“Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 10 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

March 11, 2009 at 5:45 am Leave a comment

castle-1I saw a headline this past Monday that captured my attention:  “More Americans Say They Have No Religion.”  The article that I read went on to talk about how more and more Americans are claiming to be areligious.    A survey conducted by Trinity College in Hartford, CT found that a full 15% of Americans claim to be areligious, up from 14.2% in 2001, and 8.2% in 1990.  What I found especially fascinating about this survey, however, was not just the bare and alarming numbers, it was the fact that this survey tabulated people who were areligious rather than atheistic.  In other words, there are some people in this category who are probably indeed rigorously atheistic.  They have a thought out, reasoned out disbelief in God.  They are intellectually hostile toward him.  Others in this category of areligiosity, however, are not necessarily logically or intellectually hostile to God, they simply do not care about him.  They do not care to worship him, think about him, give thanks to him, discover him, or love him.  For these people, God’s existence is a mere fringe relic on the outskirts of their consciousness.  Other things are more important.

Interestingly, these findings parallel those of another survey from April 2007, this one conducted by the Gallup organization, as to why people do not attend church.  This study was divided into two sections.  One section surveyed the “practical” or “thought-out” reasons why people do not attend church.  The number one reason for not attending church in this category was a strong disagreement with organized religious teaching.  The other category gave “practical” or “default” reasons why people do not attend church.  The number one reason given in this category was, quite mundanely, that people do not have time.  In other words, like those who are areligious, those who do not attend church fall into two categories:  those who are actively and academically hostile toward the worship of God and those who simply do not care.  For this latter group, the worship of God is a mere fringe relic on the outskirts of their consciousness.  Other things are more important.

In our reading for today from 2 Corinthians 10, Paul addresses how we, as Christians, should care for those who either intellectually oppose or flippantly dismiss God: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (verses 4-5).  Here we find our two categories of those who eschew religious engagement:  “arguments” and “pretension.”  The Greek word for “arguments” is logismos, meaning “reasoning.”  These are those who stand in reasoned, albeit incorrect, opposition to God.  The Greek word for “pretension” is hupsoma, meaning “lofty thing.”  This word describes those things which we elevate to a more privileged position in our schedules and calendars than God.

Paul says, “We demolish these strongholds.”  That sounds harsh.  Do we really want the wrecking ball of the gospel flung at our intellectual critiques of God or our important appointments in place of God?  Paul’s answer is, “Yes.”  But why?  “So that we can take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  The reason we demolish the strongholds of academic argument and passive pretension is so that those who don’t think about Christ will start thinking about Christ and so that those who don’t care about Christ will start caring about Christ.  In other words, Paul reminds us that, by God’s grace and by the strength of his Spirit, a study by Trinity College and a survey by Gallup need not forecast of the foreboding future of Christ-followers in our world.  The trend can be reversed!  And we are God’s agents of reversal!

Do you know someone who is an atheist or strongly disagrees with “organized religion?”  Ask them to tell you more about why they believe what they believe and then compassionately and sensitively share with them your faith.  And begin to demolish a stronghold.  Do you know someone who does not care about God or never has enough time to go to church?  Invite them to church this weekend.  And if they refuse due to a scheduling conflict, invite them to accompany you next weekend.  And begin to demolish a stronghold.  For when the strongholds of this world are demolished by our witness, that is when the message of Christ’s love, Christ’s grace, and Christ’s salvation can take a strong-hold on a human heart.  And that’s a stronghold we can all rejoice in.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 9 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 2 Corinthians 11 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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