Sunday, January 10, 2010

Discernment, Cynicism and Childlike Faith

I began this post several weeks ago, but am just now returning to finish it. I was talking with a friend and co-worker around the first of December regarding Christmas music being played on the Christian radio stations. She is a relatively new Christian and was enjoying the exclusively Christmas format that begins every year on a particular station. We have a commercialized Contemporary Christian station here in Dallas whose format throughout the year, other than the music, is similar to the secular stations, complete with the overdosing on the self-promos. Even their Christmas music had a heavy rotation of Santa and generic holiday tunes. So, when she asked if I listen to this local station, I somewhat sarcastically replied, “only if I need a new car, insurance or whatever they’re advertising, or if I’m in the mood to listen to disc jockeys talking halfway through the songs”. She then made one of the most profound statements that I’ve heard in a while, “I guess I haven’t been a Christian long enough to become cynical yet!” I immediately replied that I wasn’t being cynical, just discerning.

Over the next few days, I kept thinking about this conversation, coming to the conclusion that she was right. I’ve been working on some articles regarding discernment when watching, listening to, or reading any Christian media short of the Holy Scriptures, and being overly sensitive to this subject, I crossed the line between discernment and cynicism with my comments. I also was reminded of two very good lessons that I’d like to pass along, actually three points, the first being that, as representatives of Christ, people are closely scrutinizing our words and actions.

The next point is that God’s truth is so overpowering, that it easily comes through despite the imperfection of the person or organization through which it is delivered. So while we should be discerning about methods, we should do so with gentleness and respect (1Pe 3:15, Jude 22). We should also rejoice that the Gospel is being advanced (Php 3:15-18), whether through imperfect radio stations or websites such as our own.

Finally, I am reminded that, after being a Christian for over forty years, how easy it is to get complacent and take God’s love and grace for granted. New Christians remind us of the childlike faith that we should always possess (Mk 10:15). A childlike faith allows us to trust in God’s Word without questions, but we often begin relying on our own abilities as we gain more knowledge. This is not to say that we should not grow in the faith. Refusing to grow is to have a childish faith, against which we are warned by the Apostle Paul (1Cor 13:11). By relying on God’s Word with a true childlike faith, we’ll continue to mature in the faith (1Cor 14:20, Heb 5:12-14).

If we follow these principles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we’ll never become complacent with the wonder of God. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lam 3:22-23 ESV).

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