Monday, February 13, 2012

How then shall we live?

At First Pres of Evanston this is an important question and not just an academic question that philosophical types debate in university halls. This question gets to the heart of what it means for God's people to be a counter-cultural community seeking to live the gospel's demands. 

Lent at First Pres, Evanston, IL
Ash Wednesday and Lent begins in a few short days and a group of men and women within the fellowship of First Presbyterian of Evanston, IL, are working tirelessly to prepare our congregation to walk through the forty days with our eyes fixed on Christ.

Ash Wednesday services begin on Feb 22 with Taize worship and Communion every Wednesday at 7:30pm.  Furthermore, new small groups are in place to study Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Leaders are trained and folks are registering to study Scripture together. 

Lent is a time of self-examination; taking stock of our lives and remembering the set number of our days. We are finite, God is infinite; we are mortal, God is immortal; we are prone to sin and idol making, only God is holy and only God is worthy of worship. Lent is a time to re-calibrate one’s life toward heaven and to listen as God speaks through Scripture.

Scripture vs. culture
February 26 and March 4 brings us face to face with a set of challenging issues facing the Corinthian church: how they used their bodies in intimate ways, and how they failed to hold each other accountable for those intimate practices. These themes are tough. Just like the Corinthian culture, we are living in a very open and sexually expressive society. 

How do we live our lives in ways that reflect the priorities of Christ’s kingdom? How do we express purity and holiness in a world that celebrates impurity? Why are God’s people called to be different from the culture?
What we must not do is deny the holistic way God sees our lives. We are physical and spiritual beings. Every good and perfect gift that comes to us from God has being tainted and distorted by sin. Sexual intimacy is one of God’s good and perfect gifts that bear the marks of sin's distortion. 

Scripture's road map
Scripture is the guide, the measurement and means to help us discern how to live our physical and spiritual lives to the glory of God. Scripture helps us reclaim all the good gifts of God, including sexual intimacy.

Paul said, do not allow the world to squeeze you into its mold; instead be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Ro 12: 1-2). God promises a new heart and new mind and it is through hearing and doing God’s word that Christ is formed within the church. So we dare not minimize God’s word. God told Hosea, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).”

Many lives are being destroyed daily because of lack of knowledge of God’s truth, or an outright rejection of God’s truth. At First Pres. Evanston, we are committed to loving God, serving people through the gospel so that their lives are transformed through Christ. And the principal way God does this is by taking away our hearts of stone and giving us tender hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). This change of heart opens up new possibilities for transformation, obedience and faith in Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 6:11).

Increasingly, the challenge before us is how shall we live? Will we live under the authority of Scripture, or will we live according to what seems right in our eyes (Judges 17:6)?