[forthright] Naiveté, Cynicism & The Mission / The Secret of Fulfillment

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 2009 08:45:00 -0700 (PDT)
Forthright Magazine 
http://www.forthright.net 
Straight to the Cross

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COLUMN: HANDS-ON FAITH

Naiveté, Cynicism & The Mission
 by Barry Newton

In one of his parables Jesus had taught, "if they won't
listen to Moses and the prophets, then they will not be
persuaded even if someone rises from the dead."(Luke
16:31)

Stephen's preaching at the Synagogue of the Freedmen
could easily provide a case study. Not only had Jesus
been raised, but now the miracles Stephen performed
only further served to confirm his Christian message
which even by itself they were powerless to refute.

How did the members of the Synagogue respond? Did they
humbly submit to truth by following Jesus? No, these
people who claimed to follow God organized some liars
in order to rid themselves of an inconvenient message
and messenger.

Both Scripture and experience reveal the naiveté of
believing that if you can just make the truth clear
enough and present strong enough evidence that everyone
will choose to follow God and conform to his ways. This
being the case, should we react against such a lack of
sophistication by sinking into a cynicism repeating the
mantra, "So what's the point? Why even try?" Hardly!

Our eyes need to rise above the blindness of a mere
human-driven pragmatism to behold our world as it
really is. Sure there is evil which refuses to come to
the light. But there is also a powerful loving Creator,
who having taken us to be his own, has commissioned us
to spread the good news. Stephen was fulfilling his
purpose.

Although from a human perspective it might appear
Stephen lost because he ended up being executed, as a
faithful servant Stephen won as evidenced by his
exclamation, "I see heaven open and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God."(Acts 7:56) Jesus
personally welcomed him home, presumably with the
words, "Well done!"

There is a question more important than, "How many were
baptized?" Philippians 2:13 inspires the introspection,
"Have we allowed God to work through us for his
purposes?" While any given individual or group may not
embrace Jesus, God's word will not return to him empty.
Our purpose is to speak.

--
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COLUMN: REALITY CHECK

The Secret to Fulfillment
 by Stan Mitchell

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had
spoken by the prophet" (Matthew 1:22, ESV).

George changed jobs five times in five years. In that
period of time, he also attended college - twice! He
began and ended three romances, and affiliated himself
with a church in town, then a second, then a third.

What was wrong?

George was seeking "fulfillment." The jobs weren't
enjoyable. The romances didn't bring contentment. The
churches didn't "meet his needs."

For all I know, George is still out there fruitlessly
seeking fulfillment, like a kid wandering among the
treasures of a giant toy store.

Now we all want to be happy, and I understand that. A
good marriage brings profound satisfaction, and some
people are fortunate enough to find a job that they
love doing. And far be it from me to discourage your
involvement in a church!

Yet what George didn't appreciate was that it wasn't
all about him. Life is not about what makes us happy.
Life isn't even fundamentally about what makes other
people happy, though that is part of the process.

Life is about what makes God happy, what pleases him.

That's what distinguishes Jesus' lifestyle so
distinctly from our own. His was a life dedicated to
fulfillment of God's good pleasure.

Oh, and by the way, you'll never guess what the by-
product of making God happy is.

You find fulfillment for yourself too!

----
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