We get vaccines to prevent infections. We wash our hands and use hand sanitizer to keep from spreading germs to ourselves or others. So what are the infections that Christians must guard against?
An echo-chamber is a world created in a bubble. It has its own look, feel, vibe, vocabulary, community, and shared purpose. There are political echo-chambers (Trumpism, Fox News, Right-wing media, and Bidonites, MSNBC, CNN, and their media machine). There are commercial echo-chambers run by large corporations to win allegiance from their consumers. There are racial subcultures, class subcultures, and cliques of all kinds. These echo-chambers reinforce feelings of fear, inadequacy, being slighted, etc. They offer a sense of belonging and identity. They promise to make you someone.
There is only one echo-chamber that Christians should belong to. That is the echo-chamber of faith, reinforced by our personal relationship with God, the Word of God, our faith rituals, and the fellowship with have with other saints. This is an eternal echo-chamber--the only one that will endure forever.
We are called to be in the world, but not of it. We are not to be worldly. This means that we are not to become part of any other echo-chamber. We are to stand aside, disconnect, keep our distance from all of these in order to remain faithful to Christ. Only then can we begin to present something of the Kingdom of God to others, inviting them to leave their echo-chamber, which offers life but cannot deliver, and join Christ's Kingdom, an echo-chamber of hope, love, and true identity. Oh, the riches that are ours in Christ!
Use the brain God gave you. I see so many Christians and others who are mindlessly going through life, swallowing every conspiracy and making themselves (and often God) look stupid. John Stott wrote a wonderful little book called, You Mind Matters. It showed with Scripture that Christians are called to be thinking people. Some Christians act as if God wants us to risk everything (even our lives and souls) on the slimmest of evidence possible. The less the evidence, the more the faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. God calls us to faith in Him, then He goes on to prove that He is there (the Bible), that He wants to be with us (Jesus), and that he values us (Jesus dying on the cross). All this happened in history. He is not hiding from us. What honors God is when we have better answers than those in the world. The Bible gives us a higher wisdom--God's. Jesus was never at a loss for words. He knew just what to say. So should we. Paul didn't give up his mind when he accepted Christ, he reasoned with it in God's service. Ask yourself what you think and believe. Then see if there is sufficient evidence to believe it. This will mean reading and listening to those who disagree with you. They might be right. If they are, follow truth. If you follow truth, you will always find God. Beware of those with agendas--who need your vote, or your money. People around you have opinions. They will challenge you. What do you think will raise your esteem in their eyes--if you shrug your shoulders and say, "I just believe it." Or if you can give real reasons backed up with facts for the things you believe? God gave you a brain and the answers. Use them!
The key to Bible Study: Some just don't get Bible study. Why study a book written over two thousand years ago? Is the book going to magically give me spiritual power? And, let's face it, the book is hard to understand. A lot of it just doesn't make much sense. After all, what do I have in common with people who lived in the first century?
The first thing we have do realize is that when we study the Bible we are reading someone else's mail. Imagine you moved into a new home and found a personal letter written to the former owners. It would be full of things you wouldn't understand. You're not part of their family, their relationships, their world. Same with the Bible. This is why it takes study to understand it. There are three parts to Bible study: 1. What does the text say? 2. What does the text mean? 3. What does this mean to me? All three are vital to powerful Bible study. The reason many people have trouble with Bible study is they stop at number 1. They read what the Bible says and then they stop. This is shallow and does not produce any effect in our lives. It is sustained only out of habit or duty. You will never fall in love with the Bible this way. The juice comes with numbers two and three. More about that later.
It is time to clear our heads and to realize that God has called us to be warriors. Too many Christians are taking for granted their faith--being lazy and thoughtless. Many act as if their faith, and their ultimate salvation, is a done deal. It is not. Read the book of Hebrews. Read 2 Peter. Read Jude. Many will say, "Lord, lord" in that terrible day and be turned away.
So what are we to do?
Give yourself completely to God--everything. Your time, your body, your mind, your life.
Study the Word every day. Go deeper and deeper. Make this your lifetime exercise. Once you know what the books say, read commentaries. Once you master this, study the Greek and Hebrew. Never stop. Believe me, you will never reach the end as long as you live. Why study? because we are training ourselves to have the mind of Christ.
Develop a devotional life of prayer and worship. Talk to God. Listen to Him.
Fight sin in yourself. Again, this is a life-long battle.
Be an example of Christ-likeness to all.
Study what the world is saying. You cannot reason with people unless you understand them.
Share the hope you have with all who will listen.
If you do these things, you will be a true warrior, one who will strike fear in the forces of evil around us. There is no higher calling for our lives.