“The great danger…lies precisely in his constant contact with divine things.” ~ Benjamin B. Warfield (1911)
When asked, “Give me a few things that when you first saw them, you were in awe?” A very common answer that comes up time and time again, the Grand Canyon. What is it about this monstrosity of a hole in the ground that causes us to pause and find wonderment in God’s creation?! Is it just that it’s a massive hole in the ground, and that causes us to pause just for a second, and then we’re over it. Is it the sheer size, covering 1.2 million acres? Is it that it was once inhabited by various Native American tribes, whose presence can still be seen and explored? It’s an amazing site to see. Granted, I have not yet taken my own children to see the Grand Canyon, but I can only imagine their reaction. There would most likely be about 5 minutes of interest, followed by “Can we go now?” I vaguely remember the same feeling when I was there as a kid. But now as an adult, I’m finding beauty in a lot of things I probably took for granted as a kid. Here’s just one example of what I’ve captured recently through the lens of my iPhone.
Author Paul David Tripp answers Benjamin Warfield’s “great danger” idea in his book Dangerous Calling:
“What is the danger? It is that familiarity with the things of God will cause you to lose your awe. You’ve spent so much time in Scripture that its grand redemptive narrative, with its expansive wisdom, doesn’t excite you anymore.”
Having spent the majority of my life in Christian education, and 14 of those years as an educator, I came to the conclusion that the majority of students growing up in the Christian school system have been saturated by the gospel. This in theory is not a bad thing. It can be a very protective environment. Trust me, I grew up in it. I love and value Christian education, both as a student and as an educator. But there in lies a problem. Without proper instruction and discipleship, these youth can grow tired and weary of hearing the same thing, over and over again. George R. Knight, in his book Philosophy and Education said it this way:
A cooperative stance is important between the Christian teacher in the school and Christian teachers in the home and church, because Christian education is more than Christian schooling. The home, church, and school are working with the most valuable objects on earth, God’s children, and each is ideally founded upon the same principles…The purpose and goal of Christian education are the restoration of he image of God in each student and the reconciliation of students with God, their fellow students, their own selves, and the natural world.
So I took a little liberty and adjusted Paul Tripp’s explanation of the “great danger” and applied it to students growing up in the Christian school system (bold words are mine).
You’ve spent so much time in bible class and chapel that you can stand at the foot of the cross with little weeping and scant rejoicing. You’ve spent so much time at youth group and retreats that you are no longer amazed at the reality of having been chosen to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. You’ve spent so much time going to church, reading your bible, and having devotions that you’ve forgotten that its end game is personal holiness. You’ve spent so much time fulfilling community service hours and going on mission trips that you’ve lost your wonder at the sovereign Planner that guides your every moment. You’ve spent so much time meditating on your teacher’s biblical integration strategies in math class that you have very little private awe anymore. It’s all become so regular and normal that it fails to move you; in fact, there are sad moments when the wonder of grace can barely get your attention in the midst of your busy academic, athletic, fine art, and social media schedule.
Please understand that I am one of the biggest proponents for a Christian education. I attended Christian school from Kindergarten through my Masters program at the University level. That education has helped shape me in to the person I am today. So here is what I am getting at. As a Christian, either in or out of the religious perspective, what it is going to take to get you to experience all that Jesus has for you, right here, right now? How are we to regain our awe and sense of wonderment at the majesty of Jesus Christ? The Lord placed a few things on my heart that I want to share with you. Decide and challenge yourself to see if these are things that you can do to help you regain your fervor.
1. Stop being ambivalent!
There is no uncertainty in Jesus. The God of the universe created YOU! There is purpose in everything He does. You are not a mistake.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,..” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? [italics mine]…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)
2. Stop believing the lies!
Beauty, fashion, money, popularity, possessions…They’re all gimmicks to get you to be just like everyone else. We were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)! We were created for holiness. We were created for worship. We were created with distinct purpose and value. Falling in to the world’s definition of what you are to look like, talk like, or dress like are lies and do not define who you are. Too many find value in the reaction they get from others based upon their clothes or their selfies. We need to stop believing the lies that the number of likes, followers, and shares we get determines our value.
“…godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:8-10)
“Do not love the world or 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 desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:16)
3. Stop playing the game!
We need to stop calling our self a Christian while trying to keep one foot in the world. We need to stop trying to adhere to the latest cultural trends while saying we’re sold out for Jesus.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4)
“So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:16)
You know who you are in Christ! You know who you OUGHT to be! We are told very clearly who we are. If we are made in the image of God, we therefore ought to walk in the same manner as Jesus. He was obedient to His Heavenly Father and He served in love, humility, and sacrifice.
“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:4-6)
“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9)
We have a purpose. We have a goal. It is now time to strip off the old man and cloak ourselves in the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:20-24). It’s time to ditch the garbage that we were once buried in, and live in the fullness of who Christ wants you to be (Colossians 3:5-10)! In so doing, you will be free and unfettered to live in the majesty of Jesus Christ! You will see as Christ sees and have a heart that yearns like His.
“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.” (Psalm 145:5-7)
Rak Chazak and may the Lord bless you!