The pagans of this world, God’s world, exist in a paradoxical relationship with the saints of the Old Testament, New Testament, and modern times. On occasion, far too rarely, the saints of God, the saved, the elect, act like they are suppose to and truly outshine the pagans of the world, which they are suppose to do all the time. But the scorecard of the saints in this regard is not impressive and is unlikely to change since many current “Christian leaders” that possess the pulpits and TV ministries of the USA only ridicule the idea that God might remember, by name, those who deserted their posts in his service and failed to show up for his work in this world. Moreover, since the conviction of the early Protestant Reformers about the necessity of transformed lives has often been lost on their later namesakes, the poor performance of the elect often goes unnoticed or, if observed, swept under the carpet.
It is really pretty simple to highlight the pervasiveness of egregious sin in the current Christian community, it is like the idiomatic “shooting fish in a barrel.” In this post, however, I want to point out a few episodes where the Lord himself tells the elect that their pagan neighbors sometimes score higher on the “RQ” (Religious Quotient) exam than the saints do. Of course IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient), and SQ (Social Quotient) can be very important, but they are all mere rubbish if the saints cannot first pass the RQ exam.
Question 01 Should a religion keep changing the god/s it worships?
Pagans answer-No, how stupid would that be!! (Jer. 2:9-12)
Saints answer–Yes, if it is politically helpful or you lack courage as a nation.
Correct Answer NO! Pagans 1; Saints 0
Question 02 Should a religious community allow sexual perversion like incest?
Pagan answer-No, even we pagans know better than that!! (1 Cor. 5:1)
Saints answer-Well, maybe; sure, why not? Yes.
Correct Answer NO! Pagans 2; Saints 0
Question 03 Should Christians ever tell the truth about how corrupt the surrounding culture is?
Pagan answer-Yes, if your fellow citizens are “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons,” then it is fine to say so occasionally. (Titus 1:12)
Saints answer-No! What kind of backward, intolerant, misanthrope are you? You trying to run off ever possible visitor for the next 5 years? NO!
Correct Answer YES! Pagans 3; Saints 0
Let me leave you with a RQ challenge from the pagan world in which John lived. The famous Roman philosopher Seneca has been a favorite Roman philospher for many later Christian authors and theologians. John Calvin, for example, wrote his first published book on Seneca’s work entitled De Clementia rather than on a book of the Bible. In a letter to a friend who was a Roman governor Seneca warns about how desensitized and cruel one can become by watching activities that promote such. Seneca becomes transparent and admits how unhealthy his thinking becomes after visiting the arena during gladiator combat. In Letter 7 to his friend Lucilius Junior he writes,
But nothing is so damaging to good character as the habit of lounging at the games; for then it is that vice steals subtly upon one through the avenue of pleasure. What do you think I mean? I mean that I come home more greedy, more ambitious, more voluptuous, and even more cruel and inhuman . . . .
Hardly a surprise that Seneca feels this way when he sits with others at the games who enjoy the murder and cruelty. While humans are being butchered, they shout,
“Kill him! Lash him! Burn him; Why does he meet the sword in so cowardly a way? Why does he strike so feebly? . . . Whip him to meet his wounds! Let them receive blow for blow, with chests bare and exposed to the stroke!”
And when the games stop for the intermission, Seneca continues, they announce: “A little throatcutting in the meantime, so that there may still be something going on!”
Compared to some contemporary believers whose TV and movie diets expose them to every conceivable evil, inhumanity, and perversion on the planet, Seneca’s aversion to viewing brutality might just give him a higher RQ score than some modern Christians would get.