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Monday, October 13, 2008

Ignorant of his wiles? (SF 1)

The apostle Paul claimed, on behalf of the first generation of believers, "we are not ignorant of (satan's) devices." Can our generation say the same today? Or have we allowed ourselves to do what the Bible insists we must not do, "become conformed to the spirit of the age"; a spirit that is stubbornly and insistently opposed to God and His ways?

Over the last 15 years I've done a lot of studying and contemplating on the question of what it means to be conformed to the world, that is, to the spirit of the age, in early 21st century USA.

In addition to post-graduate studies at Gordon-Conwell Seminary and teaching a class at Simpson College on "Faith and Culture" I have read scores of books and taken hundreds of pages of notes.

After awhile your mind gets filled with ideas about "consumerism" and "materialism" and "post-modernism" and "hedonism" and "subjectivism" and a dozen or more equally insidious "-isms" that form a sort of shorthand for the philosophies and cultural habits that condition our thinking in non-biblical ways.

What I still wasn't getting, after all this time, was a summarizing concept; a way to succinctly shorten all these so-called "shorthand" labels into a defining concept that would pinpoint the underlying satanic strategy to infiltrate the minds and lifestyles of Christians and render us spiritually impotent.

Teaching people about a bunch of "-isms" and their dangers wasn't cutting it. Helpful- yes; truly liberating- no.

Over the last year, however, my thinking has finally begun to crystallize and I believe I can summarize the basic gist of satan's core strategy in one word. Granted, anytime you do that you risk oversimplifying. I'm not saying that this is all there is to be said, but I am ready to say that I think that this is where the crux of the battle is being fought, and, to be honest, lost.

I'll be saying more about this in the months ahead, and, in our congregation, we will be exploring (throughout 2009) practical (i.e., radical, but realistic) ways to not only face up to this battle (as few are doing) but even, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, turn the tide. But for now, I'll just give you the one-sentence summary and let you mull and pray over that yourself for awhile.

Make no mistake, this will be a battle. This is so insidious, and has become such a deep part of us, that many, if not most will shrink back from this battle, opt out, much like the "great" warriors of Israel did when confronted by Goliath.

This is OUR Goliath, and I'm sure that my practical suggestions will seem like not much more than a sling and five smooth stones. But I am confident that, as with David, there are invisible Realities, that will make our weapons much more powerful than they appear!

As in the parable of the sower, there will be yet others who will enter the battle with initial enthusiasm but will quickly drop out. When I say "radical, but realistic", I'm serious about both halves of that equation.

Here's my thesis: Satan's major strategy to undermine the Church in our generation, can be summed up as: Impulsiveness. I'll develop what I mean later. For now I'll just say that the opposite of impulsiveness, in real world terms, is Habit.

I'd rather let you mull this over yourself than spell out my case. I'll just add one clarification: I'm not saying that good habits are all we need to be godly. I am saying that they are necessary, and that they are the opposite of impulsiveness, and that the habits necessary for godliness are largely absent from our generation.

Feel free to comment. More... much more to come!


David Haddon said...

!?Like "Me first!"?! I look forward to your elucidation of your point.

Matthew said...

I may agree about impulsiveness (you'll have to flesh it out). What I have seen a lot of is a lack of love for fellow person, which translates into "screw you", lack of forgiveness, understanding, and empathy, that breeds more of the same. A lack of community, a lack of believing that we're all in it together (especially a belief that the ones not in one's specific community aren't relevant or can be separated from one somehow).

Mark Swanson said...

Matthew- I will say more soon. What you are observing is fruit. As Jesus said, we need to get to the root of the problem. How is our congenital selfishness transformed into genuine love? Thanks for the input.

Michelle said...

Looking forward to more. I don't see at the moment that impulsiveness would be the root of selfishness. But I agree that there's a lot of the "me first" thinking going around...