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Living Like Pagans

As I look around the church, and look at my own temptations and failures, I see a church steeped in paganism. I am not talking here about uncultured paganism: tattoos, piercings, outlandish hair and dress, music steeped in rebellion and sensuality, etc. I am talking about cultured paganism — the modern equivalent of ancient Greece and Rome — which is living more for the pleasures of recreation and entertainment than for the things of God, living the dream rather than losing your life, and feeding more on the world’s success-motivation message than the Word of God.

Let me pick on the success-motivation message for a case in point. I grant that much of this message is true as far as it goes. It belongs to the wisdom that cries aloud in the streets. The problem doesn’t lie so much with the principles as with the sphere of application. The believer should be far more serious about applying success-motivation principles to the pursuit of eternal gain than he is to earthly gain. When the believer zealously applies these principles to his temporal matters while he idles his way through his christianity, giving it little more than church attendance and a brief daily devotional, he is deep-dyeing his heart with clean paganism. This is a practical denial of taking up one’s cross and following Jesus, and it is the fast lane for wood, hay, and stubble at the judgment seat of Christ.

Sadly, this manner of Christianity is the rule, not the exception, for much of the church today. Many professing Christians are just clean-living pagans wearing a Jesus t-shirt. Like the Laodiceans they think they are spiritually rich, wealthy, and in need of nothing. But in reality, they are spiritually poor, blind, and naked, living in spiritual poverty and squalor.

So what is the solution? Faith! We need the same kind of faith that Moses had. Faith that steps forth in obedience, pursuing the promises of God rather than the opportunities of the world. Consider Moses’ faith as outlined in Hebrews 11:24-27. By faith Moses passed up a fantastic opportunity in the world, deliberately chose a path which gave him affliction rather than pleasure, valued the reproach of following Christ in the wilderness more than the wealth in Egypt that was his for the taking, fixed the eyes of his heart on eternal gain rather than temporal gain, forsook Egypt (a type of the world), and regarded the wrath of the visible government as no big deal because he had his eyes fixed on the invisible governor in heaven.

For those who like to couch the walk of faith in the language of success-motivation, set aside your worldly dream with temporal gain and seek God for a spiritual dream with eternal gain. Once you have fastened upon a spiritual dream, then determine that you will exercise the same kind of determination, discipline, and sacrifice in pursuit of this dream that the world exercises in pursuit of its dreams.

You can’t lose if you trust God in this matter. You can’t win if you don’t.

“Eyes wide open, brain engaged, heart on fire.”

Lee W. Brainard

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