Here are a few of the other questions that came in live via text over the last two weekends at Connexus. We'll take a crack at them, and I'd love to hear what you think….
Q. Pride prevents me from having a long term relationship with God. Is an amount of pride a good thing?
A. Wow. That's a great question, and a tough issue. Pride is a problem. You could argue it was at the heart of how humanity fell. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve thought they knew better than God, and sin entered the world. In a passage that many believe is about how Satan (who is first described as an angel of God) got cast out of heaven, the central issue is pride – he wanted to put himself in God's place.
Jesus was so hard on pride – he said over and over again that God will humble the proud and lift up the humble. One of the best known proverbs in the bible is that pride goes before a fall.
I can think of nothing good that Bible says about pride, largely I think, because pride seeks to put ourselves about others and resists the relationship others (including God) want us to have. If you are proud, you can't submit to anyone. So you can't submit to God.
Humility is attractive in other people – pride repels people.
What to do? Turn from your pride. Submit to Christ, and ask Him to fill you with what is good. Read Romans 12 again. It's full of counsel on humility, Christ and how to view and see others.
Q. What if we are already married and unequally yoked?
A. "Unequally yoked" is a phrase people use to describe what happens when people are spiritually mismatched in a marriage (usually that one is a Christian and the other is not). It comes from this passage, which is actually not about marriage, but about relationships in general.
The good news is that I don't have to answer this question because the Bible answers it with incredible clarity in 1 Corinthians 7. That chapter is a virtual text book on why to marry, how to marry, who you should marry, what happens if you are married to a non-Christian and more. Enjoy!
Q. Is it God's will for me to donate to Connexus?
A. Well, let's take Connexus out of it and simply say this: yes, it's God's will for you to give. Check this text out, and consider Paul's advice to thieves to stop stealing and make enough money not just to provide for themselves, but to make enough to give to others.
The tithe is an Old Testament concept that essentially says that God allows us to live off 90% of what he gives us and expects us to give 10% back to him. It's quite explicit. In the New Testament, generosity was a benchmark of faith. The New Testament says we should use the money we have to do good, not to spend it all on ourselves.
In fact, there are so many references in the Bible to giving, sharing, investing in the Kingdom of God and providing for those in need, that it's impossible to ignore the fact that the money God gave us is not intended only for our use. It's His, and He wants us to use it for his purpose.
Connexus is part of the Kingdom. Personally, the vast majority of my giving goes to Connexus (about 99%) because I believe we are making a difference for the Kingdom in Central Ontario and beyond. But even if Connexus didn't exist, I would still have a need to give and give generously to the local church.
Q Is there a basic principle that can be applied to help us determine what is from God and what is not?
A. Love that question! Yes. There are two.
It is from God if it is consistent with scripture. I know that means you have to read the Bible. But 15 minutes of Bible reading a day can change your life. And don't just read with a view to gathering information, read with a view toward application – how can I apply this to my life?
When the Bible isn't clear, try this: everything that does not come from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23). The Bible doesn't speak with clarity on every subject. There will be grey areas. Consumption of alcohol is a great example. The Bible is against drunkenness in any form. But whether you can have an occasional drink is widely seen as a matter of conscience. Some Christians say you should never drink, others see frequent references to the use of alcohol in the Bible. So, what do you do? When it comes to matters of conscience like this, follow Romans 14:23 – if you cannot in good conscience drink alcohol before God, don't do it – it is sin. If you can drink in moderation with a clean conscience before God, it is not sin for you.
A few notes about this principle: first, in matters of alcohol, beware of family history, addictive personality tendencies and when in doubt, don't. And second, this is NOT a test for situations where the Bible is clear. If you are thinking of having an affair and it seems "right" to you – don't. It isn't right to God. If you are thinking of 'telling someone off', don't. The Bible speaks against it. Don't use it to justify sin when the Bible is clear what sin is, but when the scripture is not clear, the passage has helped me many times.
Great questions! Thanks for the chance to respond….love to hear your thoughts!