The Odyssey (Part 8)

The Conversation
by Rayola Kelley

      Have you ever taken the time to consider what makes Christianity so unique and different? The odyssey we take as Christians should lead us to discover and live the Christian life that will reveal that it not only holds the solution to the challenges facing each of us, but that it allows us to experience the excellence of its abiding ways.

      As Christians, we often bounce along without taking time to consider what it really means to be a Christian. Just how powerful is the Christian life? We can declare all of heaven is behind it, but how will it translate in our everyday life? Let’s face it, as believers we advocate much, but do we believe it enough that we walk it out; do we believe it enough that we live it? Or, is it just something we tack on when we go to church on Sunday or to Bible Study? Is it a religious robe we wear to appear pious or do we really walk according to the righteous ways as presented in the Bible?

      I know one of the concerns that many Christians have concerns the youth. I don’t know about you, but I fear for our youth. Many of us fear we are losing our youth to the deceptive and destructive ways of the age we live in. The late David Wilkerson even admitted that some of his grandchildren appeared indifferent to Christianity. In essence, he was saying that they appear to have no heart towards Christianity.

      Recently, someone told me we need to have a different discussion with our youth about what really ails them in this world. As I questioned this individual as to the different discussions we were to have, he implied that we have to throw out the discussion that has been taking place for at least 20 centuries, a discussion that actually leads back to the Garden of Eden. He implied that the Bible has become obsolete in its ability to address the real problems that beset our youth.

      Needless to say, we found ourselves at odds. The Bible is not obsolete. However, as I considered the individual that I was having the discussion with, I could not help but think that the reason the youth are somewhat lost is because it appears that the adults, such as this individual, do not know where they have come from and where they are going. Regardless of how much such individuals look to the methods and intelligence of the world, such intelligence is either proven to be ineffective, ever changing, or a complete flop.

      Clearly, we cannot address a problem unless we understand what it is. We cannot change something unless we are willing to face the real crux of the problem with the intent of becoming part of the solution. To be the solution, we must step outside of the problem and implement the answer. As I listened to this individual run the gamut of his intellectual logic, it was obvious he was abounding in his own philosophies and with his own take on matters, but he lacked a very important element—he could not abide by any real solution.  Even though he declared that he was a “Christian of sorts”, it was obvious he did not consider Christ as the solution to the problems that ails our youth. After all, how can you believe Christ is a solution when you regard His Word as being obsolete?

      There are different ways in which people approach a problem. There are people who want a conversation about the dilemma, but in the end all that is accomplished is talk. The reason these people fail to get anything accomplished is because there is no real consensus as to what the solution is. Without knowing the answer people end up with many varying angles and opinions as to what is wrong in order to come to terms with the antidote, but no one can really agree on what to do because there is no real point of focus as to the resolution. It is important to point out that if one knows the answer, then the solution will often dictate how a problem must be confronted.

      The second way people approach the problem is they come to the table with what they think the solution might be and are seeking confirmation and insight in how to handle it. This conversation entails how to implement the solution in order to solve the problem. A couple of problems can arise. First, not everyone who joins the conversation may agree with the solution. This can easily end in disagreement.  If there is agreement as to the solution, conflict may arise as to how to effectively implement it.

      The third way people approach the problem is that those who come together recognize the problem, understand the solution, and have the wisdom to implement it in light of reaching the ultimate end. The main reason these people come together is to ensure the integrity of the implementation of the solution. Such individuals walk in confidence because they operate according to absolutes.

      For Christians the absolutes are found in the Bible. The problem has been defined, the solution has been made clear, and the implementation of it has been outlined. The real issue is ensuring that the problem is addressed in a right attitude, the solution is lifted up in the right spirit, and the implementation of all matters is done in light of truth according to the measure of faith allotted by God.

      This brings us to the conversation we should be having as Christians. Regardless of what this man stated about having to change the conversation in order to reach our young people, he failed to realize his take on it is part of the problem. The issue is not that the Bible is obsolete; therefore, the conversation has to change; rather, the problems for our youth are escalating because man continues to become more lost in his false presentations of the world and blinded by the godless intelligence produced by the secular, anti-God, humanistic, New Age, communistic philosophies of this age. Colossians 2:8 makes mention of this very fact, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”  The philosophies of this world will spoil a person because they are shrouded in vain, useless lies that deceive because they find their source in man’s stifling and blind traditions, as well as from the false foundations of the world.

       The one aspect that the man and I agreed on was that the problems that confront our youth find their origin in the Garden of Eden. However, variance arose between us because his take on the source of the problem was different than my understanding of it. His conclusion as to the problem our youth are confronted with is that shame was put on man in the garden; therefore, they had to cover themselves with fig leaves. In his mind these fig leaves represent all the ridiculous standards we put on our young people, preventing them from ever finding out who they are. He mentioned such standards as the Ten Commandments, etc. To me the problems our youth are confronted with is nothing more than buying the same lies as Eve succumbed to in the garden (Genesis 3:1-6).

      The lies in the garden usually present themselves in the same pattern. The first lie begins with, “Does God really mean what He says?” The debates as to whether God said something, or whether He meant what He said is always the big “IF” people throw in the equation when discussing the credibility of God’s Word. When we get into the debate of the imagined “IF’s” in regard to the validity of God’s Word, we will always digress into a state of unbelief.

      Even though this particular man believes there is a God, he does not believe the Word of God is absolute or capable of meeting the present problems in spite of what it says about itself (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Regardless of his logic about this matter, it is obvious that he has bought the same lies as Eve. He questions the absolutes and validity of the Bible; therefore, he logics out that he does not have to take the Word seriously enough to believe it.

       As Christians, how many of us really believe the Bible? We can declare God said it, but if we do not believe it is true, we will never live it. Perhaps some of the problem with our youth is that there is much conversation about religion, but they do not see it being lived out in everyday life. They hear much preaching, but they see hypocrisy behind closed doors when there is no religious limelight present.

      The first lie produces unbelief towards God, while the second lie will always produce a false hope. The serpent told Eve that there would be no repercussions for her disobedient actions: that she would not die. Sadly, most people prefer to believe a lie rather than the truth. The reason for this is because the lie can serve their purpose. For this reason the Bible is clear that we must love the truth if we are going to prefer it over the false presentation of the world, the arrogant logic of our pride, and base ways of the flesh (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12). The lie exalted the deadly fruit in such a way that Eve began to lust after the fruit; therefore, the lie justified her eating of it.

      The man that I debated with apparently has fallen for the second lie as Eve did. This man gave me the impression that one did not have to get the matters of truth and eternity right. However, before a matter can be solved in any arena, the right way of handling it must be clearly understood, then implemented. Ultimately, the man was implying that there is no real clear way to salvation and no real consequences to fear if one is wrong about such matters.

      As this man talked about how he perceived the whole matter of the Garden of Eden, he reminded me of 2 Kings 17. The Assyrians came into the land of Israel and took the Hebrews captive and disbursed them through the empire. In turn, the Assyrians brought other people from other cultures to settle the land of Israel, which included the capital, Samaria. These individuals brought their idols with them and set up their pagan altars. Even though the children of Israel polluted the land with idolatry, they paid dearly for it by being subdued and taken captive by their enemy; but, Jehovah was not about to take idolatry lightly from those who were now settling the land. The Lord sent lions among these people and some were slain. Needless to say, this brought fear upon the people so they asked the king of Assyria to send a Jewish priest to them to teach them the ways of Jehovah. A Jewish priest was sent. The problem is that the people figured they could have it both ways. They could keep Jehovah God off their back by instituting the correct ways of worshipping Him while maintaining their idolatrous, pagan beliefs. In other words, they ended up with a hodgepodge of beliefs and practices. We read this in 2 Kings 17:41, “So these nations feared the LORD, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day.”

      At least these pagans in this incident began to fear the Lord, but for many in this present world, they have no fear, no respect, and no semblance of decency to appeal to or reason with. When there are no absolutes, justice will be absent. Without justice, there will be no fear of consequences. Without consequences, rights or wrongs become a matter of personal opinions or preference. Since there is no real standard of right and wrong, chaos will ensue, lawlessness will be the order of the day, and fear will be the byproduct.

      The man whom I was contending with appeared to be entangled with the same lies as Eve and had a hodgepodge of beliefs. They came from various sources, including the world and heretical teachings. They were clearly distinguished by the fact that this man had no real fear of being wrong in his conclusions. He had no desire to be challenged and had no real concern about the consequences that would ensue if he was found to be on the wrong side of the fence. He would not allow such a thought or challenge to disrupt him in his fragile reality.

      Fear will always be a part of the equation; however, we must discern what fear is motivating each of us. We will either fear the absurdity of lawlessness that ends in destruction, or we will fear the consequences of justice. Those who do not fear the consequences of justice also lack healthy fear. In Christendom, we refer to healthy fear as “fear of the Lord.” Without the fear of the Lord, people’s conclusions will prove to be vain and foolish, for the fear of the Lord is the beginning of godly wisdom that will produce healthy attitudes and honorable conduct (Psalm 111:10).

      The third lie involves the trustworthy character of God. Of course, to buy the final lie, you must first believe the first two lies. The real goal of Satan is to cause us to question the character of God. Once we begin to question God’s character, we can erect our own ideas of God. We can dress him up in any kind garb that will prove to be acceptable to our taste and understanding.

      In the first lie, the enemy got Eve to question the integrity of God’s word. In the second lie the devil got Eve to question God’s intent. In other words, God just wants to scare you because He has no intention of letting those He created and love, die. Now that God’s word is undermined and His intent appears fickle, then one can bring doubt on His character.

      Genesis 3:4-5 focus on the third and final lie, “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Satan implied the reason that God did not want her and Adam to eat of the tree is because they would gain the same understanding and status as God. God’s motivation was on the line. In other words, His motive was to keep them down rather than protect them from devastating consequences.

      Today, man thinks he knows best. In many arenas he has substituted worship of knowledge over worship of God. He often thinks he has the answers. He looks within rather than upward. He draws from his worldly sources only to fall into a vacuum that has no real answer or hope.

      The conversation we must have as Christians is that there is a righteous God and that because of Adam’s rebellion man is in a fallen state. In this state he serves that which is destructive and has been and will be judged by the righteous Law of God. Those who are under the Law of God stand condemned to die, as well as operate within a lost, dark state of hopelessness. We also must stress that all will stand before some type of judgment seat. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”, and Daniel 12:1c-2 gives us this insight, …and at the time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” 

      Once the door of physical death is opened, those who are lost to God, will be ushered into eternity where they will begin to pay the consequences. Their main offense is not the wrong they have committed, but it is because in unbelief they rejected God’s solution. They refused to face the problem that originated in the Garden of Eden, thereby, calling God a liar (1 John 1:8, 10). Since they spurned the problem, it is natural for them to reject the solution of His Son, therefore showing utter contempt towards the work of redemption.

      Christ is the sole solution to the problem that ails all of us, and the problem that He alone must address seems confusing to those who have followed after the so-called “wisdom” of the world, but it has been made clear in the Bible. But, due to the deceptive philosophies of the age, the Bible is undermined and the problem buried under psychobabble nonsense.

      What is the problem? Although it is not politically correct to identify the problem, it is what it is. It causes even believers to become lukewarm towards God and take useless detours. It has at times entangled me into a deadly web, enticed me into destructive traps, and blinded me to the simplicity of the solution. The problem is SIN.

      The inherent state of sin, with its guilt, shame, and condemnation, along with its consequences of death came from Adam (Romans 5:6-21). We are all born with it and it is our natural inclination to go with the lies in the Garden of Eden that serve our reality, our fleshly preference, and ways. We talk about what is wrong, but we will not adopt the truth of God so we can stand for what is right. We can worship what we know about a matter, but we will not connect to reality to see the folly of our inaction to do anything because our conclusions are void of truth and inept of any power to resolve the situation.

      Meanwhile, there are those who tout that we need to have a conversation, but how many of these individuals have no intention of changing their view on a matter? Many of us are content with looking intelligent about a matter, but how many of us are willing to find the solution outside of our own reality? How many of us are humble and meek enough to allow ourselves to be found wrong in order to discover what is right? Sadly, the world is falling into absolute lawlessness, not because the conversation that we need to have is obsolete or void of a solution, it is because the world at large will have no part in the solution God has provided, and the church is failing to rightfully address the problem of sin.

      The Bible is clear that Jesus came to address sin by dying on the cross. He went to a grave to silence sin’s accusations, and He victoriously rose again three days later to prove that sin had no power over Him. It tells us that the Lord wants to reason with us about our sin (Isaiah 1:18). His Word is the sharp sword that is capable of cutting through the vain philosophies and lies of the present age with truths that will result in right conclusions and the implementation of sound solutions (Hebrews 4:12).

      As believers, we know that our humble beginnings started with the work of redemption on the cross. At times in our journey we need to remember that we have been purged from our sins (2 Peter 1:8-9). We must not forget that the Gospel is the beginning of the conversation we need to have with each soul, beginning with the part of the conversation that clearly states, “Jesus died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and can produce the right state in a person, that of being born again of the water (Word of God) and of the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:16; John 3:5 refer to Ephesians 5:26, 1 Peter 1:23, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 10:17).

      Perhaps this would be a good time for each of us as Christians to examine ourselves in light of our high calling. I do not believe that the real problem with our youth lies with simply having a right conversation with them, because I believe there must be also a visible confirmation. In other words, I believe that our youth need to see what is real: they need to see Jesus, the essence of His attitude, life, and ways being lifted up in us, and walked out in practical living. After all, Jesus stated that if He was lifted up, He would draw all men to Himself (John 12:32).