beat some hypothetical (and erroneous) score. We as older Christians (and hopefully more mature) must always seek to instill the importance of a relationship with God.
I was at a college in Florida where a medical doctor made the mistake of opening his speech by listing his doubts. He asked me later what I thought of his talk. I said, “I’ve found I have no right to give a group my doubts because when I find an answer, I can never get that group back together to finish the discussion. So while I live with my doubts, I only preach my beliefs.”
It is tempting to express your doubts, because it makes you feel comfortable and real. But it is much more helpful to focus on the positive. I remember a late night session with Baylor students, talking about the minimum you can do and still be considered a good Christian. One foreign student spoke up: “I’m not interested in the minimum; I’m interested in the maximum.” I suddenly realized she was the one with intellectual integrity. Those in the discussion were trying to get into heaven on the cheapest general admission ticket; she was in love with God.
This week think about: 1) How can I clarify the difference between discipline, ritual, and reality? 2) What is my counsel for new Christians? 3) When do I let intellectual integrity slip?
Words of Wisdom: “We must be honest with people about what a discipline is; what a ritual is; and what a reality is.”
Wisdom from the Word: “But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.” (1 Peter 3:15 NET Bible)