God is calling us to be different so we need to know how to be different, and there is only one place to look, the Bible. 'For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction ... steadfastness ... encouragement,' Paul writes. 'All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.'
As Christians we need to spend serious time with the Bible if we are to grow in our Christian lives. 'Christianity Explored' is a short course which will begin during November (details here>>.). Part of this course involves reading through the Gospel of Mark, the earliest life of Jesus that we have - this is but one opportunity to become more familiar with the Bible. Each of us as individuals have to decide that becoming familiar with the Bible is a priority for us. All Scripture is inspired by God - literally God breathed. Think about that for a moment. Scripture is God-breathed ... if we believe this, how can we not give it time and attention and take what it says seriously? And if we don't, what are we saying to God?
The selfish society
All thru' the day I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.
All thru' the night I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.
So sang the Beatles in 1970. Our consumer society is a selfish society at its very heart: 'Buy yourself a treat' the advertisers exhort us, 'please yourself.' Possession, they say, is 9/10ths of the Law. 'Money, get back, I'm all right, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.' Money, it's a hit. Don't give me that do goody good bullshit...' sang Pink Floyd. Modern culture says: 'Set your goals, follow your heart, if you want something, go for it, don't let others stand in your way.'
Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, call us to be radically different. 'Do not store up treasures for yourselves,' Jesus says, 'Love your enemies...turn the other cheek...do not worry about your life...seek first the kingdom of God.'
As the church, we collectively have a role to perform. We are to be a 'light to the world', and 'the salt of the earth.' John Stott entitled his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount 'Christian Counter-Culture.' In the introduction he said: 'No comment could be more hurtful to the Christian than to say: 'But you are no different from anyone else.'