Monday, December 22, 2008
Presents Vs. Presence
As Christmas is now only days away and most everyone has purchased their gifts that will be given, I have a simple question for you. “What is it that you are giving… to your friends, to your sons, to your daughters?” Got it in your head? Good. I talk with strangers, acquaintances, family and friends, many who claim to be Believers, followers of Christ - all awaiting Christmas mornings arrival to give gifts of all kinds. I wonder, as children gather beside the tree, what will unfold before their eyes as the paper and bows are tossed about? I’m talking to you, self-proclaimed follower of Christ. I’m talking to you, Christian parent, what world are you unveiling to your children?
I will preface all that I will say with this – my wife and I have no children. But you know what we do have? The Spirit of the LORD living within us – flourishing. He has called us to holiness, out of this world and all of its desires. We live lives that consist of even fussing at each other frequently about the realities of living a life worthy of Christ’s sacrifice. We will accept no substitutes and tolerate nothing that opposes the furthering of holiness and righteousness before the LORD. With that being said, if we had children, we know, without one doubt or question, he/she would be raised quite differently than the majority of the children we encounter. Yes, it would be difficult. Yes, it would make waves. Yes, it would be hard to explain to the child at times. But, above all else, I’m confident to say that we would value holiness and correct approaches in regard to worldly things, according to the Word of God. It is far more important to value righteousness than to be accepted and approved in the eyes of men.
Now, back to my questions -I ask you brother, sister in the LORD, what will your son, your daughter be unwrapping this year? Will it be something that draws them deeper into the world? Will it be something that will consume even more of their time that is already spent on earthly things? Will it be something that caters to a new level of their flesh? Will it further the advancement of the Kingdom of God in their lives? Will it assist in establishing holiness and purity before the LORD? Will it root them deeper in the realities of the Word of God?
I can already hear many of you asking, “Well what are they supposed to do? Stay holed up in their room reading the Bible all day?” For starters, I’m not some legalistic anti-fun kind of guy. I’m not saying to have Bible Study for three hours every night, I’m saying do you sit down with your spouse and discuss the spiritual issues that face you and your family? Example: You’re at the mall and you see the latest thing that every child on the planet would love to have. Your coworkers son is getting one this year - you’ve even heard them bragging about splurging on it for their child. You look at your spouse and say, “Well, you know, we can afford it this year. Why not? His feelings will be hurt if he doesn’t get one and all of his friends do. Let’s do it – he’ll love it.” Where does one stop and look deeper? Where do the heads of the Christian families stop and assess the spiritual side to this? Do they ask questions like “What is at the heart of this gift? What is it saying spiritually? Does it have any ‘hidden agenda’ that I should take the time to look into?” Does anyone do this???
Let’s get real specific , shall we? Rock Band – innocent fun for kids, right? After all, it’s just good fun! Is it? Oh, so it’s OK I guess to have your entire family play along to AC/DC’s songs about hell (among other things)? That stupid Walmart commercial that brags about how “Rock Band brought my family together for the first time” makes me want to throw up! What about its predecessor, Guitar Hero? Of course it’s harmless – it’s just a fake guitar and some cool technology! Really? I played it about a year ago… for about five minutes and turned it off. It was one of the most demonic things I’ve ever seen in mainstream “entertainment” – I didn’t even want it in my house. I can hear many of you moan and groan already! “Ohhhh come on now, you MUST be kidding, right?” Not in the slightest! If you think that “selling your soul to the devil” to become a “rock god” is all in good fun, then I dare say you even know the definition of holiness. I don’t know which is worse, those who don’t even know about the underlying themes or those who know and just don’t care. To all who are reading this who claim to be in Christ, I dare say you have any intimacy with the LORD if you take part in this kind of stuff and are OK with it. Is this tough love? You’d better believe it is! But if you know the LORD and walk according to the Spirit that indwells you, these things are seen as plain as day!
How about another hot holiday gift that is reportedly flying off the shelves this year - the book Twilight will be unwrapped by many a teen within the next few days. Of course it’s already all over the place due to the blockbuster movie, but now the book sales are skyrocketing. Christian parents who are giving your child books for Christmas – have you read them from cover to cover? Do you know what will be going into your child for the rest of their days? Perhaps an excerpt from a mainstream review of the book Twilight might help make my point. “Although Bella was inexplicably attracted to him even when she thought Edward drank human blood, she is much relieved to learn that his family chooses to abstain from drinking human blood, and drink animal blood instead. Edward reveals that he initially avoided Bella because the scent of her blood was so desirable. Over time, Edward and Bella fall in love. While there is no sexual activity portrayed in the book, it really does ooze with a kind of teen sexuality. The book is, at its heart, the story of a young girl’s sexual awakening. The most explicit sexuality is found in a brief discussion between Edward and Bella where they talk about whether they desire one another in that way and whether Bella has ever been with another boy. The quiet sensuality is far more pervasive and, I would suggest, far more powerful. There is scene after scene where Edward and Bella gently stroke one another, softly and slowly running their hands over each other’s bodies, exploring, pressing their heads against each other’s chests to hear their hearts pounding, feeling electric shocks as their fingers touch flesh, twisting and cavorting with their lips on one another’s faces and necks.”
So “Christian” parents, when your child unwraps this book Christmas morning, be sure to remember that this is what you’re choosing to give to your impressionable child that you are attempting to raise up in the LORD. What is my point of including this? You are responsible – you are their covering. You are the head under Christ and you will be held accountable - know what it is you are giving your children!
This could go on for days – Wii’s that people will literally kill another person over… HD TV’s that cost thousands… gadgets to meet every gluttonish need… designer clothes... bigger! Better! More, more, more! All for what? Call me a prude. Call me over-zealous. Call me boring - I just really don’t even care anymore. I am finally becoming willing to be mocked by all, if that’s what it takes to declare the need for holiness and righteousness in this age.
So, Christian, what will you do? Are you in love with the ways of this world? Are you hot, cold or are you riding the fence of mediocrity? Do you even know, according the the Word of God? It is time for real Believers to be Ambassadors for Christ. It is time for those who profess with their mouths to know God to establsih His presence above all else via a lifestyle of holiness. I am growing more and more weary of so-called Christians living EXACTLY like the world. If you want to live as the world, then go ahead, but stop dragging Christ into it by saying you are His representative on this earth! World, you can have your temporal garbage, I’m not interested.
Presents versus Presence... who wins in your household?
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” 1 Peter 1:14-16