by Andrew Cromwell
One of the constant themes of Scripture is
that the people of God - those who have made Him the centerpiece of their lives
- are to be different. In the Old Testament the term "set apart" is
used. In the New Testament the people of God are referred to as
"chosen". Whatever term is used, it is clear that God desires His
people to be different from the rest of the world.
Over the course of history, groups have
interpreted the meaning of "being set apart" differently. Some have
decided that the right response is to withdraw completely from the world and
create a community unto themselves. We can think of the Amish in Pennsylvania
as a perfect example of this. This group has decided to shun electricity and
modern conveniences. Other groups have removed themselves from society
altogether, closing themselves up behind castle walls and taking extensive vows
of silence or personal mortification.
But I believe that when God tells His people
that they are to be different than the world around them, He is speaking about
their value system and how it is expressed in their daily lives. While there
may be times for the people of God to literally remove themselves from
relationship with society, these occasions are rare. Much more common is the
decision to live one's life in a way that is countercultural.
It is in our heart where we decide whether or
not we are going to be obedient to our Father God. The choice for obedience
will mean that the way our lives are led is markedly different from the lives
of those around us.
There are many value systems of the people of
God that are different from the ways of the world. But one that touches very
close to home is the way that God's people treat their money.
Our world is all about money. It is
continually obsessed with getting more. No matter how much you have, how much
you “need” is always a greater number. We fill our garages with toys, we buy
larger houses and we find extravagant ways to spend money. What's more, we
spend money that we have not yet earned.
One of the great curses of our contemporary
world is the easy extension of personal credit. Because of personal credit
lines almost all of us live beyond our means. It is impossible to quantify the
number of divorces and the amount of unhappiness that has been caused by the
easy extension of credit and the ensuing spending sprees that have caused
people to spin out of financial control.
The people of God, however, are supposed to
live differently. They live on less than they earn. They are not obsessed
with getting more and more things. They believe that giving is better than
receiving. They feel a responsibility for their brothers and sisters of the
world who have less than they do. All of these things run in contradiction to
our standard cultural value systems.
People who have discovered that true joy does
not come from the acquisition of possessions are truly strange. The world looks
at them and cannot understand why they have a smile on their face. They cannot
understand why there is peace in their home. And yet when the dust settles and
the noise from the toys dies out, the world begins to realize that their mad
rush for more things does not fill the void in their heart. It is at this
moment, that the people of God begin to look awfully weird.
This weekend the pastors in Kings County
would love to help you be countercultural! Who says that the world has it all