Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18).
Adam Adkisson, a Home Depot employee in Bellevue, Tennessee, recently noticed a small envelope in aisle 22. When he picked it up, he discovered it was packed with $700 in cash. He could have kept the money and presumably no one would have been the wiser. Instead, he contacted a manager named Alissa Rocchi, who made a post about the envelope on Facebook.
A person responded, describing the envelope in detail and confirming that the money belonged to his business partner. The owner was grateful to get his money back since he planned to use it to buy Christmas gifts for his children.
Rocchi explained why she and Adkisson responded to the lost money as they did: “One of [Home Depot’s] core values says to do the right thing. That is just us living our core values.”
Imagine how different our society would be if everyone agreed.
How many Americans believe in heaven and hell?
For decades now, we have been living in a “post-truth” culture. The claim that all truth claims are personal and subjective is known academically as “relativism.” It is inherently illogical, of course: to claim there are no objective truths is to make an objective truth claim. It’s like saying, “It’s a fact that there are no such things as facts.”
Nonetheless, the delusion that reality must conform to our opinions is pervasive and exceedingly dangerous today. For example, a recent study found that only 61 percent of Americans believe in the existence of heaven and hell. What’s more, only half of those who think hell exists believe it will be a place of suffering.
Of course, I can deny the existence of the Washington Monument, but that doesn’t make the Washington Monument less real. Such spiritual relativism is one of Satan’s subtlest strategies. If he can lure us into viewing eternal realities through the prism of our personal beliefs, by the time we discover how tragically wrong we were, it will be too late.
The philosophical theologian John Hick illustrated this theme with a parable: two men are on a journey, one a Christian and one a skeptic. The Christian is convinced that their road will lead to the Holy City, while the skeptic is convinced it will lead nowhere significant.
The two men travel together for many days. Across their journey, they encounter times of sunshine and times of rain, days when hiking is easy and days when it is difficult. All the while, the believer is certain that he is headed to his eternal reward, and the skeptic is certain that he is going nowhere important.
Finally, the two come to the last bend in the road and one is right while the other is wrong.
A friend’s thoughtful email
Today’s discussion was prompted by an insightful email I received from a dear friend in response to yesterday’s Daily Article. I noted in my column that Cambridge Dictionary has altered its definitions of the words man and woman so that they can refer to people who were born with a different sex than the identity they now claim.
My friend asked, “In larger scale, what is the relevance of a dictionary if its editors can change definitions based on their personal subjective truth? What will we do when different dictionaries offer conflicting definitions? Which student’s answer is correct on the test? And has the time come for something akin to a Christian dictionary?”
If words can mean anything we want them to mean, we cannot have speed limits or traffic laws. If your “north” is different from my “north,” we cannot have a map that works for us both. Of course, the nonsense of such a worldview is intuitively obvious. This is why relativists only exercise relativism when it benefits them personally.
People who have decided there is no such thing as heaven or hell are people who don’t want to live with the fact that their beliefs and actions in this world have eternal consequences in the next. Heterosexuals who support same-sex marriage in the name of “tolerance” want that same tolerance extended to them when they make unbiblical choices of their own.
A conversation with an Iranian server
My wife and I were eating dinner in San Antonio recently when we got into a conversation with our server. He told us that he had immigrated to our country from Iran because of the persecution he faced there over his Christian beliefs.
I asked him if he had been treated well in America, hoping that his Iranian ethnicity had not caused difficulties for him in our country. He understood my question to refer instead to his faith and responded, “Everything is easy in America because no one here cares about your religion.”
Of course, Someone does.
Consider God’s prophetic warning: “I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lᴏʀᴅ will not do good, nor will he do ill’” (Zephaniah 1:12). By contrast, God assures his people, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
Consider these two verses in the context of Christmas: A loving father cannot give his children presents that will harm them. Conversely, he cannot give them good gifts they are not close enough to him to receive.
“Living our core values”
If you reject the relativism of our day and choose to live by the inspired, authoritative word of God, you will position yourself to experience and to share your Father’s best. And, as with the Home Depot employees in Tennessee, our confused culture will take notice of such sacrificial character.
Their example prompts a question appropriate for every follower of Jesus: Are you “living our core values” today?