How are biblical stories different from ancient myths? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. And this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. We'd love to hear from you. And you can call us anytime. In fact, you can leave us a voicemail as well. Here's our phone number. It's 833-The-Bible.
That's 1-833-843-2673. You can also email us your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com. First up today, let's go to Cindy calling in from St. Louis, Missouri.
Cindy, what's your question for Adriel? Thank you for having my call. I recently have started attending a church, medium-sized, I would say. Wanted to do a fresh start. I hadn't been attending for a while. So I've been attending for a while. I found this church close by.
So I've been going for quite a bit. We were at a service, my husband and I were at a service, and there was a lady there that I did not know attended that, that her and I have a not-so-good history. She was an office manager for a place that I worked for.
She was actually the reason that I left. So to see her at that church was kind of shocking. She turned around and looked at me and said, well, what are you doing at this church? So it took me off guard and I just stood there for a minute.
Not the warmest welcome, Cindy. No, that bothered me. And then I said, well, are you a member here? And she hesitated, said yes, and then said we work in a nursery. And so I just let that go. I actually sit there in my pew and pray very hard for God to remove any of this so I could worship and focus on why I was there, which was not her. It was to focus on the word. And so now I'm struggling with, oh, no, how am I going to go and avoid this person?
There are two services. Which one? She attends. So now I'm struggling with that. I need help on how to get through that.
That is very distracting. It can make it really hard for us to set our eyes on Jesus, to glean from and learn from the sermons because we're thinking about this other person that's sitting in the pew next to us. And so one strategy, and you sort of alluded to it, how am I going to avoid this person? That's what sometimes we do, is what we just try to avoid. That's not what we ought to do or pursue as Christians. I think first and foremost, within the body of Christ, we want to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation. It's what we're called to in the New Testament.
It sounds like she realized, even from the way she greeted you, that there was some tension. You feel that tension. My encouragement to you would be, one, realize that in and through Christ, as forgiven sinners, what we have through baptism, through faith in Jesus Christ, is stronger than ever. And deeper than the relational conflicts that oftentimes come in between that, get in the way of our lives and of our worship. What I'm saying is, what you have in Christ ought to bring the two of you together, the forgiveness of sins. Now, when we have these kinds of relational conflicts, the gospel, the grace of God, helps us to work through those things. How you feel, having a conversation, saying, look, I want to worship here, and I want to focus on the Lord, but I know that you're a Christian, and I know that there's something between us right now, and I want to put it on the table and work through it in a way that honors the Lord and makes it so that it's not awkward, so that when we're worshiping in the same church, we're not distracted, but we're able to greet each other with love, to pray for each other, and encourage each other. In the Lord, instead of trying to avoid each other, we are Christians, we're in the body of Christ, and so I would encourage you, Cindy, to have that conversation, to think about, okay, well, what was it that this person that she did that offended me?
In what ways did she sin against me? And to go to your sister and to bring those things up. And in fact, that's what Jesus himself tells us to do in the gospel of Matthew, to go to them. And to bring it up. And my prayer would be that she would be able to open up and ask for forgiveness, or maybe she shares, well, here's something that I think that you did, but these are conversations that I think we ought to have as followers of Christ.
And again, it's easier in one sense to avoid it, but if you avoid it, it'll make it really hard for you to worship the Lord with a clear conscience there and just feeling the freedom to be able to do that. And so let me just follow up with you, Cindy. Do you think that that's something that you could do is have that conversation with her, maybe say, hey, can we get together for coffee or something like that? It's possible. I think I would have to do a lot of praying beforehand. Right now, my nerves are on edge.
Well, you know what? Let me pray for you too. And let me invite all of our listeners, Cindy, to pray for you.
And I know that there are others listening right now who are in a similar situation. And so let's pray and ask the Lord for grace, for peace, and for that gift of reconciliation that we want to see in the local church. Father, I pray for Cindy. Thank you, Jesus, that she's back in church, that she's worshiping you, that she wants to draw near to you. And God, I believe that you're teaching her something in and through this situation, through this difficulty, through this trial, the discomfort that's there. I pray that you would use these circumstances to strengthen her faith in you, to give her a deeper love for your people and for your church. And I pray, Lord, that you would give an open door here for these two sisters in the Lord to be able to sit down with humility, with grace, with honesty, Lord, not dismissing the hurt and the pain that's been caused, but bringing it to the table and being able to extend and receive forgiveness. And I pray, Lord, that you would just do the work that only you can do. Fill her with your peace. Grant in this situation, Lord, healing and reconciliation. And I pray for Cindy that she would just continue to worship there and to do so, Lord, unhindered by the shackles of this relational hurt, that you would free her of those and that you would bless her as she seeks to follow you in Jesus' name. Amen.
Amen. Just a follow-up question for you, Adriel, with Cindy's situation. Let's say she goes to this woman and the woman says, there's no problem, or the problem is all you. How does Cindy then respond? Well, you hope that there's humility and there's compassion, but sometimes that just isn't the case.
And that's a lot of times why our nerves can be on edge as we just expect the worst when we think about having a conversation like this. We are always called to forgive, but reconciliation requires repentance. It requires the other person who's sinned against us to realize what they've done and to be honest and to confess.
And so my encouragement would be for Cindy to forgive from her heart and to be free in that sense and to pursue reconciliation as a Christian. We're called to pursue that, but if this other person is unwilling to own up to maybe the ways in which they've sinned, that makes reconciliation very, very difficult. And depending on the sin in question, sometimes when it's something really serious, well, then you go to Jesus when he talks about the situation of churches. You go to others.
Bring others in on this and have a bigger discussion about this, trying to address the sin that's not being repented of. And so there's that line. I think also of what Paul said to the Corinthians. You remember the Corinthians were having relational conflicts within the church to the degree that they were suing each other. I mean, they're taking each other to court and suing each other. That's how messy things had gotten. And Paul says, look, you guys can't agree.
And this is just an absolute disaster. And at some point, Paul says, just accept the fact that you've been wronged. It doesn't mean that you don't forgive. You do forgive. And we do pursue reconciliation.
We do pursue justice, but sometimes an individual is unwilling to budge at all. And if you've done everything that you can to pursue that, I think you can have a clear conscience. And maybe it's at that point, even if the other person doesn't come around, that you feel set free to worship the Lord. And I've seen this happen in the church before where maybe one individual is unwilling to be open and honest and to ask for forgiveness. And the other person said, I've done everything that I can, and I'm able to worship the Lord with a clear conscience. But the other individual is still clinging to whatever the bitterness is.
I mean, that's a real problem. And so those are some different approaches, Bill. And may God give Cindy wisdom as she seeks what's best for her in this situation. Some really good counsel. Thank you for that, Adriel and Cindy. We'll continue to pray for you in that whole situation there. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you're always welcome to leave us a voicemail. Here's our number, 833-THE-CORE.
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Well, we do receive voicemails here at Core Christianity, and here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Sean. My question is that I'm taking a history class, and in that history class I learned about early civilizations, and one of the things that they're teaching in the books is that the inspiration behind creation and creation stories is the culture of Mesopotamia, and the creation stories have been inspired by the Mesopotamian culture like the epics of Gilgamesh. My question is, is this true? Are the stories in the epics of Gilgamesh and the creation the same, or are they different? Thank you so much.
Love this question. Brief answer, no, they're not the same. In fact, they're totally different in many different ways.
Let me just give you one resource really quickly that you can look up and purchase online. It's a book called The Unfolding Word, The Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation, written by Zach Keel. The reason I bring it up is because early on, especially as he's talking about the book of Genesis, he highlights some of these other creation accounts that were around in the ancient Near East, and he unpacks how different they were from the biblical account, what we see in Genesis. In fact, one thing that many scholars will say, and I agree with this, is that the Genesis account really chastises these other accounts.
It's written as a polemic against the pagan ideologies and religions of the day, highlighting how the true God is unlike those quote-unquote deities of the world in every way. For example, in many of the ancient Near Eastern creation myths, you have the world created out of this sort of cosmic conflict, this dualism, this battle between good and evil, and out of that comes, through this conflict, the creation of the world. This is something you see in a lot of different creation myths. The Bible is so different. The Bible says, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
In other words, he's alone. It's not the forces of good and evil fighting against each other and creation happening by accident or something like that. No, this is God, the self-existent one, the Lord of all, making from nothing all that is. Genesis is highlighting the fact that there's no one, nothing on God's level, that he is the Lord. What's so interesting also is in many of these ancient Near Eastern creation myths, mankind, humanity, is created as a sort of slave to the gods, a really low view of mankind, a very low view of humanity, who is sort of made to entertain the gods or to work and to be enslaved for the gods. What does Genesis say? Mankind was created in the image of God, called to rule, if you will, in his likeness. Mankind is depicted in the early chapters of Genesis as the kings and queens of the created world, the pinnacle of God's creation. The Genesis account gives us a very high view of man as created in the image of God. And so many of the ways that Genesis speaks are fundamentally different from and contradict even these other ancient Near Eastern creation myths. And it's important for us to understand that, to truly understand really also what Genesis is getting at in the early chapters, as it's calling people to worship the true God, calling us, even today, to worship the true God who made all things from nothing. He's all powerful and who made us in his image, such a beautiful thing. And so I appreciate that question. Again, if you want to go deeper, get that book, The Unfolding Word, by Zach Keel.
Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. You can email us your question about doctrine or theology or maybe what's going on in your life. We have a question about how your faith intersects with today's culture. Here's our email address. It's questions at core Christianity dot com. Just the word questions at core Christianity dot com.
Here's an email from one of our listeners named Hazel and Adriel. She says, is it sinful to be rich or is it sinful to want to be wealthy? This is a great question. Well, just to the question, is it sinful to be rich?
I would say no. I mean, the Apostle Paul says in First Timothy, chapter six, verse 17, As for the rich in this present age, charge them, here's what you need to do if you're rich, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and to be ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. In other words, you might be rich in the sense that you have a lot of money, but are you really rich is what Paul is saying here. Are you rich in good works? Are you rich in charity, in sharing what God has given you to enjoy with the people around you? That's what he calls them to. He doesn't say, for the rich in this present world, they just need to repent because riches are evil or having money is evil.
No, it's not. It's our heart. Our hearts so often take things that are neutral, things that aren't inherently evil, and we worship those things.
We put our hope in those things. If in your pursuit of money, of riches, and I think the Bible does give us warnings throughout here, and Paul to Timothy also gives some warnings related to this, just the consuming nature of that. For somebody who says, I just really want to be rich, I would have some serious questions there and maybe some challenges, some heart-probing questions. We want to be careful there, but to say that just being rich is a sin, that's not true.
Nor is it true that somebody who has a lot of money is necessarily greedy. Some of the most generous people I know are people who the Lord has blessed significantly monetarily and who love to give and love to share. It's such a wonderful thing, and it's a blessing for the kingdom of God. I think that that's what we need to really ask ourselves. What is my relationship to these things, to money? Is this something that I'm putting my hope in, that I'm looking to give me what only God can give me, to satisfy my soul? Am I chasing after it in a way that's unhealthy, where I'm putting it before my family, where I'm putting it before God? Or do I receive it as a gift and a tool that God gives for the furtherance of His kingdom?
That's a question you have to ask yourself, and as you do, may God give you wisdom. That's some great counsel, Adriel. We have three teenagers at home, and one of our teenagers tends to like to earn a lot of money. Over Christmas, we actually referred to her as Ebenezer Scrooge, which I'm not sure that was the best choice of words. They don't like to share, huh? I'm going to have that conversation with her because that's really well said. And Paul certainly does address that very clearly in his writings, so thank you for that. This is core Christianity with, yeah. I was just going to say, Bill, can I add, it's so interesting how often Jesus talked about money and possessions. You think about the parables that He gave, the warnings He gave in places like the Sermon on the Mount.
You can't serve God and riches. Jesus realized that where our treasure is, that's where our heart will be also. And so that's why oftentimes the way we think about money and possessions is a window into our hearts, our spirituality, if you will. Is this something that we worship, that we cling to? And so I think it's important for us to take Jesus's teachings very seriously about these things because it gives some serious warnings, and especially in societies like ours that tend to have more affluence. We can just sort of overlook those warnings that Jesus gave. And again, they're not saying that money or riches are inherently bad, but what are we doing with them?
How is our heart attached to these things? I think we need to heed Jesus's warnings throughout the scriptures and pray that the Lord opens our eyes and our hearts so that we honor Him with everything that we have, including the money that He gives us. Good word. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. You can feel free to call us with your question anytime and leave us a voicemail. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.
That's 1-833-843-2673. Here's a voicemail from Jill calling in from Mississippi. My question is, as Christians, since we disagree with transgender ideology, how do we go about when somebody close to us or a co-worker wants to be called by a different gender than what they actually are? I was just wondering this.
Thank you. Yeah, such a relevant question. I get this question from individuals in my church who are working in places where this is a really big thing. Here's my view.
I know that there are differences of opinion on this even among Christians, but here's my view. One, I would say there is so much delusion out there with regard to sexuality and gender, and I don't think that we should embrace any of it. I don't think that we should say, well, look, this is just what people want and how people think. We need to just sort of embrace that.
No, I don't think so. There's a lie that's embedded in all of this that's doing such harm, so much harm to people, even to young children. We need to stand up against the lie, brothers and sisters. We can't just sort of pretend like everything's okay or go along with it. That's the first thing that I would say, but in our not going along with it, I think we also want to make sure that we're not intentionally trying to stir things up.
I think sometimes Christians can, as they think about this question, just say, well, I'm going to take a stand, and then they can act in ways that are very cruel and mean and that are also unhelpful. I think we want to engage each other with charity while standing boldly for the truth and pursuing the grace of God in everyone's life, including our co-workers. God bless. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833, the CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
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