The USA today is made up of Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and INDIVIDUALISM. I was talking to my friend, Jim Hocking who heads the ministry ICDI earlier in the week. ICDI's ministry is to drill wells in Africa for water in locations where people do not have access to clean water (BTW - it is a great ministry to invest a few dollars regularly!). Jim told me that when he brings his African friends here to the USA one of their questions is why do Americans drive cars alone! They cannot imagine why people would not be sharing rides, going out of their way to drop off friends or want to spend time with others while driving.
This individualism spills out of materialism and into our faith. We like to choose when we want to be the church (or go to a church to get together), how deeply we want to be involved or which areas of the Bible we want to obey. This individualism begins to creep into how we live. When it does unhealth is sure to follow.
There are many passages in the New Testament that urge us to live in a way that honors our relationship with Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 is like many others in the New Testament epistles (letters), "Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God...that you excel still more." How we live or walk out our faith is important to Jesus.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:8 Paul writes these words, "...for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord." Somehow Paul's faith and life was impacted positively when those he loved followed Jesus on Jesus' terms and not their own convenient terms. Is it possible to stand firm in the Lord and live with another person intimately before you are married? Is drinking too much alcohol a way to show that you are standing firm in the Lord? Can we stand firm in the Lord and spend our money all on ourselves and not be generous and follow the heart of God with our resources? When we don't take the time to spend with Jesus in His Word, worship and prayer does that equal standing firm in Jesus?
It is NOT rare today for people who claim to love Jesus and follow Him with their lives to live together before marriage. It is NOT rare today for believers to justify the grace given to them to drink more alcohol than they ought. It is NOT rare today for those who go to church services weekly to buy the latest gadget, car or clothing and yet don't seriously consider what it means to be generous with the resources God has blessed them with. It is NOT rare for people agree with messages about living for Jesus on Sunday morning and yet do not pick up their Bibles to read, study and apply its' truths on a regular basis. These truths bother me. Do they bother you?