Sunday, November 26, 2006

Babelling out from the centre of the world

New word,

to Babel: verb, meaning to build up one's own Empire and seek self-actualization. To grasp at whatever is necessary to make a name for oneself.

Is it possible to Babel about ministry? I think so. It's so subtle and insidious. Imagine making plans to build up the kingdom of God, to do this and that for God, go here and there for God, while all along God is no where to be found in the whole equation. How difficult that must be to catch.

Perhaps I see that in myself and my zeal to be a missionary. "Missions, the final frontier. These are the voyages of Dennis Oh. His continuing mission to seek out new tribes and languages ... to boldy go where no one has gone before!!"

I am such a nerd.

Am I doing nothing more than grasping at means to become significant in my own eyes and the eyes of others? Am I truly driven by love for God? and how could I know for sure, if the heart is truly deceptive and wicked above all things? The only upshot is that the Apostle Paul is not too concerned with our inferior motives when it comes to preaching the gospel; to him the mission is more important than our lousy reasons for getting there.

but I think I'm entitled to ask, nonetheless.

See, it's all too easy to love the world or the things of the world. It's easy for ministry and missions to fall into that nasty 3rd category: the pride of life. Ministry can become our identity, our price tag that determines our market value in the world. It can become our source of security, status or income.

But where's God? We've displaced Him with the very things of His own kingdom, like worshipping the creation and not the Creator. That's a scary thought.

May Christ Himself be my life mission, the goal, the very point of existence. He's not the thing we settle for or the means to an end. He is the end, just as He was the beginning.

O Christ,
Be the Centre of our lives
Be the place we fix our eyes
Be the Centre of our lives

Friday, November 17, 2006

Theology: the toy everyone has

Theology is ubiquitous. Everyone has one whether they like it or not. It's funny that theology is so often relegated to some anti-spiritual, academic exercise. But even the super-spiritual have a dogma that they will defend with everything they have, just like the scholastics. They may even be more dogmatic than scholars are on certain issues.

What exactly is theology of the academic variety? Well, chiefly, it is a theology rooted in the Bible, such that undocumented and unscriptural phenomena are considered secondary data. Academians also spent inordinate amounts of time and effort hearing one another's views and attempt to trace the development of doctrine down the centuries; they evaluate it in light of the available Biblical data. Seems responsible so far.

Theology of the super-spiritual kind? Well, seems like it's based on one's own experiences, intuitions, feelings. That doesn't mean that it's wrong, just not as objective. There's no need to confirm it with through others or read what others say about it - I experienced it, and that's all that matters. If God revealed it directly, who is anyone to scrutinize it? History? no need, God is doing a "new thing". Here's the rub: when experiential theology drifts off the path, how does it get back one? How does one even know that it got off to begin with.

The beauty of academic theology is that it is always done in community. Sure, theological debates are often heated and pointless and seem like anything but community-oriented. But such feedback from the theological community and saints through the ages is invaluable in preserving sound doctrine. But when 'theologians' come by claiming, "God is doing something new!" or "God directly revealed such and such to me .." what are we to say in response to that. This kind of theology operates within its own subjective framework and everyone goes with the flow until there's a desire to return to the Word. It's a vicious cycle.

I'm not against charismatics, I wish the church was more 'charismatic' in many ways. I just don't see the propriety of dismissing academic theology in favour of an experiential one; or viewing it as somehow unspiritual.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Anatomy of Lust

What is lust and why is it sin?

Technically lust is defined as an intense desire for something or someone. How is one to measure the degree of desire and at what point does a desire become intense enough to be labelled sin?

First, desires require an object. It is impossible to desire nothingness. This is the basic inconsistency with Buddhism in its purest sense. Desires will always exist and they are fixed upon an object. Whether it is a woman, a car, a job, a status or a Tag Heuer watch, people desire objects. That object must be a specific person or thing, whether they are before your eyes, or on the pages of a magazine. One of the Ten Commandments is "You shall not covet your neighbours' house, wife, possessions ..." Inherit in this covetousness is desire for something.

Second, God commands "do not love the world or anything in the world" (1 John). What did he mean? Shall we not love our families, puppies, Christmas dinners and the budding flowers in spring. Answer: No, we shouldn't. Not if the love of these things are an end in themselves. Any love and desire for anything that does not ultimately leads us to a love and desire for the glory of God is sin. Sin is when we exchange the glory of God for ANYTHING else - however warm and fuzzy it might be.

Third, the lusting after a person occurs when your desire is turned towards yourself. If you are attracted to someone or something, praise God - you're normal. When you appreciate physical beauty or charming characteristics, praise God - He's a creative and wonderful God. But as soon as desire does not translate to love for God or the others, the only person left to receive the benefits is yourself. We are commanded, "Love the Lord and love one another." The sin of Adam and Eve was a sin of lust: a lust for nourshment, independence and power. Everyone who ever committed the sin of lust thought of how they might take and use that object for their own personal gain.

Fourth, lust is adultery. In the sexual sense, the lust that is conceived in the mind of man is fully evident before the eyes of God. You think it, you did it. Spiritually, lust is adultery of the idolatrous kind. Adultery is unfaithfulness and a prostituting of oneself to someone to whom you are not joined. Lust diminishes the supremacy of God, casting Him momentarily aside.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

simple impetus

As I grow older and wiser, I want my life to become simpler and more straight forward.
When I think of my impetus for wanting to go overseas for missionary work, there's a simple thing I have in mind.

What is the thing that drives me to the nations? The glory of Jesus Christ. I live for that day when people from every tribe and nation fall before the Lamb in worship. Those who do not worship will, at least, be forced to confess the Lordship of Christ.

Until then, there is one thing as our responsibility: preaching the gospel to the farthest ends of the earth. Let us get one thing certain: there is absolutely no possibility of salvation outside faith in Jesus Christ, and there is absolutely no way for people to believe except by the preaching of the gospel, and there is absolutely no way to preach unless you, or I, or better yet both of us, go.