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Q: What are the most evasive Christian and worldly “enemies with smiling faces”?

Donald Posterski: Enemies with smiling faces catch us off guard. They are deceptive. They make promises they can’t keep. And they eventually inflict their pain on us.  For followers of Jesus, ”quick-fix faith” is an example of an enemy with a smiling face. We live in a culture that entices us with instant gratification, but that form of faith is fraudulent. Another enemy to put on our alert list is “depreciating the image of God.” Regardless of what people believe or how they behave, everyone has a Godgiven capacity for goodness. So if we conclude that only Christians can be virtuous, we have been duped.

Q: What is one-sided faith? Explain why it is an enemy with a smiling face.

Donald: The gospel equation has more than one dimension. The Great Command invites us to love both God and our neighbors. Regrettably, the churches we participate in often deal with only one part of the equation. We get an overdose either of faith that emphasizes the importance of our personal relationship with Christ or of faith that emphasizes the importance of social action and justice-related matters. The fortunate fact is that the gospel is so potent, so dynamic that even half of the gospel equation enhances and alters our lives. However, the tragedy is that we get cheated. Instead of experiencing the wholeness and fullness of life in Christ, we either indulge ourselves in our personal experience of faith or we run the risk of spending ourselves into spiritual emptiness.

Q: What is affluenza, and what are the dangers of it?

Donald: It’s pretty difficult to live in North America and escape the sickness of lusting for more money. And that’s just one expression of affluenza. One of the mysteries of life for me is the power of money. Why is enough never enough? When I’m hungry, I have a good meal and my hunger for food goes away. Why isn’t the hunger for money more like that? So, money is an enemy with a smiling face. We need to watch out for things like consumerism without generosity, work without sabbaths, and wealth for the sake of wealth. Unless we can keep the power of money in check we’ll lose our freedom.

Q: Why is it so important for us to learn how to relate to and live among these enemies?

Donald: One of the challenges we face in this bewildering world of ours is learning to share our cultural space with people who are different from us. So we have a choice—we can live sheltered and insulated lives or we can venture out and encounter life beyond ourselves. We can default to self-interest and cuddle up to like-minded people or we can cross some of our existing boundaries. My fear is that without deliberate intervention, life shrinks. I’m not wanting to turn life into a joyless endurance test that discounts the role of self-interest, but surely in pursuit of our best selves, we can make room for others and relate to them without always needing to be right.