Gnosticism and the 21st Century

As I have explored the depths of the New Testament book of Colossians and prepared to teach on it on Sunday mornings I am amazed at how similar the society of the first century is to the society of the twenty-first century.

The threat of Gnosticism that attempted to rewrite the truth about God and Jesus in the first century is alive and active just as much so, or more so, today.

Gnosticism is a belief system that is built on the concept that spiritual truth is not absolute but constantly changing. And the source of such truth is not found in the time tested words of the Bible, but comes from within our own selves.

The Gnostic-Jesus, a website devoted to the “explanation of the Gnostic path of Christianity revolving around direct experience and looking within one’s self,” says, “When you come to know yourselves… you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty.” This reflects the Gnostic concept that self-consciousness of one’s own divinity is the first step to salvation or “enlightenment”. Gnosticism teaches that “god” is in you and that “god” is in everything and that enlightenment comes through discovering and responding to the “god” within.

Perhaps the best known “Gnostic” writer of our day is Eckhart Tolle. His latest book is A New Earth. Since Oprah Winfrey added the book to her book club list it has sold nearly four million copies. Oprah is also offering a weekly web cast that explains in more detail the teachings of the book and how to apply them to your life. Seven hundred thousand people have signed up for the free web cast. On her daily XM station Oprah is having the teachings of twentieth century Gnosticism taught for 365 straight days.

With these concepts and beliefs being so openly pushed on our society I am curious as to what kind of affect it is having. What are you seeing? What are you hearing? How are you seeing it shape people’s thinking and actions. What are the cautions you would offer. What are the dangers you see coming?

Please feel free to share them with our readers. Just click on “add a comment” and share your feelings, perspectives or observations.

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Free Yard Sale

After considering all the suggestions and input on what to use our free business space for, that I wrote about a couple blogs back, we have pretty much settled on a gigantic yard sale. On a given week donated items will be collected from anyone who would like to contribute. Then volunteers will sort and ready the items. Followed by the biggest yard sale you have ever seen.

Here is the shocker. When people come to the yard sale, pick out their items and go to the payment table, they will be informed that it is free. It is all free. It is our gift to them, and no matter how much they insist on paying for it we are not there to make money. We are there to connect with and bless the community in some real way.

We’re talking totally free yard sale. And the more valuable the item we give to them the greater the positive shock factor. We want to shock the bajeebies out of them with our unexpected generosity. After all, Jesus did say, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Even though there might have been a little effort in acquiring we want to freely give it away.

We will post a big sign on the street that just says something like “Gigantic Yard Sale” and invite them in.

What do you think? Do you think this is a workable idea? What problems do you foresee? What benefits do you think it will bring. What are your thoughts?

The only downer at the current time is that it will be a few months before the space is available to us. The good part is that it gives you some lead time to identify and set aside the items you might like to contribute.

God keeps His word

A couple days ago I received this email from someone who was at our BLING-onomic$ series in February.

(Click this link for audio access to BLING-onomic$ http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57)

I just had to share it with you because it is a tremendous confirmation and kudos of some of the core concepts discussed in the series. I love to hear real life stories of how God keeps His word.

“I wanted to share a tithing story with you, feel free to share it with whomever you think it would encourage. I have always tithed 10% of my income since I have had a job and have never regretted it. I know that God promises to bless us for this, and I feel He has, but have never realized to what extent until today. I bought a house this year and so between that and tithing I saved several thousand dollars on my taxes. . . enough that I am getting some back instead of owing A LOT! Also, last week it came up in conversation at work that we could ask to not have our lunch time deducted from our pay if we didn’t have a lunch break. Well, I have never had a lunch break as the career that I am in does not really warrant leaving for 30 minutes. So, I brought this up and the fact that I wasn’t aware of the ability to not have that money deducted and they decided to give me all of my lunch break pay back for the last 6 months! Such a huge financial blessing for me! Anyway, adding up that money, plus what I saved in taxes, plus what I am getting back in taxes and it equals almost the exact amount that I spent in tithing and other support of ministries last year! God really does bless us for tithing and giving and will give us back more in return that we gave to Him. . .because not only do I get my money back, but I also get the blessing of knowing how much I have contributed to His Kingdom. . . 100 fold!”
Anyone else have a story to tell of God’s faithfulness?