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Contemporary Christianity

   
 
Facilitating discussion among Christians on critical topics that we prefer to ignore.

Last modified Sept. 26, 2016

 
  Click here for the main page for this study
  Click here for the main page for our discussion questions
   
Q6 will be discussed in class at Fairlawn Mennonite Church, on Oct. 2
 
6)

Is there anything about “America” that makes us especially vulnerable to the lusts of the flesh?

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  Pre-class notes
This question and these thoughts are presented in the context of honest inquiry into what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our day, with the assumption that American Christians have not been effective as the preserving salt and the light of Mt. 5:13-16.
    Is there anything potentially illusory about living in a land of opportunity where, with diligence and effort one is likely to achieve a significantly higher level of comfort and wealth than most people in the world?

Opportunity is to the soul what wine is to the body, that is, potentially addictive, intoxicating, and offering a false sense of well-being. (From “www.john2031.com/books/tcb/main.html,” Part III, p13) Pages 13-18 there are on this topic.

In that context, let’s consider Deut. 6:10-15:

Note “and you eat and are satisfied” in v11.
What is the meaning of “watch yourself” in v12? What does that imply?
What does it mean to “fear God” as in v13?
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What other gods are around us?

And now let's look at Deut. 8:11-20

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Why did God prosper Israel?

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Is there anything here that is a warning to us?

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v18, where do we get the power to make wealth, and what is its purpose?

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From v20, who makes nations rise and fall? (Consider also Acts 17:26-28)

Some points to ponder:

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Why did God prosper Israel?
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Why did God prosper America? (See “God and the Nations,” pp5-6 in Part I at www.john2031.com/books/tcb/main.html) (Read/download/print as a PDF or WORD doc)

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After reading Ezekiel 36:22-23, how could God vindicate His name in response to our having forsaken Him and His purposes for us?
What are your thoughts on this?

The fact that we have “freedom of religion” in America and can gather and worship as we choose, means that it “costs” us very little to be a “Christian.” Something that comes easily to us is generally not valued as much as something that “costs” us. We then come to accept it as the norm and take it for granted - - and maybe even feel entitled to it.

Being “Christian” and being “American” have historically been much the same thing. We haven’t needed to give up very much, or express much commitment. And we haven’t needed to choose between God’s way and those of the “world” except things that are obviously evil in themselves. We have only needed to choose between good and bad as defined by our earthly/American standards.

Thus, we are empowered to indulge in the “lusts of the flesh” without feeling like we are going against God. Because of the assumptions of life in America we can easily dismiss God’s “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (I John 2:15-16, nasb)

We will have several options when things in America change such that we no longer have opportunity to have so much “stuff” and/or when it costs us something to confess Christ. Hopefully we will repent of our worldliness and “find ourselves” in Christ in new measure, but some who feel entitled to our present opportunities, or who refuse to believe that true life is in Him, will become angry at God. Some will betray those who were formerly “brother” and “sister” to them.

American Christians who are concerned about the future of our nation’s and the Church ought to consider I Peter 4:12-19, and especially note v17 there.

    How about these two questions?

Have America’s founding vision and the benefits of democracy come to define us in a way that includes an assumption of “prosperity and happiness for all?” If so, does the sober truth of James 4:4 seem to be un-American? If you think not, what about life in America could James 4:4 possibly speak of - - or is it irrelevant for us except for things like abortion and pornography, which are “below us” anyway?

What makes us think that we deserve the comfort and lifestyle that we have, which is luxurious as compared to most of the world’s population? Why else would we dedicate so many of our resouces to personal lifestyle instead of toward taking the Good News of eternal life, to the ends of the earth?

Your thoughts? Email: ken@flyinghigher.net
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