Monday, October 10, 2011

How Do We Define Ourselves?

In his book, Letters to New Pastors, Michael Jinkins writes the following story:

George MacLeod once told the story of a sailor, a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, shipwrecked on a lonely tropical island. When he was rescued many years later, he gave his rescuers a tour of his island home. He showed them his camp, the straw hut he lived in, and not far from his hut, his own little church, where he worshipped each week. Later that same day, as they were walking in another part of the island, the rescuers saw a building that looked curiously like the church that stood near the survivor’s hut. They asked him, “What’s that? It looks like a church.”

“It is a church,” he answered. “It’s the church I don’t go to.”

The church we don’t go to shapes so much of our identity as Christians. The most common litany of my childhood (if we had believed in litanies) might have been: “We don’t do that. That’s Catholic.” For some people its “We don’t do that. That’s fundamentalist.” Or: “We don’t do that. That’s what liberals—or evangelicals—or Pentecostals—do.” The possibilities are almost endless in the game of defining ourselves by what we do not do or do not believe.

Jinkins explains in his book that this is not always bad. At times it is necessary to explain what we aren’t, what we don’t do, or what we don’t believe. However, more often than not, most Christians define themselves by what they don’t do instead of what they do and believe. Wouldn’t it be great if the focus and emphasis of North Hills was described by what we do: being a people of grace, a community of service, a body of forgiving and loving believers, and an environment of discipleship and growth in Jesus Christ?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pursuing God

As the sailor locates his position on the sea by “shooting” the sun, so we may get our moral bearings looking at God. We must begin with God. We are right when, and only when, we stand in a right position relative to God, and we are wrong so far and so long  as we stand in any other position.

Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigor of God’s inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use.

We can get a right start only by accepting God ads He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is. Some of the rapturous moments we know will be those we spend in reverent admiration of the Godhead. In those holy moments the very thought of change in Him will be too painful to endure.

So let us begin with God.

A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, 95