Summary: Learn to discern the philosophies that come from God and those that do not
I received an email this past Wednesday that asked if I knew anything about Tachyon energy. Tachyon energy is supposedly some form of energy, when channeled into us, brings peace, joy and health. If you’ve done any reading about the new age movement, the Tachyon website and links contained practically all the characteristics of a new age scam. While the new age is a repackaging of the eastern philosophies with western science, many Americans are buying into this scientific spirituality.
We live in a complicated and hurting world where many try to find help to stop the pain, the meaninglessness and the guilt, while others either are trying to offer help or make a profit from our broken dreams and emptiness. As a result, many of us, Christians included, are having a hard time discerning our world, what is true and what is false. Unfortunately, some of the help offered will create even more damage to our thinking and practice than any help promised.
Many simply want what medicates and stops the pain and gives us hope, and for some, even false hope will do for the moment. Many work at developing more self-esteem; for others, creating financial success. When the pain from a lack of meaning bleeds through the bandages of self-esteem and financial success, other forms of self-effort take over. Those who claim that we are gods along the path of maturity are disguising control that seeks desperately to heal oneself.
Still others turn to relationships, one after another, and eventually, one kind of relationship after another. Happiness and escaping any discomfort become the goals in life. These goals are not new; in fact, many of the man-made solutions are also not new. The attempts to ignore, deny, control, and redefine our aching lack of fulfillment are simply not working. God will simply not be ignored, denied, controlled or redefine, because the Bible tells us that apart from God we can do nothing.
The Bible tells us to humble ourselves and admit our brokenness and inability to save ourselves. The Bible tells us to turn from our own ways and to receive God’s solution through Jesus Christ. And the Bible tells us to discipline our minds and lives according to God’s instruction and standard. Yet, to many, the Bible seems too old fashion in an age of immediate gratification and too limiting in a world with untold options. Many rationalize that since we can satisfy our physical hunger in seconds, why not our emotional and spiritual hunger? Since we have so many options in the vending machines and the pharmacies, why can we not also choose our solution to save ourselves?
This morning, we will look at some final instructions Paul gives to the Christians in Philippi, and instructions that will help us, to discern our world. How do we discern whether the philosophies of our culture and time are helpful or destructive? And for many of us who are concerned about being obedient to God, how do we respond in the face of teachings and influences that are not clearly addressed in the Bible, especially those that have come after the writing of the Bible?
Let me read for us Philippians 4:8-9, and find there three guides for discerning our world.
FIRST, Paul calls the Philippians, and I would call us, to choose from the world that which is morally excellent and worthy of God’s praise. We see this in verse 8.
You need to know Paul’s list of characteristics for the Philippians to think about, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and whatever is admirable, is not found in any of his other letters or the writings of Jewish or Christian teachers of his time. Nevertheless, three of the six characteristics, truth, righteousness and purity, are godly virtues found in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Yet, such a total list of moral characteristics is very common in the Greek moral teachings of the Philippians’ day and culture.
As you remember, the Philippians lived in a Greco-Roman culture, and they were surrounded by Greek and Roman religious and philosophical teachings day in and day out. One of Paul’s final words of instruction for the Philippians was not, "Build a monastery and stay away from everyone who does not share your Christian views."
Instead, Paul demonstrated the need to choose from the world’s philosophy that which is morally excellent and worthy of God’s praise. Unfortunately, many of us choose what is easy, quick, pleasurable and comfortable rather than what is morally excellent and worthy of God’s praise or approval.
A link from the Tachyon website, called Peace 21, taught that we can bring peace to the entire world by visualizing ourselves holding hands with everyone around the world. Such is an easy and comfortable philosophy that does not require us to dig into our check books, roll up our sleeves and think up creative solutions to resolving the world famines, diseases, disasters and evils done by one to another.