Summary: Search for a way out of deadness.

Back to the Basics

By Andrew Chan, PBC, Vancouver, BC

Psalm 1

Bill Bryson: “Tourism is an odd thing, You fly off to a strange land, eagerly abandoning all the comforts of home and then expend time and money in a futile attempt to recapture the comforts that you wouldn’t have lost if you hadn’t left home in the first place.”

Isn’t that the truth? Similarly and sadly, it can be said of spirituality. It is an odd thing. Bible provides all the comfort we would ever want, all answers to life promises blessing, what we find is humanity abandoning it all to recapture what they always wanted, expending time and money in a futile attempt to be happy to recreate paradise, heaven, Eden do they get it?

“This age will die, not from sin, but from lack of passion” Soren Kierkegaard more than a century ago wrote it. Campolo in his book Carpe Diem noted : “Annually, marriages end by the millions. And they do not end for reasons we might imagine. Adultery is not even close to being the dominant cause for these failed love affairs, even though many married people have affairs. It is simply that the relationships die. And they die because the PEOPLE ARE DEAD. After a handful of years, there isn’t much passion left in these marriages. There isn’t even enough passion for the betrayed spouses to hate their unfaithful mates. Hating takes emotion, and there just isn’t much of that left in people these days. One time partners calmly talk about ‘drifting apart’. They describe themselves in the psychobabble so common on the “Donahue” show. They talk about having transcended ‘codependent relationships’ and enjoying their ‘private space.’ Their marriages end amicably because there is so little caring left in either husbands or wives that there is nothing left to fight about -except money.

Kids are dead - “cool” . used to like speaking at youth gatherings, no more, not that they misbehave or show no respect, “they scare me with their deadness.” Teen culture glamorize sex w/o sexual involvement, say putdowns to people w/o concern, mothers cry about their unfeeling manners and they hardly notice the tears. Can kill w/o feeling.

Too often, this phrase is heard in newpapers report youth convicted in court “And when the verdict was read, the defendant showed no emotion.”

Finally Campolo also states that the Churches are dead. Real reason churches are emptying is because they are dead. “Don’t argue with me about this. Just go into most churches, and you’ll feel the deadness.”

See mess this world is into? How do u find blessing, bliss without actually leaving home without going to Tokyo or Paris, mountain in Tibet, some hole in India?

In mind of Scripture, it is quite clear cut what is the way of the godly.

1. Blessing, happy - evokes joy, gratitude, sense of bliss - grace - gift of God. God declares sinners to be righteous, because of the reality of redemption-His gift of grace and offering of forgiveness of sins receive blessing, outside of blessing is cursed life. Feeling, but not only that it is more, reception of gift from hand of God, either bad or good circumstance cannot take away gift of God. In OT blessing of God rested on Abraham - both experienced (partially) and anticipation of fulfillment of God’s promises. This is God’s will for people.

While happiness blessedness is gift of God, it must be promoted by two kinds of activities

1. dissociation from wicked (v.1) walk, stand or sit – not be involved with anything tainted with evil.

It seems many have taken this in today’s terms to be “navel gazers.” In the book Final Roar Bob Briner wrote that Christians in North America aren’t marginalized by an antagonistic culture. It’s more like they have not shown up in the larger society with any level of influence. Tim Callaway wrote in review of the book in Christian Week (May 2001 issue) “Popular culture lacks meaningful Christian influence.” It looks like, Christians are the ones influenced by popular culture, not vice versa. Why? Briner gives this answer: “American Christians have become increasingly self-indulgent and self-absorbed.” Telling isn’t it? Christians are looking to pop culture for bliss, not to God. Looking at styles of worship for bliss, not to God, nor His word.

2. association with God (v.2-3) - law of the Lord responding to life giving aspects

The text speaks of going back to the basics:

meditate - basic meaning alludes to sound of animals or moaning noise, murmur mutter, repetition, reflection on word, in course of daily activities. When any team in pro sports goes through a slump, they always use this phrase “go back to the basics.” Christians in North America experiencing slumps – only about 3-6% of Vancouver are churches, and out of that number, I wonder how many are actually living lives energized by the Spirit of God?

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