Sunday, 28 February 2010

God-centred living in a godless world

A summary of the Bible Hour presentation at the Christadelphian Hall, Blackpool Street, Burton-upon-Trent on Sunday 28th February 2010.

This blog uses Bible references. If you don’t have a Bible, you can find the Bible text online.

First question: do we live in a godless world?

The 2001 UK census showed that 71% of the population say they are Christian, and a small percentage say they belong to other faiths. The same census showed that only 60% of the population actually believe in God. 18% are practising members of an organised religion, while 24% describe themselves as spiritual but not belonging to an organised religion. 12% are atheists and 14% agnostic.

A different survey indicated that 58% of the population believe in ghosts and aliens, and for 37% of the population this belief is the basis for their belief system.

It’s safe to say that this is a largely godless world!

It could be said that many of our society’s problems are due to its increased godlessness – for example social inequality, unrest and strife. But we’ll concentrate on just one aspect of current social hardship – the financial crisis.

Recessions are cyclical, but this one is different, it’s the result of a unique set of circumstances. It originated in the United States, where for years it had been Government policy to encourage home-ownership at all costs, even for people who couldn’t actually afford it. While house prices were rising this was OK (for the banks at least), because if householders got into trouble with their mortgage the houses could be sold and the banks got their money back, but when house prices stopped rising the banks found that they could no longer get their money back on defaulted mortgages. These mortgages became the so-called ‘toxic loans’.

Who was to blame? The US Government, for encouraging borrowing among people who couldn’t afford it (because it was good for votes)? The bankers, for happily lending to people who couldn’t afford it (because it was good for bonuses)? Or the borrowers, for taking out loans they knew they couldn’t afford (because it’s easier than saving up the hard way)? The answer is, everybody was to blame. It’s human nature!

In contrast to the human greed that got the world into this particular mess, consider the Bible’s teaching on how we should live.

Matthew chapters 5, 6 & 7 is Jesus’ ‘sermon on the mount’ – rules for Godly living. Read it through, and you’ll see that if society had been living by God’s rules, the financial crisis would never have happened. For example chapter 6 verse 19: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

To live by God’s rules is to find contentment and peace of mind. For example Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Those who are living a God-centred life in this godless world will be seen to be different. For example Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

A God-centred life is not just about peace of mind now – it’s about looking forward to the joy of the Kingdom of God.

Finally, look at Jesus’ parable about the judgement that will happen when he returns, Matthew 25:31-46. Not all those who follow him will see the joy of the Kingdom of God – it will only be those who have really lived God-centred lives in this present godless world.

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