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Friday, July 19, 2013

Fearing the Influence of Faith?

As you were growing up you almost certainly had talks with your parents where they said, “I don’t want you hanging around with that boy,” or “I don’t want you to see you spending time with that girl.” That’s because most parents understand that children are impressionable and can’t always tell how they are being influenced. Parents understand that sometimes a young person can so want to be accepted that they will go along with things that otherwise they would not. Everyone knows what the phrase, “she or he fell in with the wrong crowd,” means and parents are on alert and praying that such a thing never need be said about their child.

Ideally as we mature we detect the influence others have on us. We learn that some bring out the best in us. These people encourage us, or make us think, or help us see that our viewpoints are wanted and needed, and so we find the courage to be ourselves. Others with whom we spend time either through their criticism, negativity, or just plain bad behavior, we find influence us to say, think, or do things that we later regret. On these insights, make decisions regarding whom we allow to get close enough to influence us.

I think there’s another kind of influence that people fear. Even some believers wonder if becoming a person of deep faith will make them strange, or weak, or in the other direction, judgmental; maybe even ruthless. Some think that perhaps following Jesus would be a good thing, but that following the God they see in the Old Testament would be a bad idea. Hence some questions:

"Is God portrayed differently in the New Testament and the Old Testament? If you get really serious about trusting God, will that make you passive, where you just sit around and wait for God to act for you? On the other hand, if you take all of the bible seriously, do you worry that it could make you like members of fanatic so called “churches” that speak openly of God hating certain groups of people?"

From one of the most well known stories in all of the Old Testament and perhaps one of the more difficult to explain, we will probe these questions as we explore the fall of Jericho from Joshua  5 & 6 as a part of the sermon series we are doing at Bethany Place on the book of Joshua called Reproducing Faith. The story of the fall of Jericho is recorded in Joshua 5:13-6:25 which you can read here.

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