Fixing the world. How best to do that? (2)
In the previous article I discussed how the Bible gives us nine ethical criteria of human behaviour. These are given in Revelation 21:8. Based on these, I propose nine basic ethical measures that we can use to assess the competing worldviews and the behaviours they promote.
The nine ethical measuring scales are:
- Courage /cowardice
- Believing truth / disbelieving or ignoring truth
- Righteousness and justice / moral error and injustice
- Beauty and harmony in life / abominations and detestable actions
- Saving life / murder and violent unjustified attacks
- Faithful relationships of mutual upbuilding / sexual exploitation and cheating
- Health and wellbeing / drug dealing and addiction
- Truth based evaluation and worship / Idolising unworthy persons or objects
- Commitment to truth / commitment to the false.
The principle worldviews are those that have a universal mission: i.e. the worldviews have within them a mission to reach across the world to every person. These worldviews are: the Kingdom of God (authentic Biblical Christianity), Churchianity (church-focused Christianity that promotes the church organisation as more important than the relationships Christians have with people or God), Secular Humanism and all its offshoots such as Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, and lastly Islam in all its forms, but especially mainstream Islam as taught, for example, by Al Anzar University.
Starting with the Kingdom of God, the espoused ethical standards of the kingdom of God seem to all be at the left hand end (the good end) of these nine scales.
- Christians down the centuries have shown and continue to show extraordinary levels of courage in their commitment to the truth of Jesus being both human and divine. This is demonstrated in their endurance under persecution. Examples include the Christian martyrs in the Roman Empire, the protestant martyrs of the Reformation, the Christian martyrs in when threatened with death by invading Islamic armies and the continued river of martyrs due to Islamist violence today. Christ is the their example of courage, those who are “Looking away from things toward Jesus, the author and perfecter of the faith, who endured the cross in exchange-for the joy laying before him, having despised shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 MLV).
- The claim of the Kingdom of God is not that it is a nicely comforting belief, but rather that it is true. The claim truth makes on the hearts of people is that it challenges them to believe it, because it is worthy of belief, because it is true, not because it is convenient. Equally things demonstrated as false should not be believed. The argument made by secular humanism: ‘You have your faith and I have my reason’ is an entirely false one. Presumably none of the secularists actually believe in any of those things they hold to be true, then? Faith is a rational commitment to truth. Reason of itself does not lead to truth: it has to be based on evidential experience, which can often be quite counter-intuitive. Science regularly has disproved long-held viewpoints. Science has not disproved, but rather confirmed, Biblical truth time and time again, including the progress of Creation.
- The standard of righteousness and justice is Jesus Christ. In every culture, thoughtful people find it hard to fault Jesus of Nazareth in both his teachings and his actions. They may choose to ignore Him, pretend He never existed, or rationalise away the phenomenon that He is, but it is hard not to both admire His moral clarity and at the same time be challenged by Him. He has become the measure of right and wrong and the central authority for what wholesome human relationships look like. A world, in which human beings generally thought, spoke and acted as He did would be a very different world; indeed it would truly be fixed.
- There is something fundamentally attractive about Christ, so much so the outcasts and the vulnerable of society were drawn to him, in crowds, and still are. This was a man who was the very opposite of the abominable and the detestable: he was someone who people longed to get closer too. He was a friend of sinners and showed up the hollowness of much religion. He still does. His attractiveness did not lie in the fact that he compromised his message, but far more in the fact that he out lived his uncompromising message himself, remaining uncompromised. St. Paul spells out what is required: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be misled. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor paedophiles, nor homosexuals, nor the greedy, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. And some of you were these, but you were bathed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 MLV). God’s judgment does not fall on those who are merely tempted or attracted to do these things, it only falls on those who do them and do not turn back from them.
- If anyone was a Saviour, it was Jesus. And millions of Christians around the world by their lives and actions do the same today. Millions also engage in projects that save lives.
- The Biblical vision for human relationships is founded on the faithfulness of God’s relationship with us. God is a covenant keeping God. You know where you are with Him, for He does what He says He will do and does not break His word. So adultery and fornication, abuse, fraud and deception with intent to harm are all contrary to what God has told us and the example of Christ. While Christ demonstrated mercy to the sinner, He was also uncompromising in His command: “Do not sin again”.
- Jesus and his disciples were clean of addictions: drugs, over-eating, alcohol, smoking or khat. It is not that there was a prohibition on these substances; it was that they chose not to indulge in order to feel the high or the euphoria. St. Paul wrote: ‘Do not be drunken with wine, in which there is riotousness, but be filled with the Spirit.’ (Ephesians 5:18 MLV) Relationship with God and friendship with each other is what satisfies, not drug-induced feelings. That just leads to loss of control. In fact their lifestyles were inherently healthy ones, through work, travel (which involved a lot of walking), eating simply. The general principle is what St. Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? And you are not your own; for you were bought with a price. Glorify God in your body and in your spirit which is God’s!” (MLV) ‘Do you not know. . .’ implies this should be obvious, but many of us miss the obvious. The Old Testament Law, the Torah (literally ‘Teaching’) had many laws which we now know from science represent good practice for maintaining health and avoiding many diseases and parasites in that geographic region. We would do well to pay attention to them and use these as a template for our own situations and locations.
- There are many things that people place at the centre of their lives: God, religious idols, money, the opposite sex, themselves, Satan. But only one of these is worthy of our worship. Isaiah tells the story of a man who cuts a branch off a tree. Part of the branch he burns on a fire to warm himself. The other part he carves into a statue, bows down and worships it, telling this lump of wood it is his god. Where is the sense in that? The wood cannot see, hear or walk: it is just a lump of wood, best suited for firewood. But worse, the man has rejected the true and living God who can save him, teach him and make him more than he has ever been: make him a sovereign within the Kingdom of the King of Kings and a priest of the Almighty. Instead he bows down to the log. The Kingdom of God calls men to worship God alone: only He is worthy of our worship. As the first three of the Ten Commandments put it: “I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them, for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:2-7. Loving God and keeping His commandments lies at the heart of true worship. It is also the foundation of true freedom.
- The Kingdom of God is based on truth. Christianity is nothing if it is not an evidence-based religion, as is the Judaic religion. Commitment to the truth and rejection of the false is central to living in the Kingdom, and that extends to all parts of our lives. Scripture says: “Godis not a man, that he should lie, nor the son of man, that he should repent. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?”
(Numbers 23:19. WEB). The quotation reminds us how easily people lie. I have seen my children and grandchildren start to lie from the age of three onwards. We all lie at times, but we must learn and commit to honesty and truthfulness, as these are Godly qualities.
These are the qualities of people who are in the Kingdom of God. The biggest problem is that the numbers of people who follow these precepts seem few in number, while many espouse them but in fact fail. “For all have sinned and come-short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 MLV). This is a real problem.
However, when the Church sins and falls short and stays that way, the results are truly catastrophic. And that is the subject of our next article in this series. God bless you all,
President – Jesus Christ for Muslims