Saturday, October 29, 2011

Choose Weird

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 figured out? 

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