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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The (un)Holy War

Sunday, 8 March, 2009. "Faith in Action!" - James 4: 1-12

-Rob Harrod

James tells us that there should not be wars and fights between us and fellow christians. "Where do these things come from?" He asks. Christians have been given everything - the Holy Spirit, eternal life, cancelled debt and God blesses us every day - and yet we fight with each other. This is incompatible with Christianity, says James, in effect. We are one body and yet we members fight with each other. To shock us out of our apathy and complacency - our acceptance of this as a natural thing to happen in God's church, James uses some strong words.

- He calls these fights a "war". By doing this he is trying to show us just how horrific it is when christians fight each other. It breaks down our relationships with each other, and it very often damages our relationships with God - sometimes to the point of people totally turning away from God. The casualty lists of these wars are always high.

- Jesus commanded us to love each other! Our love was to be so strong, that it would mirror the love that God showed us when He sacrificed His own Son for us. (note: if we kept this love very strong between us, there would not be the same chances that we fought with each other).

-James says: "Adulterers and adulteresses!" Many of these fights come from selfishness, of Christians wanting pleasure and things that they cannot have. It is worldliness, and James says that worldliness in christians is the same as being an adulterer/adulteress. Instead of being totally content with what God has given us (and He's given us a fair bit!) we lust after what the world says we should have - and when you keep in mind that the church is the Bride of Christ, you get a horrible picture of this Bride of Christ becoming an adulteress - falling in love with the world.

Scary stuff.
  • James does not become politically correct here and blame the environment for our sin. He nails the problem and blames it on our own sinful hearts.
(note: if you let the environment determine the way you act, you are not exercising self control- you are letting your feelings take over and then unfairly blaming the people around you, or the circumstances that helped you to your actions).
- we all do this - becoming worldly, loving the things of this world rather than our one love being Christ. We enjoy having something that we love on our little throne that we worship - sure, Christ is there but He's off to the side and second place.
- often noone will know, if we have replaced God for some idol in our lives. We go to church and look pretty decent outwardly. Inside, we're pagans.

  • God jealously longs for us to love Him best.
So, to do this and to sort through problems with other christians:

1. If we ask Him, God will give us the grace and forebearance to love other christians the way He loved us. (wow, wouldn't that be an amazing church, if we all did that.. didn't Jesus say that other people would know we were christians because of our great love for one another?)

2. Be humble. Submit to God.

3. Resist the Devil. He will actually and fantastically, flee from you - (you with the help from God of course. He wouldn't flee just because of you).

4. Draw nearer to God and He will draw near to you. Have consistent meetings with God: make your love for Him THE biggest, the best, the most important thing in your life. If you get this part right, every other relationship will benefit from it.

5. CLEAN UP YOUR ACT!!!!!! - As in, right now. (Mr. Harrod didn't say this quite as loudly or emphatically as no. 5 makes out, but I reckon it's the main point. Didn't want you to miss it..)
-Make God your first priority.

6. Be serious about sin. Repent, mourn, weep - it's easy to get accustomed to sin - on TV, the newspaper, covers of magazines, books - anywhere. Don't become immune to this, says James.

7. Humble yourself in the sight of God - He will lift you up. That's an amazing promise.

8. Do not speak evilly of another christian. (note: this one made me wither up and die of shame. How easy it is to diss other people and not see your own sin.)
- Rather, speak uplifting words about them - if you have to mention their bad points, then balance it fairly with their good points.

- Evaluate yourself rather than others. There will usually be something staring you in the face if you look at yourself first. (perhaps this is why we tend to skip the self-evaluation part.)

I haven't done justice to the sermon of course, but you get the general idea. Some things really hit home with me - for instance, speaking negatively about other christians, evaluating myself rather than others, making God my number 1 priority. After all, we only live once so why not be the best people we can for God?

I'd love to hear what you think about the sermon. It would be sooo great if we GBC people (Grace Baptist Church, for the uninitiated) could discuss the sermon a little more. We would get so much more out of it if we did that, and we'd also be accountable to each other to be applying these sermons effectively to our lives.


Blogger Simeon said...

I wasn't there to hear it but a very good dialogue there Lyd !!

I really like what you mention in the last paragraph about getting so much more out of the sermons.

Keep it up !

6:02 pm  
Blogger Lydz said...

Thanks for the encouragement Simeon :)
yes, I reckon the sermons we listen to are so good we can't waste them.

10:33 pm  
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Hi there Lydz,

Remind me….this is the same James that said it was fine for a father to kill his only son in the name of God? (that someone being Abraham)

James thinks it is perfectly fine for Christians to kill in the name of their God – even their own children.

So if you picked a role model for Christian peace-making you picked a bad one.

By the way my favourite bible passage on this topic is:

Matthew 10:34 - "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword"

See ya.


1:48 pm  
Anonymous Andy Moore said...

James thinks it is perfectly fine for Christians to kill in the name of their God – even their own children.

Incorrect. James is referring to a situation where God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his son. Abraham trusted God and even though it didn't make sense to him, was going to go ahead with the sacrifice - until God interevened and provided the ram. You know the story.

Matthew 10:34 is a good verse. Of course you will have read it in the context of the passage, and understood that it is not talking about a literal sword, but about the division that different religions bring to families and societies, etc.

3:07 pm  
Blogger Lydz said...

thanks for you comments, Paul and Andy.

Paul - your comment got me thinking. What you're talking about is from James chap 2, verses 20 - 24, in the context of faith and good works.

As Andy explained,
James is not saying here that the singular case of God's test of Abraham should be practiced by all christians. He is using it as a one - off example that Abraham believed God so much, that he was willing to sacrifice his only son for Him. He knew that if he did sacrifice his son, God would raise his son up, because of the promise He'd made.

James is all for peace - of a sort. He also advocates for christians to fight the spiritual battle. What he finds disgusting is when Christians fight each other in little, petty squables that destroy the church.

Romans 12:18 says: "If it is possible, insofar as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men."

So yes, we are to be peace makers - but that shouldn't stop us standing up for the truth either, which will sometimes cause wars and fights.

6:11 pm  
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Sorry guys, I took those passages literally.

Is there a copy of The Bible I can buy which has say:

Black Print: this is Gods word, take it literally.

Red Print: don’t take literally,instead view it in a lesser metaphorical and semantic sense.

That would come in handy so that when James says things like (2:10)"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" - I can try and make sense of what he is saying, either literally or figuratively.

Surely God should have made this easier for modern-man?

See ya.


12:15 pm  
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Sorry forgot to ask....

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak” [ Corinthians 14:3]

Do we take this lierally or is there room to move?



12:31 pm  
Blogger Lydz said...

Hi Canterbury Atheists,

These New Testement writers were writing mainly to Jews - people who were the chosen of God, who had all that history of the Old Testement and understood the figurative language and the signs God used back then. Of course, they were writing to Gentiles too, non-Jewish people in the NT who now were saved by faith.

The Gentiles, like us, would have had to study all the history in the OT that had come before - to make sense of the fufilled prophecies and the somewhat obscure - sounding references made in the NT.

You quoted James 2:10..
it's like someone with leprousy - if they had one spot of leprousy on them they'd be called a leper. In the same way, if we break even one of God's laws we have sinned against the law that is incorporated in each law: The command to love others and God. By sinning - stealing, adultery, lying - we are not loving God or others, we are just giving in to ourselves.
I find this hard to understand... but I know it's the truth because I believe God.

You also mentioned Corinthians 14:3...

WELL, this has sure caused a lot of controversy over the years. Yes, we take this literally - Paul is speaking here in the context of giving advice to sister - churches and he even backs up what he's saying by mentioning that Eve sinned first.

This is also quite difficult for me, as a woman, to come to grips with. Women are not allowed to speak in churches - however, they are obviously allowed to sing, and there is a reference somewhere in the NT to women prophecying.
What is meant by "silence" is that women are not to have authority over a man in the context of the church. Paul says, somewhere around that area of Cor 14:3, that "I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man" - also in the context of the church.

God's order of creation is for men to be the leaders and women the helpers - see Genesis. They are equal (see Genesis) but have different roles. In the church it is quite clear that women are not to have any form of leadership - this does not apply of course to careers. I do however see the sense, in most cases, for women to have more helping roles (often, these can be very important positions) and men to have the leadership roles. That's my opinion though, not the Bible's.

10:40 pm  
Blogger Canterbury Atheists said...

Sorry Lydz,

This makes no sense to me a layman, if every passage in The Bible has a double meaning, or as you intimate The Bible is written for a different people in a different time = no one can read it today and make sense of it, in its 'raw form'.

So why the interest in this book, when clearly it is unreadable, unless you enjoy fantasy-world stuff like unicorns, dragons or zombies etc?

It's writings on leprosy (Hansens disease)display a medical naivety and clearly show that God knew nothing of the disease.

Sorry I don't agree we should relegate females to the role of helpers in society, simply because of this one book and if you don't agree with this - why bother being a Christian?

Gotta shoot.


3:20 pm  

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