Friday, September 3, 2010

Devotional 030910

Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. Thank God for giving us such beautiful weather – we can experience the feeling of “winter” and “summer” in just one day. This is the beauty of living in Daly City and working in Burlingame. This kind of swing in feelings happens all the time in our lives on earth – from one minute happiness to the other minute of sadness. I thank God for this emotional capability that God designs in us. But what is the purpose behind all our experience in life? Eugene Peterson gives me some good insight in his devotion.

If all your friends were suddenly to begin talking about the state of their digestion—comparing symptoms, calling up for advice, swapping remedies—you would not consider it a hopeful sign. Nor does his widespread interest in spirituality today lead me to think that the North American soul is in a flourishing condition.

A person who has a healthy digestion does not talk about it. Neither does a person who has a healthy soul. When our bodies and souls are working well, we are, for the most part, unaware of them. The frequency with which the word spirituality occurs these days is more likely to be evidence of pathology than health.

By taking this stance, I am not dismissing current interest in spirituality as sick. The interest itself is not sick, but sickness has provoked the interest. There is considerable confusion regarding the appropriate treatment, but virtual unanimity in the diagnosis: Our culture is sick with secularism.

But deeper and stronger than our illness is our cure. The Spirit of God that hovered over the primordial chaos (Gen. 1:2) hovers over our murderous and chaotic cities. The Spirit that descended on Jesus like a dove (Matt. 3:16) descends on the followers of Jesus. The Holy spirit that filled men and women with God at nine o’clock in the morning in Jerusalem during Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4) fills men and women still in Chicago and Calcutta, Moscow and Montreal, around the clock, 365 days a year.

Our culture has failed precisely because it is a secular culture. A secular culture is a culture reduced to thing and function. Typically, at the outset, people are delighted to find themselves living in such a culture. It is wonderful to have all these things coming our way, without having to worry about their nature or purpose. And it is wonderful to have this incredible freedom to do so much, without bothering about relationships or meaning. But after a few years of this, our delight diminishes as we find ourselves lonely among the things and bored with our freedom.

Our first response is to get more of what brought us delight in the first place: acquire more things, generate more activity. Get more. Do more. After a few years of this, we are genuinely puzzled that we are not any better.

We North Americans have been doing this for well over a century now, and we have succeeded in producing a culture that is reduced to thing and function. And we all seem to be surprised that this magnificent achievement of secularism—all these things! All these activities!—has produced an epidemic of loneliness and boredom. We are surprised to find ourselves lonely behind the wheel of a BMW or bored nearly to death as we advance from one prestigious job to another.

And then, one by one, a few people begin to realize that getting more and doing more only makes the sickness worse. They realize that if it gets much worse, the culture will be dead—a thoroughly secularized culture is a corpse. The psalmist was right in his experience, “Still, when I tried to figure it out, all I got was a splitting headache…until I entered the sanctuary of God, then I saw the whole picture: The slippery road you’ve put them on, with a final crash in a ditch of delusions” (Psalm 73:16-18).

I believe there is plenty of food for thought for you this weekend. When you enjoy all the convenience of things in this culture, hope you think about the meaning and purpose behind all these. How do these things help you accomplish the purpose of your life on earth, or what God intended for you to live on earth as salt and light? Have a fruitful long weekend to rest in the Lord…

Love you in Him,

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