Sunday, January 14, 2018

“I Don’t Care”?

Many years ago now, I heard a lively congregation in Kentucky sing a peppy old gospel song which included the line, “I don’t care what this world says about me. . . .”
Those words can encourage sincere saints to be strong and faithful, but most of the people who have sung that song over the years were only puffing themselves up in singing it, for the world wasn’t really saying anything about them.  They were singing about an imaginary persecution, and boasting of an imaginary courage in the face of it.
We cannot really know whether or not we care what the world says about us until the world says something about us.  Until then, our task is to do the will of God so that we earn the test of genuine persecution, and if we do the will of God, that test will surely come.  And when that persecution comes, we will then, for the first time, know whether or not we care what the world says about us.
If the world has not yet said anything about you, please sing that old hymn prayerfully, asking God for grace to let those words prove true when your time comes to be tested.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Preserving the Treasures of the Gospel

January 2, 2018

I have spent the last ten days or so traipsing through antique ruins of Rome, “the eternal city”, straining my neck to view the tops of majestic monuments, trudging for hours over rocky paths and roads, climbing several of Rome’s famed seven hills, and squinting into dim underground caverns to glimpse graves deserted of the corpses they used to cover.  I have meandered through galleries viewing broken bits and pieces of a culture which many think is extinct but is actually well-preserved in a different form by those who are its heirs.  Much of what I saw would normally be cast aside as worthless junk, but through the efforts of lovers of that past, it is revered, fenced off, and presented as a precious testimony to a special life and time.  Dirty pieces of that past, all but insignificant even when new, are now encased, guarded, and allowed to be viewed only by those who pay the price of admission.  The enormous expense – gladly paid – and the enormous effort – gladly made – to preserve these ruins is part of the glorification of the culture whence those objects came.  Nothing of it that remains is deemed unimportant; indeed, it is all esteemed as nearly sacrosanct.
I have at least one thing in common with the spiritual descendants of Rome.  They glorify Rome and are devoted to perpetuating that Empire in its revised form, Christendom.  Their predecessors long ago blended Roman culture with the faith of Christ to produce the world’s greatest religion, Christianity, to which well over a billion people on earth now belong.  I am devoted, just as Christians are, to preserving something that existed two thousand years ago.  I know how it feels to be devoted to an ancient thing, to treasure the least bits of it.  I know the passion; I feel the same compulsion to go to any expense and to make every effort to preserve what my heart esteems as precious.  But the object of my devotion is not Roman culture or the religion that came from it; rather, the object of my devotion is the pure and simple gospel of Christ.  I do not glory in grand basilicas of the past or present, or in ancient or modern epitaphs, mosaics, or statues.  I glory in the love of God revealed to us through Christ and the apostles.  Every truth of Christ that I have learned is encased within my heart; I contemplate its beauty for hours.  I marvel at the gospel’s majesty, which, unlike Christian monuments and art, has not faded, though men have often plastered over its beauty with their doctrines, and covered its gold with the silt of vain traditions, and even though Christianity itself has many times attempted to eradicate it from the earth by persecuting those who treasured it.
It is my chief joy to discover any bit of the truth, any remnant of the true gospel, and I am constantly and diligently searching for it.  You are also invited to do so.  And you are promised that “if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures”, then you will find Christ, the hidden wisdom of God.  Please let me know what you find so that we may rejoice together.