February 9, Tuesday

8Editor’s Note:  The AMI QT devotionals from February 8 to 14 are co-written by the AMI Teaching Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) and Joshua Chang, a graduate of Swarthmore College and currently a student at Yale Divinity School. They are taking a break from the study of Acts.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Proverbs 7:21-2

With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

9I’m ashamed to admit this, but I once saw a movie with an absurd amount of violence and foul language.  After it was over, however, I felt strongly defiled—scenes of gore were now flashing through my head, curse words now seemed on the tip of my tongue. I realized I couldn’t watch a movie like that again—it prods me on a path I do not want to follow.  The movie portrayed itself as harmless fun; it taught no official doctrine explicitly against Christ.  But its ethic was one of glorified violence and vile speech, and I could feel it setting my heart on the ways of the world and not of God.  I felt like “an ox going to the slaughter.”

While we need to be engaged in the world, we must shield our hearts from becoming desensitized and corrupted, or as Paul puts it, “destroy” those teachings and influences of the world that severely weaken the health of our relationship with Christ. We must live by the standards of Christ and not the standards of man.

As an example, consider an issue that many Christians end up mimicking what pundits say because it sounds so loving.  Concerning the current Syrian refugee crisis, some critics have said or implied that those who don’t want Syrian refugees to enter the USA say so because they are bigoted/racist.  The issue here is not whether the government should let them in (they probably should) or whether they are bigots (there are). The problem is that this is an unfair judgment to make on those who disagree: how do these critics know that everyone who wants to drastically limit the number of Syrian refugees is racist?—on what basis? How would the critics like to be judged in the same manner: “Oh, you disagree with me? You are hateful and immoral.” This is one of the spirits of the world: it does not judge by the standards of Christ but the standards of man, marked by a vicious judgmental attitude (Matt. 7:2).

We cannot let this kind of speech creep into our Christian community: Our talk, our thinking, our hope, our love, our social justice, our very lives are ruled by Christ and no other!  We serve the Lord Jesus Christ!   So, instead, “come now, let us reason together” (Is. 1:18).

Prayer: God, thank You for giving me the mind so that I can think.  But I must confess that I have become complacent and haven’t done much to challenge my mind.  O Spirit, prod me to feel the urgency to develop my mind; help me to change my reading habit; discipline me so that I can read your Word consistently and change. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 38

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Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Cor. 1:10, 12: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. . .. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

1 Cor. 3:1, 3-4: Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. . ..  3For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?

Question to Consider

  1. There are many ways through which we can act like the world: watching gory and meaningless movies that, in effect, mock our faith; judging people mercilessly just because they disagree with my view.  What is the worldliness that concerns Paul here?
  2. In what sense do we do the same as those who said, “I follow Paul; I follow Apollos; I follow Cephas (Peter)”?
  3. That being said, what is the key to breaking away from this sort of disunity that makes us worldly, mere infants in Christ?

Notes

  1. The worldliness that concerns Paul here is envy and jealousy among the brothers that create disunity among them. It is ironic since these people all claim to follow, not some movie or sports stars, but important Christian leaders.  Regardless, the apostle calls them mere infants.
  2. We do the same when Christians fight among themselves over theology and doctrines, often, classifying ourselves as loyal followers of the founder of these teachings. Some people seem to care more about what Calvin or Wesley wrote than what the inspired writers of the Scripture wrote.
  3. The key is being reminded that it is Christ who died for us, not Calvin, Luther, or Paul. While we can have a dialogue over our differences, we should do so without envy and jealousy.  To do so to the point of fracturing the Body is being worldly and carnal.

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Evening Reflection

Did you have any meaningful dialogue with someone today?  Did you have a disagreement?  How did you handle it?  How can we distinguish ourselves as followers of Christ when we speak to people at work or school regarding anything, especially important issues?  Two things are more important than others: well-thought out convictions, as well as grace.  Paul says, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6).

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