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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Choose Your Environment!

Not too many times will we find that certain ideas, or 'notions' as my Great-grandmother would have said, put forth from professionals in the secular world agree with truths claimed by Christians.  Maybe I should rephrase that last bit to read something like, 'with truths that should be claimed by Christians.'  There, that's much better, don't you thing? 

If you've ever spent much time studying, or just reading maybe, about the 'professionals' thoughts and opinions in regards to the development of our childrens minds and personalities, then without a doubt you've come across terms and phrases like 'conditioning' and 'formative years' and 'positive environment' and 'negative environment' along with many others.  I believe that along with these terms, and the many, many more that we don't have nearly enough room to list, it's a well-established fact that the development of children's personalities and characters is affected in large by the environment(s) they are subjected to.  We're not going to get into a bunch of the gory details like 'socio-economic influences' and others. For the purpose of my rambling today, we'll be satisfied with the premise that humans are influenced by and in many ways, become one with, their environment.  Now let's take this to the next level, and by that I mean let's look at this secular statement as a Scriptural truth. 

'And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.'  (Hebrews 10:24-25    NKJV)

The author of Hebrews may not have been addressing the issues of conditioning or becoming one with your environment, but we have to note that the writer had some very specific reasons to '...not forsak[ing] the assembling of ourselves together...'   From the beginning of this piece of Scripture, we, as Christians, are told that for the purpose of 'stir[ring]'  up what is accepted as the most important instruction given to New Testament Believers, we need to not hinder this instruction in any way by not coming together with other Believers.  In other words, in order to fulfill this instruction, along with doing good works, we need to create an environment that we will become one with and are greatly influenced by.  That environment can not be created, sustained, or built upon except by and through God, Christ Jesus, and Fellow Believers.  I'm sure that like most of us, you may have been told by people that they didn't need to be in church to worship God, and that is very true.  But we have to understand exactly what the Biblical meaning of 'church' is.  If we go back just a bit into the Greek, which we know was the original language that most, if not all, of the New Testament was written in, we end up with the word that has been translated a vast majority of the time by most scholars into the english word 'church' that actually has a slightly different meaning.  While the difference may not be noticable in most cases, for our purpose here today we need to identify what I think I'll refer to as the 'suble differences' in an applied, or practical, meaning of the words 'church' and 'assembly.' 

Most of the time when someone uses or hears the word 'church' the mental image that pops to mind is a white building with a tall steeple set on top of a bell tower.  This image will have as it's backdrop a setting of large shade trees, and there might even be a slowly running creek at the edge of the property.  Now, just how close was I?  Come on, let's be honest, I pretty much nailed it, didn't I?  But let's use the word that more closely reveals not just the etymology of the [Greek] word loosely translated into the english word 'church' and see where that takes us.  According to [James] Strong, the [Greek] word 'ekklesia' does not have as an absolute meaning anything that comes anywhere near this mental image we were looking at just a minute ago.  In fact, Strong finishes his definition of this word translated into the English as 'church' with the statement that, "In the N.T. a church is never a building or meeting place."  He does note earlier that 'ekklesia' describes a 'church, congregation, assembly; a group of people gathered together.'  Let's follow this track and see what an examination of the more accurate meaning of our Greek word 'ekklesia' can tell us.  Ekklesia takes us to 'koinonia', which gives us the meaning, "Fellowship, the close association between persons, emphasizing what is common between them; by extension: participation, sharing, contribution, gift, the outcome of such close relationships: fellowship, communion, communicate, communication, contribution, distribution."  Do you see the meaning of the Greek 'koinonia', which has a literal meaning of 'fellowship' being displayed in the words of our Scripture from the book of Hebrews that we looked at earlier?  Tie that in with what the illustrious Mr. Strongs noted was the product, or end results, of this kind of church (ekklesia) or fellowship (koinonia), that being 'fellowship, communion, communicate, communication, contribution, distribution.'  To my way of thinking, which I do my best to keep consistent with God's Will with a lot of praying and communion, the end results of mans fellowship with man, as well as man's relationship with God, has to have as it's [Spiritual] focus these products listed by Strong. 

Okay, now lets tie up all of our loose ends.  We began by acknowledging that both secular man and Scripture agrees that the environment that man finds himself in, whether by design or coincidence, in large part determines who and what man is and will become.  Just as each of us has to make the conscious decision to come to the Throne of Grace and accept the blood of Christ as atonement for sin, so does each of us have to make the conscious decision to decide the who's, the what's, and the where's of our own individual environment(s).  No one can make any of these choices for us, and by that same token, no one except me is responsible for my decisions and no one except you is responsible for yours.  I know that it sounds pretty simple, just make a couple of choices and all will be good.  But I also know that making these choices, and then living these choices is anything but easy.  I take comfort that no matter how hard or inconvenient my choices to make may be, they are not nearly as difficult as a Fellow I've read about who lived His whole life based on a choice He had made, and knew that the final act of His choice would be to demonstrate the greatest [kind of] love any person can have for another.  If I look at it from His perspective, my choices don't really seem all that bad. 

How about your choices?  Have they been made?  Have you decided the who's and what's and where's of your environment? 

Be Blessed!

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