Several conversations in the recent past have got me thinking about several things. I have lived most of my life a Christ follower. The Bible has been the corner stone of my beliefs, ethos, and world view for as long as I can remember. And there are many others like me. Many of us have grown up in a “Christian environment, Christian home, Christian church that preaches the Word of God in spirit and in truth”. Yet I see disturbing trends among st Christians all around. I see many frog- like Christians.
What do I mean? The world around us has a set values, ethos, world view that is powerful and contrary to the Word of God. As we interact and engage with it we are always in danger of taking on its values, ways of thinking and lifestyle. Have we become casual about the standards of God and even look upon them as narrow, irrelevant and outdated? If so,we have become like frogs in a cauldron of water on the boil, and we are slowly getting cooked alive without realizing it.
I ask myself am I in the danger of losing my distinctness, my radical edge, the set apartness. A good question to ask is, “do my friends, neighbours, relatives, colleagues see something different in me?” Or have I been walking on the edge of the kingdom so much that I am walking in darkness’ shadows rather than reflecting the light of the God?
Has the Word ceased to dwell richly in us, challenging us, admonishing, teaching, instructing our hearts in which way we should go? Or do we resort to it as a quick fix paracetamol for the headache, the promotion, the exam?
Here are some questions I have been pondering upon. You could ask these questions and reflect along with me.
1.Education – am I pursuing what God wants me to do or am I just blindly doing what everyone else is doing or what we get me the most money even if it takes me away from fellowship and God?
My story:I remember having had to make this choice – to take up the scholarship to do a Ph. D at Oxford or do what I believe God wanted me to do. God’s ways are not ours – but when we yield to it you find abundant life lies therein. The Word says "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight" Proverbs 3:6. God is not a kill joy - He wants the best for us.
2. Job- am I overly ambitious for promotions, money at the cost of time with my family, health , things of the kingdom .When God instituted the Sabbath he did it for our good so that we would not be worn out, run to the ground and that we would find our sustenance in the house of God. But how many Christians are guilty of flouting this God given principle and even rationalising their lack of honouring God? Today people almost don’t question the system that demands you work more than 10 hours every day and routinely give up your weekends because of “emergencies” that crop up at work? Have we become modern day slaves of Egypt where we no longer have the time, energy or mind space to worship and meditate and get involved in the things of God? We are slowly getting cooked and our life is being sucked out from us.
But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. Deut. 8:18
Our Story:I remember when Colin came to India and got a call from two good Computer companies. One offered him a higher salary and a house (the biggest bait you could give in a city like Mumbai) and the other offered a lower salary and no housing. Here was the difference – the company offering the house expected you to work long hours, and weekends if needed. The other company had regular hours and would very rarely call you in on a Saturday but never on a Sunday. The choice was clear – the later. And have we suffered for it? Far from it. God has given us more than we could ask or imagine.
Here is another one – do I jump at transfers without a thought of what it will do to my family or my spiritual growth. Would I be willing to be radical and forgo the promotion etc, take a cut back in my already heavy pay package for the sake of things of eternal value and trust God to make it up to me. Do I value being in the center of God's will and plan for my life more than anything else? Remember the one who made the sun, moon and stars is no mans debtor.
3. Marriage- here is a big one! When it comes to this do I fall back on traditionalism rather than biblical ways. Do I challenge and stand up to wrong practices in my culture and family setting? I am shocked at how many Christians still follow the “dowry” custom without calling it that yet extracting their pound of flesh. How many girls’ families are in debt to the tune of lakhs of rupees because of the subtle demands and expectations put on them during the “match fixing” meet? When will young men and women stand up for righteousness? How many cultures expect the girl’s family to bear all the wedding expenses and don’t bat an eye lid over it – yes I am talking about Christians the world over!!!
Our Story: – we cut our coat according to our cloth. We did not have as many guests as everyone in the family would have liked. Yes it made some people unhappy, but where are they today? We chose not to make any gold ornaments except our engagement and wedding rings – this is completely contrary to the Indian custom. We decided that we (Colin and I) would pay for our own wedding expenses and we would split the expenses 50 -50.Radical? Yes – but worth it. We do not have grudges being held against inlaws for unfulfilled promises to give certain amounts of money or bear certain expenses and that are still being talked about years after the marriage. We kept our cost low and started marriage totally debt free – freeing ourselves and our parents of any unnecessary financial burdens. It can be done!! Neither our parents nor us heard “people talking” which is the big fear people live under.
4. Children – Do we send the wife off to her mother’s home or do we uphold the primary relationship between husband and wife? There is no harm in the mother coming over to help with the new born, but to separate man and wife for months on end – is it biblical? I am also told that tradition has it that the expenses connected with the birth of the first child has to be borne by the wife’s parents. My friends if you are reading this, can you see this for what it is? Do we succumb to superstitious practices related to child bearing etc? ( black marks, shaving off the babies hair etc etc ) We need to be ready to challenge things at every level. Let’s keep the plumb line the word of God.
Do children become a curse of blessing? Ouch!!! What do I mean? I have often seen people hide behind their children as a shield for their laziness toward God and the kingdom. They claim that they cannot make to time to church or serve because they now “have a child” as thought they have caught some deadly disease.
Our Story:I remember playing my guitar and flute all the 9 months of my pregnancy. I came early to the church meeting to set up as was part of my duty as a worship musician. We continued to do loads of hospitality through my pregnancies and even after the children were born. We attended scores of meetings and taught our children to fit into the family schedule. We are a family together on a mission !
When we moved to Pune, we were the only ones on the serving team initially i.e Colin, 7 year old Andrew and 6 month old Jessica. We would carry all the stuff to church and set up. I would lead worship and then go out and nurse my baby. After the meeting we would knock down and come home and have people over for a meal. This has been our practise and still is. How does one do it? When you ask God for his enabling grace, He gives it to you. That is my story.
So many things in our lives and culture need to be redeemed by the cross. What do I mean? I mean we need to subject every thought pattern, ethos, cultural practise to the Word of God .Our lives need to be radically obedient, and then it will be radically different and fruitful.
These are just a few things – there is soo much more. Take finance – that’s an area that needs deep challenging. I think a lot has been pondered upon here. Lets jump out of the pot and be radical for Jesus!
Navaz D Cruz