Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Choosing Friends

 Something has been plaguing me lately, and it's a matter concerning those i call friends. This is not a post intended to share anything that has been learned, but rather a bit of a rant tinged with introspection.
 Second Timothy has a clear warning that, in the "last days," perilous and terrible things will happen.
People will be self-loving, money-loving, proud, arrogant, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, uncontrolled, brutal, hateful of good, traitorous, headstrong, swollen with conceit, loving pleasure rather than God, as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power. (v.2-5, CJB)
 What's worse is these things are taught as not only normal, but good.
 "Yes! Love yourself! Be empowered! Do what you want to--" No! This is not the way it's supposed to be.
 And the love of money? Well, golly, nobody loves money, they just want more of it!
 Proud, arrogant, insulting . . . Our society tells us that we should love ourselves, and the result is just these things; we think we're better than everyone else.
 Disobedient to parents. Scarcely in a secular (read: popular) children's program are children actually encouraged to obey their parents. In fact, some actually discourage it. And the generation is evil, wicked, lawless, faithless, and so on.
 I could go on with each topic listed, but i'll cut to the chase.

 One sentence was left out from that passage.
Stay away from these people!
 Other translations (KJV) say, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
 This isn't aimed at heathens--at least not at heathens that don't know Christ. This is aimed at those falsely claiming to be Christians; people that clap their hands on Sunday, pray a prayer, maybe even shed a tear, then go back to their sexual immorality, their vile tongues, their intoxicating drink, their cigarettes, their sports worship, their idolatry, their obsessions with money, their obscene gestures, their crude joking, their filthy forms of entertainment . . .
 Shall i go on, or would that step on even more toes?
 People who claim to follow Christ but ignore the voice of God, are without conviction, teach a false gospel, say something is "innocent enough," make God into a magic genie, repost everything that says to repost it in order for God to bless them (this is a contrary gospel) . . .
"People whose minds no longer function properly and who have been deprived of the truth, so that they imagine that religion is a road to riches." (1 Timothy 6:5, CJB, emphasis mine)
 Stay away from these people (CJB). Have nothing to do with such people (NIV). From such people turn away (NKJV).
 Basically, don't associate with them. Avoid them. Get them out of your life. Purge the contaminate before it makes you sick.

 Again, it does not say to avoid those who don't know any better; Jesus ate with sinners--find me one instance where He chose the company of anyone who claimed to follow Him but only publicly. He didn't. He kept company with sincere hearts and those who had not heard.

 And here we are in the twenty-first century, where ungodliness and vulgarity are praised, where Christ is more often used as a curse than a blessing, where music and movies and television shows openly deny God to the point of portraying anyone who does believe in Him to be stupid. And it has seeped into our churches.
 If a pastor actually condemns sin, he's got a small congregation. If a person speaks of God in daily life, he's laughed at*. If anyone chooses a stricter way of life, they are scorned and people cry, "legalist!*" If one abstains from sexual immorality or from alcohol, they are repeatedly invited to bars and strip clubs*.
 Because people hate a Gospel that actually changes you.
 Because it's all supposed to be on the outside.
 Because nothing that flows from the mouth (the overflow of the heart) should have anything to do with God.
 And if it does, it bothers them. They cringe. They don't want to believe that anything is honestly wrong with acting like everyone else. They don't want to see it change someone else because they don't want to have to change themselves. They want to be comfortable with their flesh.
 They're lovers of self.
 Lovers of sin.
 Stay away from these people!

 Who, then, are we left to fellowship with? A circle of honest believers we can count on a single hand? Are we to seek purposeful naivete? Not so! for Christ knew the hearts of those He walked past--He discerned, and yet He chose only eleven (a twelfth that He knew would betray Him).
 And here is a glorious promise, unknowingly fulfilled by the world: If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19, ESV)

 We will be hated. Though i have never been beaten nor spit upon nor threatened, merely mocked and ridiculed, for my faith, we should greet it as the apostles; "...overjoyed at having been considered worthy of suffering disgrace on account of Him." (Acts 5:41, CJB)
It is sad for sure when people can insult the idea of Christ dying for them, and that often brings me to tears. But our personal disgrace in the eyes of the world we will count as a grace from God. It means we're doing something right.

 And then there are certainly those who will say, "Well, you know, you have to look at who that was written to," or, "That was for a specific person or group," or, "That doesn't apply anymore because of Christ."
I am taking for granted those same people are discounting the fact that, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living." (2 Timothy 3:16, CJB, emphasis mine)
 All Scripture. That does not have an asterisk, a footnote, a cross-reference, it is just simply put that all Scripture is applicable. That the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the same God who wrought destruction and wrath on Sodom, the same God whose anger makes the earth shake and tremble, the same God who has wrath and fury, is in all actuality the same God that loves us enough to give us Christ as propitiation for sin. Christ did not abolish Scripture, but fulfilled it.
 All Scripture, regardless of who it was written to, is valuable to us for the things mentioned because it is God-breathed.

 *denotes that which i've experienced from Christians

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