Hedonism

by David Champ, Director of Youth and Family Ministries

There is a lot of modern philosophy out there that suggests all this life is good for is your own happiness. Truth is then defined by emotions, not by Scriptural teachings. Our culture runs rampant with this idea. Obviously, this is in direct contrast to God’s way. We see examples of what Hedonism can lead to in the Garden and in the life of King David.

In Genesis 3 we read that the Serpent challenged Eve on the grounds of God’s Word. He was able to twist it and convince her that what she really wants is to be like God and put her interests ahead of serving the Lord. Both she and Adam bit the apple from the one tree they were not supposed to and inflicted humanity with a fatal disease. Because of their sin, we all received the condemnation from the Lord “from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19) So the pursuit of happiness for Adam and Eve did not result in the happiness they were looking for, but in death.

Much is the same of King David’s desire for Bathsheba. In 2 Samuel 11, we see that David witnesses Bathsheba bathing and desires her. He sends for her, sleeps with her, and ends up impregnating her. Through a course of unfortunate events, David sends Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to be killed on the front lines. Not only does Uriah die, but some innocent soldiers and eventually the child of David as well. Again, the pursuit of happiness ends in death.

If we take the example of Christ we see a different result. What is Christ seeking to do? Live a happy life? No. Instead, according to Philippians 2, He seeks the betterment of mankind. In doing so, it gets Him killed, yet it ironically ends up in life. So what we can glean from the life of Christ is that by dying to oneself, giving up what we desire, it leads to life. What Scripture teaches is that the pursuit of one’s own gain leads to death, and the pursuit of serving others leads to life. Yes, this is very counter-cultural. But it does make sense given the witness of Christ. Each of us are called in Philippians 2 to follow His example and serve others. I challenge each of you to think creatively about how to serve your family first, then your neighbors and in doing so, breathe life into them by the power of the Spirit.

Center-focused Spirituality The Seventh Core Value

by Rev. Paul Votaw

In recent months my newsletter articles have focused on the core values of our denomination. So far we have addressed the first six core values. Jesus-shaped Identity, Biblical Integrity, Thoughtful Theology, Accountable Community, Egalitarian Ministry, and Missional Centrality.

The seventh core value is Center-focused Spirituality.

In center-focused spirituality “we believe in calling people to the core of what it means to be followers of Jesus – what ‘mere Christianity’ is and does – and not fixate on the boundaries.”

I must admit that I am struggling a bit with how to approach this core value. My understanding is that the last six words (and not fixate on the boundaries) mean that we are not to be “the truth police,” going around being sure everyone is staying on the straight and narrow. Yet, ECO came into being in large part because the truth, the straight and narrow, was being compromised. So we cannot disregard the need for biblical truth and upholding that truth.

At the same time when being “truth detectors” takes so much of our attention and effort that we ignore the call to service, compassion, and sharing the good news we fail to live out the very truth we seek to protect.

Given the above, center-focused spirituality is living the truth of God’s word so that his truth comes alive within us.

For example:

  • Rather than making sure everyone else is following the rules, I focus on applying God’s word to my life.
  • Rather than getting up in arms because there are so many poor people, I do all I can to help the poor.
  • Rather than condemning people who are caught up in sin, I find ways to love people and help them find ways out of their bondage.
  • Rather than simply talking about theological concepts, I translate those and apply them to everyday life.

Center-focused spirituality has to do with discipleship, being a student of the Master, learning from him, and living in his way. What does center-focused spirituality mean for you?

It has been helpful to me to think through this core value. I hope it has been helpful for you as well.

paulsig