A caller into the daily “Buzz” section of our newspaper this past Sunday stated, “I was taught you don’t eavesdrop on others’ conversations, but rude, self-serving cell phone users make that impossible.” I think what prompted that “buzzer” to say such a thing is that they caught me jotting down those very same verbal exchanges! After all, since cell phone users ARE including me in their conversations, I don’t think they will mind me writing down little snippets of what they are saying. Besides, if it is important enough to talk about from the stall in a ladies room it MUST be a topic important for us to discuss on my blog. See what you think…
“Was she married??!!”
“O M G!!!”
“And then SHE said…”
“Well, thanks for talking me through my ‘moment.”
“I can’t BELIEVE she….”
“Yeah, I had a break so I thought I would call…”
(this one took place in the bathroom stall)
“Noooah, what I SAID was….”
“Yeah, and what did SHE say??”
“S h u t u p!!!”
“Girl! What have YOU been up to?”
“Whassupp?? What are you guys doin?”
I’ve come to believe that cell phones are shifting from their original purpose -a communication tool- toward a more narcissistic function; microphone. Suffice to say I have yet to hear a conversation that ranks as significant.
One such topic that I think could stand a bit more airtime is our sin (since I am talking about mine, YOU should be talking about YOURS!) Not corporate sin, as in “the sinfulness of man,” or “original sin,” or even “sins of the flesh.” No, rather the sin that is a “vast moral disease which affects the whole human race, of every rank and class and name and nation and people and tongue…a disease from which there never was but one born of woman that was free.” (Ryle) Amazing that a topic so utterly pervasive is rarely discussed.
For instance, how many times in the past week did you discuss your need for a better prayer life? How about improved quiet time? When was the last time you asked someone to keep you accountable to a spiritual discipline in which you faltered? What was the topic of the last conference you attended? Or the one you can’t wait to go to? Of all these noble Christian-life activities offered to those of us who desire to grow in the faith, JC Ryle says he is convinced “that the first step towards attaining a higher standard of holiness is to realize more fully the amazing sinfulness of sin.”
And still we are mum.
Perhaps Ryle can help us begin a conversation. Hear his words, remind yourself he is speaking to believers in the 19th century, and schedule a phone call with a friend to discuss.
(I promise I won’t write down your conversation)
“I say then, in the first place, that a scriptural view of sin is one of the best antidotes to that vague, dim, misty, hazy kind of theology which is so painfully current in the present age. It is vain to shut our eyes to the fact that there is a vast quantity of so-called Christianity nowadays which you cannot declare positively unsound, but which, nevertheless, is not full measure, good weight and sixteen ounces to the pound. It is a Christianity in which there is undeniably ‘something about Christ and something about grace and something about faith and something about repentance and something about holiness,’ but it is not the real ‘thing as it is’ in the Bible. Things are out of place and out of proportion. As old Latimer would have said, it is a kind of mingle-mangle, and does no good. It neither exercises influence on daily conduct, nor comforts in life, nor gives peace in death; and those who hold it often awake too late to find that they have got nothing solid under their feet. Now I believe the likeliest way to cure and mend this defective kind of religion is to bring forward more prominently the old scriptural truth about the sinfulness of sin. People will never set their face decidedly towards heaven and live like pilgrims until they really feel that they are in danger of hell. Let us all try to revive the old teaching about sin in nurseries, in schools, in training colleges, in universities, on cell phones. Let us not forget that ‘the law is good if we use it lawfully’ and that ‘by the law is the knowledge of sin.’ (1 Tim 1:8; Rom 3:20, 7:7) Let us bring the law to the front and press it on men’s attention. Let us expound and beat out the Ten Commandments and show the length and breadth and depth and height of their requirements. This is the way of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount. We cannot do better than follow his plan. We may depend upon it, men will never come to Jesus and stay with Jesus and live for Jesus unless they really know why they are to come and what is their need. Those whom the Spirit draws to Jesus are those whom the Spirit has convinced of sin. Without thorough conviction of sin, men may seem to come to Jesus and follow Him for a season, but they will soon fall away and return to the world.” (Ryle, emphasis mine)