Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists - Minds of Futility
Standing in the Buddhist temple in Hong Kong my heart broke for the hundreds of people who sought favor from their gods through endless offerings of food and prayer wheels, and fortune telling. And standing in the Grand Mosque observing Muslims staying off their god's wrath and currying favor through the repetition of the five pillars of Islam, I felt a sense of grief. Even the endless striving of modern atheistic science to find purpose and meaning in the cosmos is a sad reminder of a lost world without God.
As Christians we have been brought into the light. We see clearly the wrath and grace of God. We understand that we can not achieve His mercy, and apart from His compassion we too would be lost. The danger is to forget the truth of God and fall back into patterns of futility.
Patterns of the futile mind are a matter of perspective, the worldview we develop over time. When we first come to Christ someone has helped us see our sinful condition before a Holy God, and that without faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus we are lost in our sin and without hope. We gratefully submit our will to His love and grace knowing that we are incapable of pleasing Him without Jesus.
Then we are taught the disciplines of the faith that will deepen our relationship with God and make Him happy with us. God loves us more if we go to church, read our bibles, pray, and give money. We don't want to disappoint God so we strive to become better church goers, memorize the bible, pray harder and give more money. We exchange the truth of God's blessing into a formula for God's acceptance. Guilt is our motivator not love.
Often we think of the world's futile mind as their false understanding of God or science or philosophy, but their warped knowledge of these is not what is futile. Rather their striving to find answers to life through their own efforts is what makes it futile. More offerings, repetitious prayers, and the accumulation of knowledge will not bring them happiness let alone into a relationship with God. We can never do enough to bring any more pleasure to God then what he has for us through Christ.
So, why go to church, why pray, why read our bibles and give offerings? Because they are disciplines that help us better understand who God is, His love, His justice, His Holiness, His wrath, His mercy, His compassion, and His forgiveness. Yes, God wants our obedience, but not as a means to find favor, rather as an act of love and appreciation for all He has done.
When the world strives to find God through endless works they only perpetuate the alienation of darkness and futility. When Christians turn the good things of God into tools of ingratiation we are walking according to the futility of the Gentiles.
I don't have to go to church, I get to.
I don't have to read my bible, it is a privilege.
I don't have to pray, it is an opportunity to meet God.
I don't have to give, it is an act of appreciation.
I don't have to serve, it is a way to show God's love.
I don't have to do anything for God to love and accept me, Jesus already did it.
I'm just saying...
Eph. 4:17, 18 "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart."