CHALLENGES TO HOLY LIVING
Dr. Benjamin George
Two thousand years before the modern technological advances, the saintly apostle Paul cautioned believers: "Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to Him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve God. Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him" (Rom 12:1,2 CEV).
When Christians get older and mature, they become more concerned about their spiritual life. This does not mean that the younger generation has no interest in these things - not at all. My passion for my God and desire to know Him and to lead a life that pleases Him started very young, thanks to my godly heritage and the lives of my grandparents and parents. The commitment of my father the late Mr. P. V. George to His Savior and Master, the Unique Christ and the fervor of my Grandfather the late T L Benjamin for His God, challenged me to follow their footsteps at a very young age. The Lord who began a good work in me has kept the fire burning and I hold on to His promise that He will complete it until the day I meet Him and even beyond in eternity!
In my younger days my spiritual life was more on the legalistic terms of wanting to be obedient to all the commandments and to please God. I longed for it. But as I aged, I realized that what was more important to God was ‘seeking Him’ and finding Him and having found, keep following closely!’
The younger generation Christians may wonder, ‘didn’t he find God yet?’ Men of the Bible like Enoch, Noah, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and apostles John and Paul who sought and found God and the church Fathers like Augustine and also modern day saints like Brother Lawrence, author of ‘Practicing the presence of God’ and Thomas à Kempis who wrote the ‘Imitation of Christ’, J. I. Packer well-known for his book ‘Intimacy with Christ’ taught me that it is not so much ‘our works of the law or doing things for God but ‘in our seeking God’ that He delights in! To such, the Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ reveal themselves. God’s desire for us is revealed to us through the enduring words of Jeremiah the prophet, "You shall seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says Jehovah" (Jer 29:13-14).
The Pure in Heart shall see God
When Jesus came to reveal God the Father to us in His person and preaching, He said something very significant and important in our search for God: "Blessed are the pure in heart! For they shall see God" (Mat 5:8 MKJV). ‘GOD’S WORD’ translation puts it this way which clarifies for us, "Blessed are those whose thoughts are pure. They will see God". Jesus again said plainly, "From your heart come the evil ideas which lead you to kill, commit adultery, and do other immoral things; to rob, lie, and slander others. These are the things that make you unclean" (Mt 15:19-20 GNB). The examples of the saints of old and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles and of course my passion to see God set me on the path to seek purity of heart. Friends, young and old, it is an uphill task to the every end of your earthly life but worthwhile every bit!
Contemporary challenges of holy living in our ‘Modern world of Technology – media, globalization, economic development & other such changes are indeed great! Needless to mention that the temptation and perils are much greater to the younger generation who are familiar with and have easy access to these new age gadgets and facilities! So I address all believers, especially the young who are used to and are already or tempted to be influenced in their hearts, thoughts and actions through various ‘God-given’ technological advances.
The Mass Media - Especially the Net PORNOGRAPHY
The presence and indulgence in pornography in the society, even among the Christians is of major concern to the civic and the Christian leaders! Governments are trying their best to stamp it out but things only go ‘underground’. Statistics show that a good number of church leaders and even Pastors in the West are addicted to pornography on the Internet! The East has already caught up! It is even greater among the poor pew-sitters in the churches! The latest report says that women too have got entangled in the dragnet of pornography in a big way!
What a pity in the privacy of one’s rooms where Jesus taught us to ‘seek and pray to your Father who sees in secret’, we shut ourselves up and watch secretly, gross pornographic materials for hours! The wonderful time for prayers in secret and reading and meditation of God’s Word has gone out of the window to our souls’ destruction! Years ago glossy pornographic sex magazines used to be secretly bought and hidden away for private viewing! But today there is no need to spend money or hide anything. All are available at your fingertip on the Internet! It comes even as unsolicited and for free and becomes too difficult to get deleted from the hardware! One may get tempted in the beginning innocently and out of curiosity ‘just to see’ what it is after all! Watch out!
Shut it Off and Keep Away!
You will be caught and become addicted unless after ‘the first inquisitive viewing’, if ever it happened to you, you do not determine ‘to immediately delete’ the offensive and demoralizing stuff without ‘even opening!’ You will be ruined forever! The only way not to open your hearts and minds to sexual immorality is to ‘throw out’ all your pornographic collections, if you have and once and for all decide to control your fingers not to ‘click’ on the mouse or tap on the destructive keyboard buttons! Do it believers, for the purity of heart with which alone you will see God! Another good piece of advice to those who are addicted already: Keep the doors of your room open always so all passersby could see what you are doing! Shut your doors only to seek the face of your Father in secret prayer!
Violence and Crime
Entertainment on the net and the video are a boon for the children and parents. They keep parents free and the little ones occupied. Small kids, school children and teens are glued to the monitors playing all kinds of ‘exciting games’. The curse is that many of these games are now extremely violent and the actors take the form of evil and wicked creatures from ultra space with extraterrestrial weapons which are extremely destructive in power. The game is to overpower and destroy the foes.
Psychologists everywhere agree now that it has a definite deleterious effect on the minds of all and especially the young and the old who are mentally immature or unstable. The movies from Hollywood to Bollywood are interspersed with extreme violence and they depict that brutal force is the answer to every personal problems. Beware what you view and what you let your children watch to occupy their time!
Television – The west dish out immorality worldwide even to the poor third world countries!
My father in law a ‘Jacobite’ in his mid-eighties visited us in Kuala Lumpur during the early seventies. He had seen only the Indian TV news from Delhi and some early Indian programs, mostly cultural! At that time my dear old mother from Kerala was staying with us. They both used to watch our TV when we and our children were busy with our chores. Once they were watching the live telecast from Hollywood ‘the BEAUTY QUEEN CONTEST’. Both of them were so shocked and upset with the ‘sheer nudity of women’ who dared to bare all before the billions of men, women and children around the world! The old man remarked to us, "Couldn’t some one give them a ‘kuriandu’ (towel) if they were so poor to cover their bare flesh! The ‘fig leaf’ that God used in Eden to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve did more justice than today’s bikinis!
Today even in the third world countries whole families of grand parents, parents, teenagers and even little children, all sit around the ‘idiot box’ on soft sofas and ‘relax watching those nude girls of all size and color walk by gyrating!’ We feel nothing! Or don’t we? I wonder what the sexually active men, young and old would be thinking and imagining, even if it evokes no feeling in the women! God in heaven who created those beautifully attractive bodies of Adam and Eve didn’t want to view their nakedness, for He covered them with fig leaves! The beauty and attractiveness of their bodies was created for their own private enjoyment. He did not want others to look at what was private & pure to be tempted and defiled!
What would God in heaven be thinking when He sees us, families of three or four generations sitting with our eyes glued on those modern girls walking around like ‘naked cave women’ for the whole world to see? Wouldn’t He be wondering, "Why are these billions of people sitting for hours only to watch them unashamedly?" Who knows He may be looking for someone among us who would shut off of those TVs?"
Many of the Western comedies are nothing more than immorality in the guise of fun! Free sex, extramarital relationships, marriages of emotion and lust, quick and easy divorce, exchange of partners and much more are propagated in the pretext that they are part of modern lives and accepted by the society. If they are not influencing the life-style of today’s couples, then why are we seeing these in real lives of people among us? But who will speak up or act against this canker spread for profit to the whole world by the ‘so-called Christian West? May God help us!
Modern day News Papers and Magazines
Today’s magazines and even news papers are making news more ‘juicy’ and pictures more ‘sexy’ to attract a sex- crazy people for mere gain! You cannot live without them and neither can you live with them and have pure hearts and thoughts! I am talking about men who are ‘men’ whether they are sinners or saints! Maybe it is time that our Church leaders caution our believers and they begin to be proactive against such vices in our own lives and our society. Let the society see our lives and notice our stand and imitate our life style instead of us becoming copycats of the world!
Fellow believers, especially the younger generation, I plead with you ‘let your passion be to see God’ and then you will be driven to keep your hearts pure in an impure world! Let the people see God in us and be attracted to us and through us to Him!