GAUGING OUR LIVES BY THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS

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GAUGING OUR LIVES BY THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS

How well am I doing?   Wait, let me ask the opinion of my friends.   Of course, hardly anyone would respond in that manner – or would they?    When it comes to achievements, measurable achievements, we have the stats to prove where we rank in our profession, sport, etc.  But why is it that we care so much what others think of our lives?    So many things we are told by others that we cannot do- dancing, singing, drawing –  that we accept those estimates of our abilities and stay away from trying to do creative activities, and thereby never know the joy of expressing ourselves artistically.    In other words, one should not try unless he can perform in the style of the “stars” –  that’s the only acceptable standard.   No one wants to be laughed at, so we probably don’t even do…

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GAUGING OUR LIVES BY THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS

GAUGING OUR LIVES BY THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS

How well am I doing?   Wait, let me ask the opinion of my friends.   Of course, hardly anyone would respond in that manner – or would they?    When it comes to achievements, measurable achievements, we have the stats to prove where we rank in our profession, sport, etc.  But why is it that we care so much what others think of our lives?    So many things we are told by others that we cannot do- dancing, singing, drawing –  that we accept those estimates of our abilities and stay away from trying to do creative activities, and thereby never know the joy of expressing ourselves artistically.    In other words, one should not try unless he can perform in the style of the “stars” –  that’s the only acceptable standard.   No one wants to be laughed at, so we probably don’t even do those things in private, for fear of being found out to be “no good at it.” 

I have a real problem with this standard being applied – for several reasons:   For one thing, the current popular “art” is not necessarily good – just popular, and that popularity can come in spite of the poor quality, music being a good example currently.   Another reason is that we place an unnecessary burden on ourselves when we ask others to approve of us or are afraid of rejection because we try to please others.

There is another area, though, that I deplore this “measuring up to others’ standards.   That is the area of religion….Christianity, basically.   There is a definite trend toward hiding our true devotion to God, if we think that devotion will be misunderstood or rejected and made fun of by the public.    There is an old, wrong-headed description of what a Christian ought to be: that is to ask the unbelieving non-Christian how he thinks a Christian ought to live.    There is so much wrong with that idea, yet many, if not most, would subscribe to it.    The effect of that “standard”  being employed is that Christians are much more concerned about pleasing men than they are about pleasing the God they profess to belong to and love.    Besides all that, a person who does not believe in God and does not understand spiritual things will be dead wrong most all the time.    It’s not a matter of common sense, or else people with common sense would automatically qualify as believers.    Actually, living for God is nearly backward from the common sense ideas of life.

“If you are a Christian, then you ought not to do…” is the opinion of the unbeliever.   Just how he arrives at that opinion, he never questions.    But are there things we “ought or ought not” do as Christians?   The Apostle Paul says, ” all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient”.  He also says that we are not to allow people to pressure us in the observance of certain days, etc.   Today, the dogma of political correctness allows for lewdness and impoliteness, but not intolerance.    Christians are judged, yet told not to judge, slandered, yet are subject to character assassination purely on the basis of their belief in Christ.   It is a no-win situation to try to please those who dislike your core values and your identity with Christ.   Gauging ourselves as Christians by the opinions of the world will produce a fruitless spiritual life and remove the joy and enjoyment of God from us.   We cannot live without Christ, who is our life.

How well am I doing?   Wait, let me ask the opinion of my friends.   Of course, hardly anyone would respond in that manner – or would they?    When it comes to achievements, measurable achievements, we have the stats to prove where we rank in our profession, sport, etc.  But why is it that we care so much what others think of our lives?    So many things we are told by others that we cannot do- dancing, singing, drawing –  that we accept those estimates of our abilities and stay away from trying to do creative activities, and thereby never know the joy of expressing ourselves artistically.    In other words, one should not try unless he can perform in the style of the “stars” –  that’s the only acceptable standard.   No one wants to be laughed at, so we probably don’t even do those things in private, for fear of being found out to be “no good at it.” 

I have a real problem with this standard being applied – for several reasons:   For one thing, the current popular “art” is not necessarily good – just popular, and that popularity can come in spite of the poor quality, music being a good example currently.   Another reason is that we place an unnecessary burden on ourselves when we ask others to approve of us or are afraid of rejection because we try to please others.

There is another area, though, that I deplore this “measuring up to others’ standards.   That is the area of religion….Christianity, basically.   There is a definite trend toward hiding our true devotion to God, if we think that devotion will be misunderstood or rejected and made fun of by the public.    There is an old, wrong-headed description of what a Christian ought to be: that is to ask the unbelieving nonChristianhow he thinks a Christian ought to live.    There is so much wrong with that idea, yet many, if not most, woud subscribe to it.    The effect of that “standard”  being employed is that Christians are much more concerned about pleasing men than they are about pleasing the God they profess to belong to and love.    Besides all that, a person who does not believe in God and does not understand spritiual things will be dead wrong most all the time.    It’s not a matter of common sense, or else people with common sense would automatically qualify as believers.    Actually, living for God is nearly backward from the common sense ideas of life.

“If you are a Christian, then you ought not to do…” is the opinion of the unbeliever.   Just how he arrives at that opinion, he never questions.    But are there things we “ought or ought not” do as Christians?   The Apostle Paul says, ” all things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient”.  He also says that we are not to allow people to pressure us in the observance of certain days, etc.   Today, the dogma of political correctness allows for lewdness and impoliteness, but not intolerance.    Christians are judged, yet told not to judge, slandered yet are subject to character assassination purely on the basis of their belief in Christ.   It is a no-win situation to try to please those who dislike your core values and your identity with Christ.   Gauging our selves as Christians by the opinions of the world will produce a fruitless spiritual life and remove the joy and enjoyment of God from us.   We cannot live without Christ, who is our life.

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God Is In Charge

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalm 103:19 ESV)
How is it, then, that we creatures of His design and purpose come to suppose that we can overrule His authority and will? Why should He shape His Church in the way that we desire? And just how do we justify our dislike of the church on the basis of its not fitting our conception of the church as we would shape it?
Is it so difficult to accept God’s design of the church that we feel alienated from it, or is it that we are not really members of His Body? When we say that we have given the Church a chance to meet our needs and She has failed, we are using ourselves as the measuring stick rather than submitting to the sovereign Lord.

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What Does Coram Deo Mean?

From R.C. Sproul: To live Coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

These were some of my thoughts concerning that definition: First, it always amazes me how I can live so long and study so much and still be so ignorant. I had never seen or heard this phrase before. Second, I realize that there are relatively few people in comparison to Earth’s total population who ever consider God at all; but all people everywhere are living in the presence of God and don’t know it – or hope that it’s not so. In the book of Romans we are shown that there is no excuse for not knowing that God is there and that He is the Author of all creation. Still, men are hoping to find that the Cause is not a cause or a person at all, but a series of random, uncaused events. Third, the authority of God is something that even some Christians waver on. The idea that God is the sovereign Lord of all the universe and that nothing is not in His control and under His authority, is too frightening for men to want to comprehend. Yet on both these points, the presence and the authority of God, the truth is that they are real and unchanging for everyone.

Third, living to the glory of God is something that we think of as how a believer in Christ ought to live. Our desire should be to please Him, to love Him, to honor Him, and ultimately glorify Him by all that we think, do, and say. How often have I not lived up to those ideals. Yet they are more than ideals to be achieved. They are the reality of the spiritual life of the born-again believer. The fact that we don’t see ourselves doing these things – feeling like doing them, is an indication that our physical and mental life is not catching up with our new nature. Whatsoever is born of God does not sin, the Bible says; so the problem is not with God’s new creation, but with the fact that we are having trouble “seeking those things that are above, where Christ is.” But, we are not two persons. The person that we are in Christ, the redeemed child of God, is our true identity and we have to let go of that old person – even the “good” part of him that we always hoped would become the ruling part. The talents and learned abilities that God has blessed us with and our looks and personalities are tools for living in this present life, but the phrase “coram Deo” must be the ruling principle for using those tools. Our success in this life is not really to be measured by our fame, our wealth, or our personal relationships. Naturally, we think that the more of those things we have, the happier we’ll be and the more that God will be pleased with us. Yet we all know of many who achieved great “success” only to become the unhappiest, and to end their lives in disaster and disillusionment.

So, we all do live in the presence of God, whether or not we think so; and we all are under the authority of God, even if we “kick against the goads” so to speak. But do we all glorify God? God will have His way with all of us, so do we glorify Him even in our disobedience and ignorance of Him and His authority – does that mean that it’s OK to sin? The apostle Paul addressed this question: “should we sin more that more grace will abound? God forbid!” We can’t defeat God’s purpose by our exerting our will against His. After having considered this coram Deo, I can see that we (I) need to let it become the ruling principle of life, our canvas on which we put the strokes of the paintbrushes of our (my) life. Since the first two principles are inevitable, the third will follow for those whom God is calling – which we ought to believe would include everyone, if they will hear Him.

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Putting My Toes In

I’m still waiting on the next step for me.  Hello to any old friends who may be here also.

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