Written by Samuel D. James |
Saturday, November 18, 2023
We tend to think that everything should be immediately available because that’s how things are online. And so we kind of develop this impatience with regular life, which tends to be delayed and not as instantly gratifying as we might wish. We tend to view things through the lens of convenience and efficiency rather than the difficulty of maybe making a phone call or having a face-to-face conversation. As we are immersing ourselves in online technology, it becomes very difficult to imagine the world in a different way.
A Mental World vs. Physical Reality
When we think about being online a lot—and the average person is online a lot—there are statistics that say that we’re checking email for anywhere from three to four hours per day. And we’re on social media for about that same length of time every day. So that is a solid eight hours or so of online consumption.
And so when you ask, How could that be shaping us? Well, the real answer is, How could it not be shaping us? This is where we are putting our attention. This is where we’re doing most of our reading, most of our work, most of our communication, and even things like digitally mediated worship.
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By Hans Boersma — 2 years ago
Fear may be powerful, but courage is called for all the same. During a pandemic, we are to keep our eye on the soul, for pandemics can harm the soul even more than the body. Perhaps more than anything, we need to recover a sense of horror at a culture that allows our fears to trump every sense of obligation to the dead, the sick, and the elderly.
I’ve often wondered how medieval Christians dealt with the plague, and how it compares to the way we deal with the coronavirus today. The three volumes of Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter, set in 14th-century Norway, don’t answer the question. This is a historical novel, not description of fact. Still, the way Undset imagines medieval Christians responded to the plague is instructive and moving.
The high point of the novel, I think, is the last few chapters, which depict Kristin traveling to take up religious life in Rein Abbey near Trondheim in Trøndelag, halfway up the coast in Norway (some spoilers to follow). Shortly after her arrival, the plague breaks out. Undset’s descriptions of both fear and courage brought tears to my eyes.
I have long thought our reactions to COVID to be mostly cowardly. We have left elderly people isolated for months on end in long-term care facilities; we have let them languish and die there. Many of our elderly parents must have wished they were dead already, to avoid being left to die alone in their old-age hovels. Our hospitals have refused family access to people with COVID. Priests were unable—and sadly, often unwilling—to visit the sick. Many died without last rites or final prayers with loved ones and pastors, because we were too cowardly to allow visitation. We even denied people dying with COVID decent funerals for fear we might catch it ourselves.
So far, I have read few reflections on our moral failings—as individuals, as pastors, and as policymakers. We seem to think that fear of risk, no matter how minimal, always and necessarily carries its own justification.
Here’s how Kristin Lavransdatter ends. One of her sons, Skule, is visiting the abbey where his old mother has settled. Kristin overhears him talking with the abbey’s priest, Sira Eiliv. Skule explains to Sira Eiliv that one of his seamen died when his ship put in at the wharf. Kristin realizes what this means and utters “a little involuntary cry of fear.” Skule then admits to her that five of his men have already died. Kristin suggests that he should stay in town rather than go back to his ship. But Skule recognizes this won’t make a difference. “Oh, I think soon it won’t matter where I am. It’s useless to be frightened; fearful men are half dead already. But if only I was as old as you are, Mother.” Skule refuses to cave in to fear, while at the same time lamenting his short life.
Two weeks later, two fishermen come to the convent, carrying a dying man in a sail. “The lay sisters and servingwomen all had fled into the buildings, but the nuns—a flock of trembling, terrified, and bewildered old women—were clustered near the door to the convent hall.” Despite the fear spreading through the abbey, the abbess herself knows what’s demanded by her faith.
By Mike Ratliff — 6 months ago
It is not one that is produced via a man devised program. It is one that is the fruit of becoming a living sacrifice in which God develops the mind of Christ via his plan of mind renewal. I know that any Christian maturity that I possess is the work of God, by His grace, according to His will. I am only a δοῦλος of the Κύριον ᾿Ιησοῦν Χριστόν. Remember no one on their own path or the path of the enemy is on the path of true Biblical Transformation.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may approve what the will of God is, that which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 (LSB)
Despite the fact that the unregenerate refuse to accept what I am about to say as being true, it does not change the fact that it is the truth. The true Christian walk is one of faith that results in faithfulness while the counterfeit or false Christian walk is one of works righteousness that results in a pragmatic form of religious works meant to counter failures of the flesh. The true Christian will be on a path of continual, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness that will result in God using him or her in doing His good works (Ephesians 2:10). On the other hand, the false Christian, not being regenerate, may still be fooled by their religiosity into believing that he or she is on that narrow path. They may even zealously do good works and call that a transformed life, but it is still nothing more than works righteousness. The enemy of men’s souls has produced a counterfeit version of Christian Transformation, but it is totally different and only produces temporal fruit while genuine Christian Transformation produces fruit that is eternal.
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Here is that passage in Greek:
2 καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον. Romans 12:2 (NA28)
Notice that it is impossible for a Christian to be both conformed to this world and to be in the process of being transformed by the renewal of his or her mind at the same time. The Greek word translated here as “conformed” is συσχηματίζεσθε, which means to “be fashioned together.” However, Paul preceded it in this passage with the word μὴ, which mean “not,” therefore, we are being told to not be fashioned or conformed to this world or αἰῶνι, which could also be translated as “age,” and I think that is good way to understand what Paul is talking about here. If a person is fashioned together with this present age then he or she is not of God. He or she is not regenerate.
By Ben Zornes — 2 months ago
This simple meal of bread and wine which we eat and drink is a death knell to Death. It is a war trumpet declaring a decisive victory over Satan. It is a flag being raised to assert the dominion of King Jesus. He bled and died for this world & so it is His.
You are feasting on eschatological glory. This is no empty tradition. This is majesty. This is triumph. This is our victory, even our faith. All this being the case, it would be utter folly to simply partake in ignorance or unbelief. This is why Paul attaches warnings to his instructions about partaking of this meal unworthily.
To feast here in unbelief is to transform this blessing into a grievous curse. As we eat this we collectively proclaim the glad tidings of Christ’s total and sovereign reign over all things. Cherishing beloved sins, hiding your unbelief, scorning the Word of conviction which preaching reveals, are all ways in which you can go through the motions of this feast & yet eat unworthily.