Tuesday, 11 September 2012
WHAT BLINDS PEOPLE
Why it is easy to be mesmerised by beauty, wealth, status, power, intellect and charisma.
You can get preferential treatment if you want to visit someone staying in a guarded and gated residential enclave. Just drive a luxury car and wave at the security guards at the entrance and they will let you in. However, if you drive an ordinary car, you’ll be subjected to stringent checks – you may need to produce your identity card to gain access.
Even a car can blind people’s eyes! To the guards, a car reflects a person’s wealth and status in society. They think the rich and powerful are respectable so they have no evil designs; they won’t commit crime.
We, wittingly or unwittingly, also tend to be partial. We tend to be mesmerised by beauty, wealth, status, power, intellect and charisma. And we accord more attention and respect to people with these qualities.
“As believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, you must never treat people in different ways according to their outward appearance. Suppose a rich man wearing a gold ring and fine clothes comes to your meeting, and a poor man in ragged clothes also comes. If you show more respect to the well-dressed man and say to him, “Have this best seat here,” but say to the poor man, “Stand over there, or sit here on the floor by my feet,” then you are guilty of creating distinctions among yourselves and of making judgments based on evil motives” (James 2:1-4).
Alas, we have allowed the values of the world to mould and influence our thoughts that we spontaneously behave like people in the world.
That’s why we need to renew our minds – study the Word and reflect on its values. “Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God — what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect” (Romans 12:2).
On a much broader front, believers can get so enchanted by the glitz and glitter in church — soothing music, rousing worship, imposing architecture, luxurious ambience, eloquence of the preacher — that they fail to distinguish between the form (externals, frills) and the substance (core values, essentials).
Now there is nothing wrong with having all the nice things in life — the music, ambience and eloquent 1 preaching. But the substance too must be there:
Is God’s presence truly in the church?
Is the doctrine well-balanced and sound?
Are the church funds well accounted for?
Does absolute power reside in one person only?
Are there sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse of funds and the emergence of “mini-dictatorship”?
Has there been too much ‘hero worshipping’ that the leader is seen as someone who can do no wrong?
Has he been idolised to the extent that his wrongdoings 2 must be covered up for the sake of maintaining the status quo?
Has there been an inordinate emphasis on building an elaborate sanctuary — incurring massive debts in the process — at the expense of missions and social work?
Has the church been too inward-looking, rather than being kingdom-minded?
Having started out well, has the church allowed a different kind of gospel to seep into it along the way — a “health and wealth” gospel?
How much of the cross 3 is featured in the church’s idea of the gospel?
Has there been a healthy balance between the Word and Holy Spirit in the body life and ministry of the church?
Once again, we need to be reminded of the values we say we espouse.
May we be challenged regarding our personal focus:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
May we heed the warning to the Laodicean church:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realise that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:15-18).
1. On eloquence: Paul said, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4).
2. In keeping with God’s mercy, leaders who genuinely repent after having committed a grievous sin must be received with grace, forgiveness and restoration.
3. The centrality of the cross: “I decided that while I was with you I would forget about everything except Jesus Christ and his death on the cross” (1 Corinthians 2:2).