Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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People become like the environment they spend their time in. At least that's what I've heard. For example, if you work at IBM, you become amazingly well-organized for some strange reason. If you live in a college town, or if you work around a college, it's amazing how your vocabulary can change; sometimes increases. Oh, and your clothing? Yeah, it becomes a little bit more collegiate. You know?
I've noticed that people who live near the ocean or resort areas, they just kind of dress, you know, more loose, more casually all year long. If you move from the North to the South, you may very well find your pace slowing down to match your environment.
When I moved to the New York area, I know my driving changed. They say in New York about the roads there that there are two kinds of people, the quick and the dead, and I decided to become the quick. You become like your environment. That seems to be a pretty consistent principle; maybe too consistent.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Drawing a Line."
Now, our word for today from the Word of God comes from 2 Timothy 3; one of the more amazing chapters in the Bible. If you want to read a startling description of the last days of this planet, read 2 Timothy 3 with today's newspaper in your other hand. It's startling because of how it matches up with our headlines. It's not a catalog of what Israel or Russia or the US or earthquakes will be doing before Christ comes back. It's a description of what people will be like. In fact verse 1 says, "There will be dangerous times." And it talks about these characteristics of people that lead you to believe the reason it's going to be dangerous is because of the death of love. There won't be much love in that world.
Paul's orders to Timothy are included in this chapter, and God's orders to us. Verse 14, listen: "But as for you, you continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you have learned it. All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Now, Paul is saying if you live in a world that is racing away from God's standards, you can't afford to become like your environment even a little.
See, there's always a noticeable difference between lost people and God's people. It's kind of my equal distance theory. There's always an equal distance between the standards and lifestyles of the people of God and the people of the world.
Let's say (figuratively speaking) that the church, or the people of God, are always ten miles closer to God than the world is. The problem is that as the world moves to the left, away from God, so does the church. Now, we're still ten miles away from the marriages of the world, and from the sexual standards of the world, and their hardness, and their love of material things. But as the world moves faster and faster away from God's standards, so do we. We're still the same distance from our culture. So, in a matter of like five or ten years, we Christians are where lost people were only a few years ago, accepting what we thought we would never accept, doing what we never thought we'd do, watching, listening to. But we can feel pretty good about it, because we're better than the folks around us.
But see, the rate of speeding away from God is accelerating right now, and God says, "Hey, you continue where you are! Don't move! Stand still! Don't move any further into your culture." He's not saying detach yourself from people who need Him. No, you live in the world, but you don't live as part of it. You don't march to that drumbeat. You know, you feel like you're pretty good if you compare yourself to what the world is doing, or maybe even what most Christians are doing, and saying and accepting. But that's not the measure.
We're to measure ourselves by the God-breathed scriptures of the Lord himself. If you turn the light of God's Word on your lifestyle, maybe you'll see how far you've drifted. You just can't move any more. We've got to get back to God's standards for love, for marriage, for honesty, for family, our relationships.
Our environment is terminally polluted. We can't be like our environment. It's time to draw the line.