Yesterday we looked at busy-ness as a reason people don’t accept Christ. As promised, today we’ll take a quick look at skepticism. Whereas yesterday I said yesterday it seems we are becoming increasingly busy all the time, skepticism has been around for thousands of years.
The definition of skepticism is “an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.” (I find it interesting that dictionary.com defines skepticism specifically in terms of religion, singling out Christianity: “doubt or unbelief with regard to a religion, especially Christianity.”) The first school founded upon skepticism started in ancient Greece around 5th century B.C. The school of thought essentially taught that truth is very hard (nearly impossible) to ascertain. Truth was “an idea which did not yet exist in a pure form.” The skeptics of today can find their roots in a school of thought first founded 500 years before the birth of Christ.
In the play at church Sunday night, one of the characters refused to accept a Christmas gift because he did not believe it was real. He was skeptical. For him it was that the deal was too good to be true. However, when it comes to Christ that is usually not the form that skepticism takes.
Many people today do not believe in Christ because they are skeptical. Some skepticism is based upon pride. Some do not believe because they want to rebel against authority. They take the attitude of “I’m not going to believe it just because you say it, or because it is written in some book. I have to see it.” Some try to “justify” their skepticism. We have all been disappointed by someone who does not keep their word. They break a promise, or don’t fulfill an obligation. We become wary about trusting the person again. Along the same lines, a skeptic might say “The Bible says Christ will return, but he has not yet returned. Maybe He isn’t coming back. Maybe He’s not real.” Both forms of skepticism are wrong. The first is rooted in the sinful pride of the skeptic; the second makes the mistake of seeing God on the same level as sinful mankind. Yet, both forms of skepticism cause the skeptic to reject the gift of Christ.
While on this earth, Jesus dealt with people who were skeptical. In John 3 we see a religious leader, Nicodemus, come to talk with Christ. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. Nicodemus responds skeptically with “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:3-4) Jesus then addresses the central ailment all skeptics have, a lack of faith. Jesus explains to Nicodemus that he is not having problems with the facts. No, Nicodemus is having problems with faith. Seven times in this discussion with Nicodemus, Christ uses a form of the word “believe.” You see, the issue with the skeptic is an issue of the heart, as it is will all of us. At some point in our lives, we all suffer from a lack of faith; what the Bible calls a “heart of unbelief.” Those of us who are saved have overcome our skepticism and have taken the step of faith to believe in Christ. This is the same step Jesus is urging Nicodemus to make in John 3. We must pray the same would happen for the skeptics we know. As Nicodemus shows us, a skeptic is not moved by logic or fact. (“How can a man be born when he is old?”) The root issue must be addressed, the issue of the heart.
Yesterday morning we had our annual children's Christmas program at our home church. My wife and I have been in charge of the program since we came on staff in 2005. I was encouraged as I listened to our church kids sing about the birth of our Lord, reminding us of the true reason for Christmas. Then last night we had our church Christmas play called, "Christmas on the Air." As I watched the play, my heart was convicted as we came to realize the reasons people don't accept the gift of our Savior: busy-ness and skepticism.
As I'm sure nearly all of us understand, our lives have gotten entirely too busy. We run around constantly to satisfy all the things of this life that make demands on our time, and so often don't take time for the little things. Doctors' appointments, meetings, our kids’ sports practices, all these things consume our time and make us all the more busy. In the end, what do we have to show for it? Also, technology is great, but it has drastically increased the speed at which we operate and has created many more demands on our time. When I was growing us we had or small-town newspaper delivered to our home every evening. Now, we have access to thousands of newspapers online every day. If you're a news junkie like me, that doesn't mean you to have take the time to read them all! I have had to remind myself many times over the last few days, "step back from the computer, enough news, spend time with your family.” Also think about this, not so long ago if you wanted to write to someone, you had to sit down, write a letter by hand, and send it by "snail mail." Now you sit down and just jot out a quick note by email. That, in itself, is not bad. The downside is that your Aunt Millie sits down at her computer and forwards you 25 emails of dogs barking Christmas carols, the dumbest church signs of 2009, and miscellaneous chain letters. Just because they are in your inbox doesn't mean you have to read them, but we feel bad if we don't. We have just made ourselves busier by putting yet another demand on our time. (This doesn't even begin to take into account other things like Twitter, Facebook, and online games.)
As you can see, it is so easy to become too busy. The sad part is that, as a result, people are just too busy to sit down and consider their eternity and what the Lord has done for them. They think they can keep putting the decision off because they have all of these other “demands” on their time. But we all know that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1). Our life is but a vapor, here only for a little while (James 4:14). We must make time for the truly important decision of life, or we will be eternally regretful. For those of us who have accepted Christ as our Saviour, let us have compassion upon those who are so busy that they let a decision of eternal significance pass them by. Pray for them, witness to them, and plead with them.
Furthermore, let us all resolve to make an attempt to not be so busy that the important things of this world pass us by. Sometimes we have to cast off the things that make demands on our time, and get back to that which is important: spending time with the Lord, and spending time with our loved ones.
Tomorrow we’ll look at skepticism.
We departed Southern California last Sunday morning to begin our trek to Chattanooga for candidate school at BIMI Headquarters. After a long day of flights and driving, we arrived late Sunday evening and got settled for meetings that were to start early Monday morning.
Everything got started promptly on Monday morning at 7:30. There were twenty-four candidates at school this winter, eleven couples and two singles. After a devotion from our candidate director we took a doctrines test. We both passed it and then went into sessions covering how to handle deputation. After lunch we began the interview process. We met with the European field director, two other field directors, and a local pastor. We gave our salvation testimonies, our call to the field, and answered questions they had regarding our ministry, family habits, and plans for the field. This first committee approved us to go before the board of directors in the evening. After dinner the board meeting began and we were called before the board to again give our testimonies and answer questions about our field. We were approved by the vote of the board and Dr. James Ray challenged us all to be faithful and steadfast in our calling. What a relief and joy it was to be approved and know we are now officially on our way to the field.
On Tuesday we had more classes regarding deputation, putting together presentations, and handling our finances. Wednesday morning we got up and began our travels home.
We had a great time at candidate school. We met some new friends, got to know the people who work at BIMI, met some veteran missionaries, and were approved by the board to go forth to our field. It is a blessing to know that we have people in our home church, our families, and at the mission board who have a desire to help us succeed and beseech God on our behalf. As we look forward to the change in our ministry that is quickly approaching, we do it both with some apprehension, but also with the resolve that this is what God has called us and prepared us to do. We look forward to following God's will and being obedient to Him. We appreciate your continued prayers.
In just a few days, we'll be flying out to Baptist International Missions, Inc to go to their mini candidate school. Normally the school is in June, but they do a mini-session in December for those God has called and who do not want to wait another six months to apply. We fly out on Sunday and land in Birmingham, AL. There we'll rent a car and drive to Chattanooga. Monday morning we take a doctrines exam. Monday afternoon we'll meet with the European field director and a couple others for an interview. They will recommend to the board of directors whether to approve us as missionaries or not. Monday evening we will go before the board of directors for an interview and final approval. If we are approved, we will have deputation classes on Tuesday and return home on Wednesday. We'll then attend another weeklong school in June. Pray for us as we take the tests and go through the interviews on Monday. Also, we will not be able to take Samuel with us; he will stay at home with our extended family. We've never been away from him for this long. Pray for Elisabeth. :)
James has been ill with an allergic reaction to something, possibly a medication he had been prescribed last week. Benadryl didn't work, but it's finally looking a little better thanks to two visits to the doctor and two prescription anti-histamines. Pray for James as well.
Lastly, we praise the Lord that we've been able to book another meeting for March. We have quite a few meetings booked for the summer and fall 2010, but not for the first half of the year. Pray for us that we'll be able to book meetings for first half of 2010.
We are a family on our way to the mission field of the United Kingdom. Ryan, Elisabeth, Samuel, and James
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