Return to 2nd Quarter 2021 articles.
Today, we are seeing political extremism in the United States. It has been going worldwide for a long time, but now we see it in our own country. Those who take extreme positions in politics, education, and religion are guided mainly by ignorance. Those of us with a background in science continue to be appalled at the statements of politicians who repeatedly demonstrate that they do not understand the most basic facts of biology and medical science. The Does God Exist? ministry has been dedicated to education because most religious conflicts and division are rooted in ignorance.
This is an old problem. Acts 14:8-13 gives an account of Paul and Barnabas bringing relief to a crippled man. The bystanders who witnessed this amazing recovery immediately attributed it to Zeus and Hermes and decided that Paul was Hermes and Barnabas was Zeus. The notion that simple humans could do great things was beyond the crowd's comprehension. Some people rejected Jesus because he came from a humble background, did not have an elaborate physical structure to operate from, and spent time working with the common people. The general public wanted a flashy extreme solution to their problems with elaborate rituals.
Nothing has changed. People today still want leaders who are flashy, live in opulent surroundings, and offer entertaining messages. We have over 200 different denominational groups because people want someone to entertain them with something dazzling and unconventional. Here are some specific examples of this that we all should consider.
WE WANT FLASHY ACTIONS FROM THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Acts 2:38-39 promised that those who become Christians would have “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 8:9 tells us that this means we are not controlled by sin but by God's Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 3:16, we learn that we are the dwelling place of God's Spirit. For many people, that is too simple. They want a Spirit that overpowers and makes us do extreme physical things, including trances, tongue-speaking, prophesying, and casting out demons.
Paul warns us in 1 Thessalonians, Do not put out the Spirit's fire. The Spirit covers for us in our prayers (Romans 8:26-28). Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that he gives us the ability to be patient. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, we learn that the Holy Spirit gives us the power to be cheerful givers. Numerous passages tell us that the Spirit helps us resist temptation.
WE TEND TO OVERREACT TO NEGATIVISM.
The fact is that the “Gospel” IS GOOD NEWS, not a bunch of condemnations and “thou shalt nots.” Over and over, the Bible tells us that the gospel is a positive, joyous thing. Read Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 5:1, 22. Remember that among the fruits of the Spirit are joy and peace.
WE TEND TO OVER EMPHASIZE TRADITIONS.
In Matthew 15:3-9, Jesus addressed people who were hung up on traditions by saying, “You nullify the word of God for the sake of your traditions.” Colossians 2:8 warns Christians about philosophy that depends on human tradition.
We in the twenty-first century are loaded down with traditions. We think that we have to have a building to be the church, yet there is no command or biblical example of the church having a building. We have a tradition of singing four-part harmony using the diatonic scale, even though the biblical models were mostly chants of psalms. We have added musical instruments to make our worship more entertaining, even though the biblical church does not appear to have used instruments. We have a tradition of having a preacher with a religious title who tells entertaining monologues even though we have no command to do so.
The list of things we do by tradition is almost endless. Some of these traditions might be helpful, but others have been divisive and a waste of resources.
WHAT DOES GOD WANT?
In 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, we see what God desires of those who claim to be Christians. Be a servant to all men (1 Corinthians 9:19). Put ourselves in the place of others (1 Corinthians 9:20-22). Be temperate in all things (1 Corinthians 9:25). Show purpose in our lives (1 Corinthians 9:26). Exert self-control (1 Corinthians 9:27). Remember that we can still be drawn away by Satan (1 Corinthians 9:27).
I beg you to consider these things. You can choose to be extreme in how you do your work, what habits you have, how negative you are, and what view you give those who see you and your life. Show instead how you love peace, how you love everyone, and that you have Christian joy. Doing that means your life will bear incredible fruit.
You'll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn't produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you'll recognize them by their fruit.
— The words of Jesus from Matthew 7:16-20 CSB
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Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.