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December 7, 2005
Column #1,267

                                     "Think Like Jesus"

Each Christmas I try to suggest great Christmas gifts that draw people closer to Jesus, whose birthday Christians are celebrating.

Consider giving George Barna's book called "Think Like Jesus." However, this is not a book for Christmas-Easter Christians, but for the more committed.

According to Barna, an evangelical pollster, of America's 210 million adults, 175 million call themselves Christian, of whom 80 million are "born again Christians" who say they have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. However, Barna poses additional questions with disturbing answers.

Asked how they make moral choices, two out of ten do whatever feels right or comfortable in a given situation and a tenth do whatever they think will make others happy. Another tenth make moral choices based on what they think will produce the most beneficial outcome. Only six out of ten adhere to specific standards.

Of those, fewer than half cite the Bible as their source of "life lens principles." Two in ten lean on values taught by parents, while a tenth say their principles are based on feelings. Among those who decide right from wrong on the basis of Scripture, one out of five makes decisions on whatever feels right. Others rely on what will minimize conflict.

"Three out of four born-again Christians overlook the Bible as their shaping worldview influence," he writes. Of those who rely on biblical standards, half do not believe that moral truth is absolute.

Christians with a biblical worldview are nine times more likely than all other people to avoid pornography on the Internet and are four times more likely than other believers to boycott objectionable companies or products.

Barna's goal is to help Christians "think like Jesus." He does so with seven questions:

1. Does God exist? Interestingly, Barna acknowledges that Scripture does not present a "comprehensive, well-constructed argument regarding His existence," but assumes it. Nor is there irrefutable evidence of a spiritual being who is timeless, infinite and invisible. However 90 percent believe.

2. What is the character and nature of God? He is both spiritual and alive, and demands that we respond to him in some meaningful way. Barna confesses that this "is both disorienting and challenging" to many. However, God created us with the capacity to sense His presence, to communicate with and love Him, and be loved by Him. He is also holy, faithful and righteous.

3. How and why was the world created? Evolution argues life began with a single cell entity that became more complex with time. But that theory does not explain what triggered the process. Only God could have created a world with its incredible complexity, particularly humans who can grasp God's achievement, and respond with respect, praise and worship.

4. What is the nature and purpose of humanity? Deuteronomy 10:12-13 says we are to love God and obey Him, and we are called to love others, providing kindness, humility, mercy, patience and forgiveness. We are to seize every opportunity to be Christ-like. We are also to worship God. Barna even says "the authenticity of your love is proven by the breadth, frequency and intensity of your worship."

5. What happens after we die on earth? That depends on whether we accept Jesus "as our means to eternal peace with God, or we choose to be independent and suffer God's everlasting condemnation for our unresolved sinfulness." Each of us faces a raging battle for our soul. If we recognize that God sees good in us that we can't see in ourselves, our natural response is greater holiness, selflessness and worship.

6. What spiritual authorities exist? Our lives are a constant struggle between good and evil. The battle for our spiritual affections is a stealth war with invisible combatants: the army of God vs. the legions of Satan. If we choose to be on God's side, we will be guided by his Holy Spirit who will bring us new life, power, joy, inspiration, protection and love - while bringing our sins to our attention. Barna sees sexual temptations as the chief way Satan seduces people.

7. "What is truth?" Pilate asked of Jesus. Modernists believe all truth is relative, while Christians believe there are absolute moral truths. If there is no absolute moral truth, "there can be no such thing as right or wrong. Without right and wrong, the idea of sin is baseless," Barna asserts. The Bible defines truth.

Barna's book concludes Christians must study the Bible in order to live its principles, and churches must do a much better job teaching the biblical worldview.

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