Solid Rock…or Sinking Sand?

“On Christ the solid rock I stand/All other ground is sinking sand.”

I’ve been thinking lately about the different worldviews, philosophies, and idealogies that are all around me.  In this day in age, we are surrounded not just by a melting pot of Methodists, First Baptists, Second Baptists, and Pentacostals, but one of Rastafarians, Atheists, Muslism, Sikhs, and Twinkie-ites (those who believe that sugar is the only way to happiness). 

I do not personally know people of such radically different viewpoints (although I suspect I know some closet Twinkie-ites), but I cannot escape the influence of their positions.  (And eventually I’m sure I’ll encounter such persons on a personal basis.) That is why recently I have been endeavoring to better understand these people and their idealogies…not because I embrace the o-so-popular idea of “total tolerance”–also known as relatavism–but rather because……well, let’s try a word picture.  My Dad is the master of those, and I hope I got a bit of his pictoral prowess:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand/All other ground is sinking sand.”

I’m on the solid rock.  I know where I stand and I will not be moved from it (not because of the strength by which I, Alex stand upon it, but by the overwhelming power of Christ).

All other ground is sinking sand–milions of people are tottering precariously on the sinking sand….I’m on the rock….thus, I want to reach out to them and bring them to safety.  (not by the power of depraved, dumb Alex, but that of my omniscient, omnipotent Lord.) 

But how?  This is where the philosophy analysis comes in:  by better understanding what sinking sand is and how it works, I can better help those who are on it.  Just as if I were a ranger at a park that had sinking sand, I would need to know a lot about it, not because I was seriously considering standing upon it, but because people might become trapped in it and somebody needs to know what to do.

Does that make sense to any of you?  If I curl up like a pillbug (roly-poly, whatever), and avoid even acknowledging the existence of the sinking sand and/or those who are on it, what sort of witness am I?  I have a burning desire to help people–the people who are all around me, here and now–off the sand before it’s too late.  I want them to feel the security of the my Rock and My Redeemer. 

I don’t know how/when/where God wants to use me for that purpose, but I’m trusting that He “who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Praise the Lord that I’m on the Rock!  Let us have a new heart of compassion for those who are on the sand, and entreat them to come to Christ, even pulling with all our might to do so.

Just like a certain person pulled me out of the creek/rocks/dustpile/etc. at Turkey Run on Sunday…..:)

Alexandra

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Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 7:19 am  Comments (6)  

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  1. Bravo, sister! You have elaborated on one of the greatest joys offered to us by God – participating in the means He uses to sovereignly and effectually call the lost. Reaching out to the different “tribes and tongues” of the world and engaging them on their own ground with the truth of the gospel is unsurpassed in my experiences thus far.

    One of the most treasured possessions I own is the memory of an meal I ate with a group of intellectuals (well, we are all aspiring intellectuals, hardly there yet) from campus. The next day we were to publicly debate the issues of “evil, suffering and the meaning of man” in a forum, but that evening we gathered just to talk. 3 naturalists (one was agnostic, the other two atheists – one of which was a socialist), a hindu, 2 muslims, a new-age spiritualist (pantheist) and two Christians (including myself). The point of our meeting was to clear the way for the debate the next day, as well as to establish friendships and a real person behind the argument (a habit that works wonders).

    The single rule was to only ask questions of clarification that evening, no debating. What quickly became clear was the difference in meaning each group attached to the words we would be using the next day. Imagine the vast oceans of difference separating our understanding of such words as heaven, hell, Jesus, man, death, life, purpose, sin, salvation, holiness, pain, evil, suffering, morality, ethics, choice, free-will, predestination, sin-nature and so forth.

    I am not a deconstructionist, I do not believe all meanings/interpretations are equal/valid nor do I believe that communication is impossible. But in order to explain the gospel to someone you must know what they understand when you say Jesus, sin, salvation, heaven, hell etc., let alone understanding their worldview in order to engage them at every point of their existence with the truth of the gospel.

    We could talk about this topic for days and fill the blogosphere with words until Jesus comes back. I’m really looking forward to talking to you some more about this. Keep blogging what you learn about each group/topic, about apologetics.

    If I may offer a suggestion, spend as much time praying over, meditating on and studying the theory of apologetics and the role it plays in God saving men as you do on the pragmatic aspects.

    See ya,

    Ben

  2. Thank you! I always appreciate the time you take to read my ramblings, post a comment, and/or pause and think. Never fear leaving an overly-long comment; I promise to read it no matter how long. 🙂
    The discussion/dinner sounds like an incredible experience–so eye-opening! We so easily forget that not everybody else thinks just like we do, obviously outside of the Christian circle, but also within it. How much dissension could be such more pleasant if we only took the time to actually step in the other’s shoes! It is a hard balance to find, though…how do you sincerely study and listen to another person’s ideas while yet firmly holding to own convictions? How do I honestly inquire about somebody’s beliefs while knowing that I am completely close-minded about such things? (I’m speaking about obvious, yes-or-no matters of absolute truth, such as the existence of God, the deity of Christ, and the depravity of man….not issues with listening to other Christians’ ideas over minor quirks, patterns, or styles of worship music.)
    I agree completely, hermano! To able to present the gospel effectively and powerfully, we have to understand where another is coming from. We have to realize that there are certain foundational assumptions they make which will completely color their interpretations of what we say. We have to comprehend that they may not have even truly considered certain concepts that we grew up hearing/knowing/seeing. For example, if somebody (let’s call him “Bob”) always lived under the supposition that heaven is merely a state of mind, then Bob rationally concludes that a literal hell does not exist. This, in turn, radically influences his whole concept of divine judgment, punishment, and, in light of that, restitution and glorification. If heaven is merely a state of “nirvana”, and is something man can achieve on his own, why does Bob need a god? Why does he need anyone to save him/sanctify him if he is able to achieve that “perfected state” by his own good deeds, efforts, and money?
    Obviously, merely telling Bob “repent or God’ll send ya to hell!” means nothing to him because he does not believe in a literal hell/location of tangible punishment. He cannot conceive of such a place because he has not been intellectually or emotionally exposed to it–therefore, we have to go back to square one. I’m not sure that any issue can be separated and debated on its own; every idea/opinion is interconnected–one’s stance on heaven depends on one’s stance on God which in part depends on one’s stance on man….the list goes on and on.
    So, when talking to Bob, where do I start? Obviously, before we can discuss heaven as a literal location of God’s redeemed, we have to go back to the concept of redemption, which goes back to the concept of man’ depravity, which in turn flies back to one’s whole perception of man, God, and the difference between the two.
    But if I do not take the time to realize where Bob’s ratiocination has led him, I could quite easily start at the wrong end of the argument. It’s amazing how one’s worldview filters every item that one comes into contact with–which is why it is so deadly important to: 1.) know what you believe (this does not mean “having all the answers/having it all figured out” but rather a firm foundation in the fundamentals), 2.) understand the vast difference of life-perception in general that various groups have, and take that into consideration when conversing with someone of another persuasion of faith/lack thereof.
    I’m looking forward to talking/e-mailing/blogging/please not texting with you on this topic, too!
    Good point–I have a proclivity toward over-pragmatism at times, and it’s important to not merely seek the Truth, receive an insight of it, act upon it, and stop the seeking. (It’s just as dangerous to be continually seeking but never acting–for can one say he has actually found the Truth and knows it if he does not act upon it?)
    Anyways, that was rambling, and I’m sorry if there are any typos. Hope it challenges and encourages all who read it! As always, feedback is good, people…..:)
    Alex

  3. Hello Alex,
    It’s apparent that you’ve spent time consciously wrestling with a few of the ins and outs of communicating the gospel to a diverse and confused world (unlike ourselves of course, who arrived at the gospel ‘cause we’re so smart. 1 Cor 1:18-31). At so many points I recognized old familiar crossroads of thought, places of fog or struggles, and I must say that most of the time we chose the same answers to the same questions.
    The reason I ask you to think about the role apologetics plays in God’s plan is because if you choose to take a stand there will come a time when it fails you, when you have no answer for their objections and are made to look a fool in front of hundreds. Even worse, you will hear the God you love mocked and scorned. He allows it, but it hurts. And a time will come when you succeed, and answer every objection they throw before showing the foolishness of their arguments. There will come times when fellow believers you trusted will disavow the faith, when no one will believe despite your clear answers to their objects, a time when they will believe despite the fact that their arguments were stronger. A time when you yourself will fail – intellectually, academically morally, relationally.
    If the relationship between God and man, the gospel and apologetics is not firmly grounded in every atom of your being and constantly brought to mind these experiences will be too much for you to handle, and you will have to struggle mightily to keep your faith.
    As tempted as I am to reply with an even longer post, my body demands that I go to sleep rather than stay up all night reading (I purchased Paradise Lost today) or posting a full reply on your blog. Instead I will revisit the crossroads I lingered at in the past or am revisiting for further consideration and decide which few to ask you about when a free moment comes.

    Thank you for yet another well-considered blog. Don’t worry about typos. I enjoyed giving you a hard time about the misuse of a certain word, but in reality I couldn’t care less about them.

    Ben

    PS C.S. Lewis once said that even a scholar’s parrot can speak greek. I often wonder to what extent we really understand what we’re talking about, and to what extent we are merely repeating the ideas of others without really understanding them.

  4. It’s all about relationships. It takes a massive amount of time to get to really know someone and what they believe – whatver the label.
    Our tendency is to short-circuit the process with magical words and our glorious insight.
    But alas – in this fast-paced society of shallow relationships and of walls 16 feet thick – we simply are not willing to carve out the time it takes to touch other believers, much less the lost.
    It will take a new flavor or relationships within the Church for the world to be touched. Transparency, humility, honesty, and unselfishness. These are the characteristics that will change the world…..one soul at a time.

  5. Alex, you spoke words from my heart with this post. I’ve been growing more and more restless with where I am and my lack of knowledge and the ability to share my faith with more than just “believe it because the bible tells us too.”
    Quite often it seems like Paul studied the people around him; what their lives were like, what they believed, what their values were, and who their gods were, THEN he told them the truth with wisdom….

  6. It seems like this is a growing desire in the hearts of multiple Christians around me. The increasing globalization of our society is forcing us to adapt–it requires a constantly growing understanding of other worldviews in order to relate to the wildly varied demographics that we have the opportunity to witness to on a regular basis. Comprehension of our own worldview is also vital in order to remain on the solid rock, and not be tempted over to the sinking sand. So many of today’s Christian young people are clueless over what they truly believe (this breaks my heart and burns within me), and are thus highly gullible targets to the first greased and gilded tongue they encounter. We must provide a firm grasp upon the Truth for our young people, for they cannot stand in the real world without a foundation. Daily, my brothers and sister in Christ fall, their faith crumbling like an Oreo under a stiletto. How can this be? We have the youth groups (can anybody say King’s Island?), we have the Christian-ized rock music, we have the cool Bible covers…..my generation has frequently and tragically placed entertainment, comfort, and maintaining status quo at a higher priority than a personal relationship and commitment (sacrificial commitment especially) to Christ. A crucial part of that commitment is knowing Who the Lamb is, who we are, and not mixing up the two. Young or old or somewhere in between, we need to stand up and rescue, by the power of Christ, this generation from its crisis. My people, let us understand our need for the solid Rock, understand Who He is, and then firmly fix our foundation upon Christ and Christ alone.
    (Note: I do not wish to be disdainful of the confused young people whose demographic I share. I pity them and have a great heart for them to see the Truth. It is my prayer that would not be condescending to them but would realize that it is only by the mercy of God that I am not still exchanging the Truth of God for a lie. More on this topic is written in my post “Get off the Ship!”—I blog and think about this a lot because I am very passionate about it.)


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