From our Director of Missions
Much of my thinking and teaching involves a spectrum. Countless are the times I have drawn a line on a marker board and written opposing terms at the respective ends. (Imagine simple contrasts like short/long; fast/slow; safe/dangerous)
X < ________________________________ > Y
One disturbing spectrum is when the poles are: virtue/vice; good/evil; or capacity to serve God/capacity to sin against Him.
It is disturbing because I sense the spectrum is widening. Each technological advance seems to expand our ability to engage in ministry or engage in sin. In olden times (i.e., pre-smartphones) the farther away someone lived, the more expensive the call, and I could only hear their voice. Now with fiber optics, calling someone anywhere in the world is inexpensive (‘free’ if I use Skype or Google Hangout). Now I can not only hear them, I can see them. Concepts of distance and intimacy are being totally restructured. In the near future I anticipate further advances in virtual and augmented reality will expand those sensory connections from sound and sight to touch, smell, and even taste. My ability to enter the world of another locale, another situation, and the sphere of another life is rapidly growing. Which direction on that spectrum I head, whether to share the truth of God’s Word or share in a destructive activity is my choice, and I can go farther down my chosen trajectory than ever before.
Some of Paul’s last instructions to his younger protégé Timothy were to “flee from youthful lusts (passions, ESV) and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Tim. 2.22, NASB). Earlier he told Timothy “the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1.5) Life is a dynamic enterprise, not a static pose; life is not a painting but a video. It moves in one direction or the other, honoring the Father or dishonoring Him.
Assigning some imaginary line of demarcation on that spectrum is arbitrary and foolish. I cannot count the times a young person has asked me when discussing dating or relating to the sexes, “where is the line, how far it too far, when does it become wrong to . . .?” Unfortunately many a believer never outgrows this adolescent attitude, and as an adult is more concerned with how close they can dangle themselves over a precipice without falling rather than their lives actively tracking toward Christ (Philippians 3.10-21). If you have lost your bearings on how far down one direction or another you have wandered, the above admonition says to pursue God “with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” This is why we all need other members of a covenant community of faith (a local church) to help us see where we are on the spectrum. This is where accountability comes to bear, and why the “one another's” are in Scripture.
In the management of time, leisure, technology, possessions, and resources, I need to engage in spectrum thinking and have the vulnerability to ask others to affirm that I am/am not headed in the right direction. Worshipping and ministering alongside other believers are sure first steps. Seek first the Kingdom of God----it's not about degree of devotion but direction. Take that step, and choose well the companions along the way.