Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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by Tom Goodman
August 4, 2010

Time magazine once reported that in South America many of the statues of St. Mary are carved with a removable Christ child.  A woman will make a request of the Virgin, then take away the baby and threaten not to return it until the wish is granted.  With other statues of saints, it is common to turn their face to the wall until a plea is answered.

Are we any different?  We can start seeing our faith as a tool to gain personal benefit.  We can start conducting our church work as if it involves nothing more than discovering the right formula or following the right procedure or conducting the right technique.  We can start regarding the matters of our faith in superstitious ways: thinking that tithing is some guarantee of financial security, or thinking that church attendance is some guarantee of earthly happiness, or thinking that carrying a Bible wards off harm.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that these earthly desires of ours need to give way to a much stronger desire:

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.  We are far too easily pleased.

What is the "holiday at sea" we're being invited to?  As the Presbyterians put it, we're meant "to glorify God and enjoy him forever."

In Acts 8, we see a man named Simon Magnus who offered money to the apostles to buy the ability to dispense the power of the Holy Spirit at will.  He saw the Christian faith as a means to gain personal benefit; he never sought out a loving and obedient relationship with the living God.

When I'm feeling badly, I go to my doctor and he examines me for symptoms of this sickness or that sickness.  Based on the symptoms, he can determine what illness I have.  Let's call the sickness of Simon Magnus "simon-itis."

This Sunday @ 10, we're going to identify the symptoms of simon-itis and examine our lives for any trace of the illness.  It's time we stop being satisfied with our "mud pies" and accept that invitation to the "holiday at sea"!


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