God is good.
These are words often uttered to those experiencing difficult trials in their lives. Unfortunately, these also are words that often sound hollow to the one experiencing those trials--cotton-candy, feel-good, substanceless words in the midst of excruciating pain or unbearable temptation:
God is good.
Since the garden of Eden, one of humanity’s greatest temptations is to doubt that Author of Good is truly good. In the opening chapters of Genesis, everything God creates is “very good.” Yet, when the serpent comes to Eve, he plants this thought in her mind: God is withholding good from me.
When you hear “repentance,” what do you think of? Often we mean little more than reading off our list of bad actions so that God will forgive us. Perhaps we go a little bit deeper and acknowledge our wrong thoughts as well. Both of those are good, but they’re not enough. Do your prayers go down to the level of your heart, not just your head and hands?
Do you share with God your hopes, dreams, disappointments, and feelings? Do you ever admit to God that you’re depressed because you didn’t get what you want? Or that you are frustrated because someone failed to recognize you publicly? Have you ever told God that you didn’t feel like going to church Sunday evening, or that you’re scared to share the gospel with your co worker?
You’ve read the articles and gone to the seminars about it. You’ve seen the info graphics and watched the videos about it. You may have even sought out the advice of the self-described “professional” on how in the world to reach this demographic known as The Millennials. Yet there still doesn’t seem to be much conclusive help as to how to reach this group.
The problem is that we’re not treating millennials as individuals. Instead, there’s a common misconception that millennials are all the same and you can reach them all in the same way. I’m a millennial, and I’m much different than other millennials that I work with and interact with on a daily basis. We’re not all the same!
When in the throes of discouragement over spiritual failure, nothing rings more hollow than the exhortation, “just shape up and try harder.” It sounds insensitive--oblivious to deeper struggles, like the words of a bystander yelling “just run faster!” to a dehydrated, crawling marathon runner at the twenty-fifth mile.
If you were struggling with a habitual sin about which you’re deeply discouraged, how would you respond if you came to me, asked me for words of comfort, and I said to you, “Shape up! You just need to start acting more like a Christian”?
How insensitive, you might say, Don’t you think I already know that? Such a statement in the midst of spiritual discouragement would indeed sound insensitive, but is it really bad advice? After all, doesn’t Ephesians 4:1 say, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”? Couldn’t we paraphrase that verse by saying, “start acting like a Christian”? I would say that, yes, the statement is indeed Scriptural in its content--If you are struggling with a habitual sin, you do, in fact, need to start acting more like a Christian. The question is, when do you need to know it? At what point in our interaction would it be appropriate for me to tell you “you need to start acting more like a Christian”? Is it possible that such advice is scripturally accurate in its content, but unscriptural when given in certain contexts?
Is it possible to use Scripture in an unscriptural way?
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