Is the Problem Guns, Sin, or a Worldview?

worldview

I’ve listened to the arguments.

The problem is access to guns.

No, the problem begins in the heart—specifically, hearts corrupted by sin.

The more I hear the debate, the more I think both arguments are missing the point.

Guns have always been available. And sin has always been around, at least since the Garden of Eden.

So really, what changed?

If we’re honest with ourselves, the only thing that changed in the past 50 years is our worldview.

Our western culture no longer even pretends to espouse a biblical worldview. What I mean by that is we no longer base our philosophy of life and our values on a biblical foundation.

  • Morality is relative. Right and wrong depend solely on your perspective rather than absolute standards.
  • Truth is relative. What’s true for me may not be true for you.
  • The determination of the beginning of life depends on whether the mother wants the baby growing inside her.
  • We teach children that they are a biological accident, rather than a person of eternal value created in the image of God.

When we divorce ourselves from the understanding that humanity is accountable to its Creator, what we have left is a diminished value of life and a corrupted view of sin. After all, your “truth” doesn’t have to be “my” truth anymore.

Our culture no longer views character development and discipline as useful. Just ask any teacher who’s had to explain to an angry parent why little Johnny experienced the consequence of failure for not completing his term paper. Excuses abound…from little Johnny and Johnny’s parents.

A cultivated sense of entitlement demands that we get our own way, regardless of someone else’s standards—regardless of any standards.

So our morality is relative, our view of life is that it’s an accident with no eternal purpose, and our understanding of sin is quickly becoming non-existent. And then we’re surprised when teens and young adults respond to their despair by killing anyone they perceive offended them?

We stripped life of its eternal value, and we’re surprised at the result?

Want more proof? A video game which was to be released in June would have provided players with the opportunity to play the role of a school shooter, scoring points for kills. The distribution company justified the game by saying the player also has the option of choosing to play the role of a SWAT team member instead of a shooter. And they had included the following disclaimer:

“Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else. If you feel like hurting someone or people around you please seek help from local psychiatrists or dial 911 (or applicable). Thank you.”

Don’t take killing seriously? Really?

Due to a major outcry, “Active Shooter” was pulled from release. Interestingly enough, they pulled it, not because of the content, but because the creator had a bad reputation.

The solutions I’ve heard put forth to restore safety in our schools and workplaces seem to focus on symptoms instead of the cause.

If our culture persists in refusing to acknowledge the God who created us as well as the eternal value of life (whether a baby in the womb or a student in a classroom), we will continue to experience the horror of life violently snuffed out.

What shapes your worldview?


 
Refrigerator Magnet Theology

refrigerator magnet
How many magnets grace the front of your refrigerator? One? Five? Twelve?

Refrigerator magnets can be silly, serious, or snarky. They can be cute, corny, or classy.

Refrigerator magnets have also generated much theology that sounds good…but isn’t.

Consider these catchy quotes:

  • God never gives us more than we can handle.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • God helps those who help themselves.
  • We’re all God’s children.

Phrases passed down from generation to generation. Easily remembered sound bites with a whisper of biblical wisdom and a hint of Christianity…and a bucketful of error.

Let’s look at these four examples:

God never gives us more than we can handle.

This probably originated with II Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (NIV).

As you can see, the context of this verse is temptation. God always provides a way for us to stand against temptation. But what about other life experiences? Let’s face it, most of us have experienced situations way beyond what we can handle on our own. The key in that last sentence is the phrase “on our own.”

We live in a fallen, sin-sick world. Tragedy strikes. Suffering happens. Betrayal blindsides us. Most of the time, it is indeed more than we can handle on our own.

But Christians are never “on our own.” We have the presence of the Holy Spirit in us to strengthen, guide, and give wisdom. When God allows us to experience more than we can handle ourselves, it’s an invitation to run to the One who provides what we need when we depend on Him.

 

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

This phrase probably developed in response to all the Bible verses that reference being cleansed—verses such as:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9 NASB).

and

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3 NASB).

But once again, if we examine the context, we’ll see these verses are talking about being cleansed from sin, not from physical dirt. (Although my mother may disagree!)

 

God helps those who help themselves.

This phrase does not appear anywhere in Scripture.

One of the biggest traps we can fall into spiritually is thinking that we must help ourselves before God will help us. The difference between Christianity and every other religion is that we cannot help ourselves into heaven. God has accomplished all that we need for our salvation. Consider Romans 5:6:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (NASB).

God helps the helpless!

 

We’re all God’s children.

This phrase is more wishful thinking than anything else, because John 1:12 tells us:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (NASB).

Becoming a child of God does not happen by physical birth, it happens when we receive the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. At that moment, we are adopted into God’s family. In case you think this verse is the only way that teaches this, consider Galatians 4:4-5:

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (NASB).

We are all created by God for He is the One who gives physical life. Becoming a child of  God—being adopted into His family—comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s guard against believing a statement because it sounds good or because it has been passed down from generation to generation. A refrigerator magnet is not the best source for sound theology. Check it against God’s Word to know, beyond any doubt, what is truly true.


 
Christians, Please Stop Saying That

Last week another hurricane hit Florida. But it wasn’t just another hurricane. Irma is the most powerful storm to ever come out of the Atlantic. So large, it covered the whole state, coast to coast.

The. Whole. State.

We endured Category 1 winds on the east coast. Dangerous and damaging, but not the Category 4 and 5 originally expected. We boarded up and hunkered down, and escaped with relatively minor damage compared to the Keys, Miami, and the west coast of Florida. Still, Irma did leave problems in her wake. No power, no phones, some flooding. But all in all, most of us emerged fairly intact.

Christian conversations

In a recent conversation, another Christian and I were sharing our respective post-Irma experiences. Both of us were immensely grateful we came through with minimal damage. Both of us have neighbors affected more severely than us.

And then he said it. The phrase that motivated this blog post: “We were spared because God hears the cries of His children.”

I cringed.

Not a Magic Formula

Don’t get me wrong. Yes, God hears the cries of His children. And of course, I had prayed for protection as the hurricane bore down on us. And I am ever so grateful for the protection the Lord provided.

But, as Christians, perhaps it’s time to reconsider saying “we were spared because God hears the cries of His children,” as if it’s a magic formula for protection. Because, while God always hears His children’s cries, He sovereignly answers according to His perfect will and His perfect timing. And how He answers is not always in line with our immediate desires.

Consider the Christians on Islamorada devastated by this storm of storms. Or the Christians in the Caribbean who lost their homes. What about the Christians on Florida’s east and west coasts who experienced flooding and injury? Of course, let’s not forget the Christians in Houston, still reeling from Harvey’s destruction.

Didn’t they all cry out to their heavenly Father for protection? Didn’t He hear the cries of those children?

In a recent post, “Hurricanes, Trust, and the Sovereignty of God,” I noted that the natural consequences of living in a broken world include storms: physical, emotional, and yes, hurricanes. And whether God physically protects us in every storm or not, our relationship with Him remains the same. We are still His children.

Bottom line, He sees the big picture and we do not. He knows the intimacy we will experience with Him in our suffering. He knows the blessing we will be to others in the midst of the worst trials.

Enter Faith

We don’t need faith when life is pleasant and God fulfills all our requests. Faith is the muscle we exercise when our circumstances lure us to despair. Will we say with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15 NAS)? Or will we grumble at God for not responding to our requests for protection, as if He’s a genie in a bottle obligated to meet our demands?

Even worse, to those who don’t share our beliefs we sound like children taunting each other on a playground: “Nyeh, nyeh, God protected us because we’re His children and you’re not.” Yet the Bible tells us, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mt. 5:45 NAS).

God is SovereignSo, as children of God, by all means pray for protection. Let’s thank Him when we receive it, and continue trusting Him if we don’t.

Share the joy and the intimacy that results from a relationship with the Creator of the universe who tells us to call Him Abba (Papa). Be as salt to increase the thirst of others for that same relationship. Do it when God protects us as we asked and when He allows circumstances we pleaded for Him to prevent.

He may be using those painful circumstances for something better. Drawing us to Him in deeper intimacy. Molding us to be more like Jesus. Making us a bright light in a world that is becoming darker with each passing day.

Still, if He allows those situations, He promises to be with us in them. Will we choose to be content in these undesired circumstances, resting in the assurance that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)?

And for those not in a restored relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, please don’t hesitate another moment to begin this relationship. Believe Christ died for your sins to restore you to your heavenly Father. Not because He will protect you from every difficult situation. But because this relationship grants a protected eternal future, regardless of what happens in this temporary life.

For now please remember, Christians: God does, indeed, hear the cries of His children. In His sovereignty, He may choose to spare us from some of the consequences of this broken world…or not. But if He doesn’t, it’s because He is fulfilling His best plan for our ultimate good and for His eternal glory.

Have I touched a nerve with this post?
What are your thoughts?


 
Coupons, Chocolate Milk, and Gullible People

gullible people

The last time I logged onto Facebook, several connections joyfully shared a wonderful discovery: a $75.00 Safeway coupon toward a minimum purchase of $80. Who wouldn’t be excited to find a coupon like that?

Fraud. Hoax. False. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a fake. Common sense tells us no store would give away $80. worth of merchandise for $5.00, unless maybe they were going out of business. And if they did offer such a coupon, that might explain why they were going out of business.

But this isn’t the first time such a coupon took Facebook by storm. Last year, eager Facebook friends circulated a $70. coupon toward a minimum $80. purchase from Kohl’s and another one from Publix.

People downloaded and shared the coupons because they wanted them to be true.

Just when you might be thinking folks couldn’t be that naïve, along comes a survey from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. This past April, they surveyed more than 1,000 adults. Seven percent responded that chocolate milk comes from brown cows. And 48 percent of respondents weren’t sure where chocolate milk originated.

No, that was not a typo. A total of more than half of the respondents—550 people—did not know how chocolate milk was made. Now extrapolate that percentage across the general population. How many millions of people might that represent?

But misconceptions about Facebook coupons and chocolate milk are not nearly as serious as misconceptions about spiritual matters. Too many people are gullible about eternal matters. They often echo what someone else told them without researching for themselves.

  • The Bible isn’t really true.
  • There’s no such place as heaven.
  • Jesus is just a myth.
  • The universe wasn’t created, it just happened.
  • Man is basically good.

Rather than simply repeating what other people say, take time to investigate the answers for yourself. When I see those larger-than-life, too-good-to-be-true offers on social media, I research their accuracy before I consider sharing them.

The same applies to spiritual matters. Do you believe what people say because they appeared on television? On the radio? On the internet? Maybe they wrote a book. Perhaps your college professor made a statement about the Bible and spoke with such authority that you accepted his words at face value.

One of my favorite Bible passages is found in Acts 17:10-11 (ESV):

“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (ESV).

Don’t believe a teacher or preacher just because they speak with conviction or have a large platform. Search the Bible for yourself. Compare Scripture passages. Explore the context. Research commentaries. Use the same criteria for evidence about God and the Bible as you would for any other determination of truth.

Of course, we don’t want to be gullible about discount coupons or the source of chocolate milk. But those things are not nearly as important as eternal matters. Instead of choosing gullibility, be as wise as the Bereans!


 
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