A wave rolls in, falls down on the beach, and slides back out to sea. No one wave seems to talk in more than a whisper, but all together they roar. Though the sea can do sudden and drastic damage in an angry fit, its usual course is to burnish the beach. Each wave takes only a few grains of sand, and those only a few inches. Over and over and over; all day, every day; week after week; month in and month out; the years roll by. Each wave is a negotiation between the sea and the shore. The waves don’t tire. Given enough time, their job will be done. Eventually, the beach moves.
The world is the sea, ever beating against us. We too can be worn down, sometimes ever so slowly. Whether we realize it or not, erosion is taking place; whether it be the repetition of the gentle, lapping waves or the sudden destruction of a typhoon. Over the course of time we become immune to it, like riding a motorcycle headlong into a locust swarm and wondering if it is beginning to sprinkle.
There is hardly anything in North American culture that will push a person closer to God. Capitalism, environmentalism, entertainment, the Internet, television, Sea World, shopping malls, vacations, talk radio, social networking sites, and everything else that is particularly suited for our pleasure is often diametrically opposed to our spiritual life. Like the waves that pound the beach, the relentless beating of our culture wears away at our sensibilities as well as our spirituality. As the title of a popular song says, It’s a slow fade.
Inspired wisdom says one cannot love God and love the world—or the things that are in the world—at the same time. But the waves have dulled our senses.
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, why are we so discontented with the things that we have?
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, why are we in debt?
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, why do we save, plan, and borrow to get bigger and “better” things?
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, why do we feel cheated when we cannot have newer and more things?
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, why do we envy those who have more than we?
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, why is it that we cannot seem to do without any of it for any extended period of time?
If we do not love the world or the things that are in the world, what would it look like if we did?
What would older saints think about the institution now called Christianity? What would our Pentecostal ancestors from 100 years ago think? What would the great revivalists think? What would the early American Christians think? What would the apostles think?
To stand on the outside of American culture and evaluate the state of things, one would be quite shocked at how desperate the situation has become. A Christian from some other place or time might ask: Do professing Christians really take off most of their clothes and swim together with friends, fellow church-goers, and absolute strangers of the opposite sex? Do their women actually reveal most of their legs, all of their arms, and their cleavage while going to the grocery store? Do they actually wear tight-fitting clothes which leave nothing to be imagined? Is it true that some women so dressed move about on a stage while leading a congregation in what has come to be known as worship? Do men actually volunteer to work extra hours during regular meetings of the church so they can have extra money to buy things? Is it true that parents leave their children with pagan tutors all day so they both can work to earn more money in order to buy more nonessential things? Can it be that they are not content with the earthly possessions they have? Is it so that Christians watch the portrayal of homosexuality, adultery, fornication, murder, embezzlement, gratuitous violence, and most every other sin for entertainment?
Waves have always beaten against the shore, only now they beat on us. We are the shore. Will we stand our ground?
New addition! I have recently added a new page which contains audio files for sermoholics. To access this page, click on the “Audio” tab at the top of this page.
© Rodney Shaw and rodneyshaw.wordpress.com 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rodney Shaw and rodneyshaw.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.