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New Year, Old Problems

Written by Karl Dahlfred on .

I’ve never been all that excited about New Year’s because the mere change of a date on the calendar doesn’t change anything that really matters. This morning, I went out to run an errand and when I stopped off to get a coffee, I saw a familiar motorcycle parked out in front of the coffee stand that hugged the curb. Coming around the car, I saw a guy from church that had stopped by to borrow our guitar the previous night. It was nine o’clock in the morning and there he was with a big bottle of beer, strumming the guitar and hanging out with his friend, the guy selling coffee. I don’t have anything against alcohol in general, given it is consumed in moderation and with appropriate consideration to who your company is. However, I KNOW that this guy has a drinking problem.

My initial impression of him, about a year or so ago, was that he is friendly fellow with a good head on his shoulders, and perhaps some potential for leadership in the church. That initial impression has proved to be inaccurate as it has become obvious that he has a drinking problem that doesn’t concern him as it should. On numerous occasions (especially after I haven’t seen him for a while), he tells me that he hasn’t forgotten about God and that he is still walking in God’s way, and doesn’t worship idols or get involved in witchcraft and so forth. He says, “Is drinking wrong? Yeah, it’s wrong. We all have our sins though, and nobody is perfect. I don’t lie. I’ve never lied to you. I don’t gossip. I don’t do this or that. I haven’t forgotten God.” On another occasion, he and I were chatting in our kitchen and I said in passing something about our lives changing as a result of knowing God. He replied, in a rather offhand way, “Oh, I don’t think my life has changed very much since becoming a Christian.”

All of this, and more, makes me very concerned for this brother in Christ, if indeed he is a brother in Christ. I sincerely hope that he has been converted through the power of the Holy Spirt, and not merely through human methodology which has succeeded in making him “church-ized” but not truly Christian. What I mean by “church-ized” is someone who knows how to do the church thing, and can talk the church talk, but whose life lacks that desire to know God, to live in holiness, to hate sin, and to love righteousness. I have told him of my concern for him, and have challenged his assumption that if he just gets married, then his drinking problem will go away because he won’t be lonely anymore. However, I can talk until I am blue in the face but nothing will change unless God works in his life and he wants to change. It pains me to see a man who claims to know God but whose life fails to reflect love for God and obedience to God. I don’t want to be too hasty and say that he is not a Christian since I do not know the heart, but the things that a person says and does often reflect the heart. And as of right now, this man’s life does not seem to be reflecting Christ.

How is God to be glorified and acknowledged as wonderful and mighty when those who bear the name “Christian” don’t live lives different than those around them? What motivation could anyone have to become a Christian if knowing God doesn’t make any difference in a person’s life? How am I to have any kind of credible witness about the power of God to change lives when those whom bear the name “Chrstian” and claim me as a friend don’t live lives honoring to God? How are people going to believe the Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins when Christians seem to be indifferent about sin?

This may be a new year but nothing has truly changed. Satan is still up to his old tricks, to kill, steal, and destroy. However, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8) and He has promised, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18). Despite how things look, I choose to take God at his word.

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