When we are about to plan for a holiday, we may worry more about dying in a plane crash, then a car accident — even though the drive to the airport has a far greater risk. We worry about the weather and perhaps the travel insurance and necessary vaccinations. So it goes with diseases, depending on personality we tend to fear distant threats, like Ebola, Yellow fever, Cholera and ignore the much likelier: heart disease, diabetes.
Those with the presumed luxury of doing so have stopped being afraid of the illnesses we no longer see altogether, the diseases that remain painful, fatal, and widely feared before vaccines, antibiotics and general medical care stepped in to protect us who have access to them with almost miraculous efficiency . . . gangrene, and tetanus. And yet, even today thousands die on these because they don't have access, or are unaware of the danger of even a small nick with a rusty nail.
Indifference is such a rusty nail in the life of the church, conforming is such a rusty nail, complacency another. We become indifferent, conformed, and complacent to the pattern of this world once again when the ways we think and live fit nicely with how this fallen, broken and mislead world thinks and lives. Indifference, conforming, and being complacent is what makes the world's ways seem normal, "everybody does it", and God's ways seem strange, and unattainable.
|Do we fear we miss something?|
We have often reduced conforming to the world to a list of behaviours -- drinking of alcohol, smoking, dancing, going to movies, and perhaps more current getting pierced or a tattoo. But that is actually not what Scripture defines as conforming to the world. Conforming is exposed as an internal, invisible problem before it is an external and visible one, which makes it much harder to detect. The challenge of being conformed to the world once again is that its happening is ever so gradual and goes largely unnoticed. Over time, for the church, cultural assumptions and societal trends serve as the directing influence for how to think, feel, and live. But when we don't have a clear sense of what ought to make us different, we even lose our ability to yearn to be different, and we lose our ability to make a difference altogether. We need to see God's plan for creation, His blueprint; what once was, what now is, and what one day will be. We need to regain the ability to see what one day will be, not to make us miserable in the present moment and unthankful for what is, but for us to seek, to yearn for the Kingdom yet to come.
For this reason, I believe, a daily dose of antibiotics through the reading of God's word, time spent in prayer and in being with other Christians is necessary. God's word informs our thinking, softens our hearts, and challenges our wills. It has the power to confront sin in our lives, sin which naturally makes us increasingly biased, blind, and thoughtless. God's word exposes our need for a God-centered readjustment of our thinking, feeling and living while the wisdom of this world wants us to believe all is fine all the while we struggle with one another. If we don't have a clear understanding of what the blueprint looks like, our mission will lack focus, direction, and purpose and we will concern us with the wrong things. And you perhaps have noticed, I wrote in the plural, our, us, we, because it is all to easy to affirm ones own thoughts and behaviour and justify them to oneself.
I don't think we have the luxury to be indifferent, conforming and complacent to what is happening all around us and to pretend that that does not affect us. It is true, as follower of Jesus we have been given a new life, a new way of life, a new destiny. This is why disciples operate according to different standards, with different goals and motivations and an altogether different perspective on status, power, money, possession or lifestyle. Our thoughts, our alliances, our affections, our priorities, our passions and pursuits all are to be different since we are on a different path of life altogether.
However, I have been pastor for too long not to realize that when it comes to the way we think about marriage, parenting, sexual orientation, politics, finances, education, career and even ministry programs plenty of us, and I am not free from that danger either, less from God's word but gurus like Dr. Phil and Oprah.
So, who dares to be countercultural, and who, like John the Baptist, will serve as a vioce crying out in the wilderness, fearing only God?