Fifteen Refusals (and Affirmations) for 2008
Fifteen Refusals for 2008
In good curmudgeonly fashion, I will forgo the tradition of resolutions for 2007. Instead, I offer refusals, negations, denials. I soon turn 51 after the beginning of the year, so these refusals are born out of the gravity of aging and the thirst to make the most of the time God gives us in this vaporous life. But with every refusal comes an "instead," or an affirmation. Every true curmudgeon (in the sense defined and, I hope, illustrated on this blog) denies only because he is utterly enthralled by the transcendent Ideal, the divine Yes.
1. I refuse to waste time on trivia: that means 95% of popular culture. Instead, I will center on study, teaching, preaching, praying, writing, and mentoring.
2. I refuse to accept the anti-intellectualism (and even misology) of American evangelicalism. Instead I will teach, preach, and write in ways that demand concentration; I will write what ignites the intellect; I will preach as deeply as I can and dare you to come with me.
3. I refuse to dumb down anything, anywhere, any time. Instead I will inspire people to rise to the occasion intellectually.
4. I refuse to join those Christians who seldom read or reflect on the Bible. Instead I will read it, reread it, study it, memorize it, recite it, and meditate on it. I will try to incorporate it increasingly into my thoughts and words.
5. I refuse to seek no more than "personal peace and affluence" (as Francis Schaeffer put it thirty years ago) for my life. Instead, I will contribute to Kingdom endeavors here and abroad.
6. I refuse to tolerate bad preaching, superficial books, or kitschy Christian culture (Precious Moments, Thomas Kinkaide, etc., ad nauseum). Instead I will seek out the best, praise it, and challenge underachievers to climb higher.
7. I refuse to ever play a video game. Instead, I will look for Kingdom opportunities in the land of the living.
8. I refuse to waste time on small talk. Instead, I will endeavor to make all my words count for eternity.
9. I refuse to speak in cliches or outworn adjectives ("awesome," "cool," "incredible," etc.). Instead I will try to find the right word for the right thought--or say nothing. "A wise person holds one's peace."
10. I refuse to pose. Instead, I will live.
11. I refuse to accept the de facto deism of so many evangelicals who do not seek God for supernatural manifestations of Christ's Kingdom (healing, signs and wonders). Instead, I will seek (but never presume upon) God's miraculous, supernatural presence in this dark world. See Matthew 6:33.
12. I refuse to confine the Kingdom of God to America. Instead, I will keep an eagle eye for ways I can bless, encourage, and edify Christ-followers around the world.
13. I refuse to consign Christian women to second-class status in the church, the home, or the world. Instead, I will support and encourage gifted women to serve God in accord with their gifts and opportunities.
14. I refuse to preach only to the choir, to limit my ministry to the church, Christian school, parachurch, Christian publications, and so on. Instead, I will in every way possible seek to inject Christian truth creatively and ethically into culture through my writing and teaching, in order to rationally present truths not normally found there. But in so doing, I will not impose inappropriately nor will I hector anyone.
15. I refuse to follow any trend simply because it is a trend. Instead, I will seek to discern the hand of God in the world. The world does not set the agenda for the church.
None of these ideals can be achieved in my own power: "Yet not I but Christ who lives in me." Join me in refusing the world, the flesh, and the devil and instead affirming Christ and his eternal kingdom, here, now, and forever.