For it is by grace you have been saved...

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Serious Lack of Discernment

“Don’t you realize those are the Sacred Hoops?” That was the response to my wearing what I thought was simply a beautifully beaded bolo tie. What I thought of as simple artistic design, the Sioux people saw as a symbol for the Indian “life-way,” bringing to mind images of the Ghost Dance, etc. The same was true for the intricately beaded watchband I picked up. What I saw as merely artwork, the Sioux saw as a representation of the water-bird, complete with all the religiously charged symbolism it contained.

For three years my wife and I lived on a Sioux Indian Reservation, pastoring a little church there. It didn’t take long for us to see that not everything is as innocent and benign as we might think. We soon learned that images and symbols run all through the Sioux worldview, and very little can truly be described as being religiously neutral. Everything had spiritual meaning.

At one point, confused over the line between culture and religion, I consulted an older Cherokee brother while at Indian Youth Camp. His response was this: “Hunting buffalo and living in teepees is culture; all the rest is religion.” What I came to realize is that I needed to be very careful about the things I bought, wore, etc. because to me they may be benign, but to the people I was ministering to it had spiritual significance. For me to ignore that showed a serious lack of discernment.

Here’s the point (aren’t you glad there is one?!) The Missouri Baptist Pathway newspaper recently carried a piece about the expansion of Hindu influence in our nation, seen especially in the fact that a Hindu prayer was offered in opening the US Senate this summer.

An addition to that article discussed the offering of Yoga classes at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO. “Yoga with Sarah” is seen as just another exercise class; but is it really so innocent?

That Pathway article even included a quote from a Hindu professor who explained that each of the postures in Yoga was designed to represent a spiritual truth. In his words, to separate the posture from the Hindu meaning “must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised.”

I’m having flashbacks of watchbands and bolo ties. Things are not always as spiritually neutral as we might think. We show a serious lack of discernment if we don’t realize this.

This is but the latest example of Christian people thinking that we can do what the world does with no consequence. This same issue of Pathway included articles on the Emergent Church with its use of alcohol, gambling, R-rated movies and religious inclusiveness all being used as “tools” to “reach people.”

It seems the modern church is suffering from a severe case of lack of discernment. I only pray that God will open our eyes to the truth and remind us that Jesus is the way, the only way, and that we truly need to reconsider what it means to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them” (2 Corinthians 6:17, ESV)

No comments: