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Section 7. Living The Faith... The Biblical Christian

 

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Donít Waste Your Life
Jason Engwer

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Also See
Do You Believe in Anything Worth Contending For (below)

John Piper recently wrote a book titled Don't Waste Your Life (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003). It can be ordered at http://www.desiringgod.org/index.shtml or http://www.amazon.com. I recommend the book to every Christian and for the evangelization of non-Christians. If only more people would write like this in our trivializing age:

The path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, "Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full....Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy....

Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain....

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader's Digest, which tells about a couple who "took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells." At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn't. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life - your one and only precious, God-given life - and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: "Look, Lord. See my shells." That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream....

One thing matters: Know Christ, and gain Christ. Everything is rubbish in comparison to this.

What is the one passion of your life that makes everything else look like rubbish in comparison? Oh, that God would help me waken in you a single passion for a single great reality that would unleash you, and set you free from small dreams, and send you, for the glory of Christ, into all the spheres of secular life and to all the peoples of the earth....

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels....

Just think of the magnitude of sports - a whole section of the daily newspaper. But there is no section on God. Think of the endless resources for making your home and garden more comfortable and impressive. Think of how many tens of thousands of dollars you can spend to buy more car than you need. Think of the time and energy and conversation that go into entertainment and leisure and what we call "fun stuff." And add to that now the computer that artificially recreates the very games that are already so distant from reality; it is like a multi-layered dreamworld of insignificance expanding into nothingness....

Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe true greatness. It is a small word. That's the point. It's cheap. And it's what millions of young people live for. Who confronts them with urgency and tears? Who pleads with them not to waste their lives? Who takes them by the collar, so to speak, and loves them enough to show them a life so radical and so real and so costly and Christ-saturated that they feel the emptiness and triviality of their CD collection and their pointless conversations about passing celebrities?...

Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy - as precious as that is....

Christ came and died and rose again in order to gather a joyful, countless company for his name from all the peoples of the world. This is what every Christian should dream about....

This is God's design in world history - that people from all nations and tribes and languages come to worship and treasure Christ above all things. Or as Paul put it in Romans 15:9, "that the Gentiles [all the peoples] might glorify God for his mercy." There can be no weary resignation, no cowardly retreat, and no merciless contentment among Christ's people when he is disowned among thousands of unreached peoples....

Let love flow from your saints, and may it, Lord, be this: that even if it costs our lives, the people will be glad in God. "Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy." Take your honored place, O Christ, as the all-satisfying Treasure of the world. With trembling hands before the throne of God, and utterly dependent on your grace, we lift our voice and make this solemn vow: As God lives, and is all I ever need, I will not waste my life (pp. 10, 40, 45-46, 48, 120, 125, 128-129, 162, 189)

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    Excerpts from an article entitled
    Do You Believe in Anything Worth Contending For
    by
    Jason Engwer

    It's popular today to live a trivial life and to have a trivial worldview. People are surrounded by more means of entertaining themselves than at any other time in history (television, radio, computers, malls, sports, etc.). Living a life that doesn't have much meaning or consequence is promoted in advertising. How else are companies going to sell these products that people wouldn't find much use for if they actually took life seriously? People have to take life seriously sometimes (a death in the family, a financial problem, etc.), but they're often encouraged to avoid it as much as possible. If you want to maintain a trivial worldview, avoid difficulties, and entertain yourself, you can. You can turn on a sitcom. You can play a video game. You can go to an arts and crafts fair. You don't have to take life seriously.

    There are people whose only sense of urgency in life is to get tickets for an upcoming football game, to find another pornographic site on the web, or to get to a party early enough to drink a lot of beer. There are people who don't contend for anything, because they don't believe in anything worth contending for. It's considered a commendable thing today to be so unconcerned with truth that you view all religions as basically the same. If you avoid trying to have an impact on the lives of other people, and you avoid exposing false belief systems for what they are, it's called "tolerance" and "respect". Taking the path of least resistance has never been so popular. [See Section on Religious Pluralism]

    Some of you may be contending for some things or may be willing to contend for those things if you had to. For example, you might love your family enough to die for them if you had to. That's good. But, as Jesus explained, even unrepentant sinners have love for their family and friends (Matthew 5:46-47, 7:11). That isn't bad, but we should go further.

    Do you believe in anything that has eternal implications? Do you believe in things that can actually change the worldview of other people for the better, that will impact future generations, and can affect how people will spend eternity after they die? ....

    After you die, what will you be remembered for? How many sports statistics you had memorized? How many jokes you knew and how easily you could get people to laugh? How many cans of beer you could drink in a sitting? How well you managed your company or served tables at a restaurant? How much you were loved just because you were born into a particular family, even though you never did much else other than being born? There's a saying that's true whether you want it to be or not:

      One life to live, twill soon be past; Only what's done for Jesus will last.

    All of us need rest (Matthew 11:28). God allows us to be entertained and to enjoy life (Acts 14:17). There's a lot to enjoy. There's nothing wrong with humor. We should laugh sometimes. We should feed the hungry, take care of the sick, love our families, help friends, and do other things that aren't unique to Christianity. But what is unique to Christianity should always be on our hearts. At the same time that we try to feed and heal people's bodies, we should try to do the same for their souls. And Christ and His gospel will do that, not the false teachers and false gospels of Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc. These belief systems may offer health to the body and some health to the soul, but they also offer a lot of poison to the soul. Some of the followers of these belief systems are willing to contend for their convictions, and Christians should be contending against them.

    What are you living for? Is entertaining yourself with hobbies and such something that you do on the side, just occasionally? Or is your relationship with God something that you do on the side, just occasionally? There's a dark, decaying world around us, going to Hell. Are you salt and light? ...

    The prophet Daniel was told:

      "those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever" - Daniel 12:3

    How brightly will you shine? Labor for heavenly treasure (Matthew 6:19-20). Whether God gives you opportunity to do a little or a lot, be faithful with what you're entrusted with (1 Timothy 6:20). Whether you're a good influence to a few people or many, be a good influence. Don't dismiss things that seem small (Matthew 10:42, Hebrews 6:10). If you don't think you can do a lot, then start with a little and try to progress from there (Matthew 25:27). Think of what Paul was able to say at the end of a life of contending for things that were very much worth contending for:

      "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing....The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever." - 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 4:18

    [Also See True and False Unity

       Jesus and Division

     God and World Peace

    And Section on Ecumenism

     

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