In part one of “Not of This World,” I discussed how we were created to live in a perfect world, but sin destroyed that existence. Now, people strive to attain it in many different ways. Constantly going after it because there is an inner drive in us to live “there.”
Some of the approaches people take, to grasp that utopia, may even be outwardly focused on others, with great intentions, and the result may be good. Likewise, there is nothing wrong with enjoying ourselves. But eventually, neither of these provide lasting fulfillment, joy and/or peace. There always has to be another “fix.”
So what in this world are we to do? Allow me to touch on each of the 6 subject matters I wrote about in my previous blog, “Not of This World, Part 1.” It got a little long…grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate 🙂
1) Jesus has become the Mediator between us and God. There is no true life without Him. He needs to not be a PART of our lives….He needs to BE our lives. When we try to make Him only a part, we tend to have areas we seal off from His loving care, discipline and direction. Perhaps we like to hold onto them, or are afraid of what it will require of us to give over to Him. But the truth is, when He becomes our life….He gives life. And although everything else becomes peripheral, there is peace in our hearts. Most of us are familiar with what Jesus said in John 10:10, ” I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” But sometimes we neglect the first part of that verse, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”
Since the beginning of time the thief (Satan) has been trying to destroy everyone he can. People, families, churches, everything and everyone in his path. And he will use whatever proverbial carrot he can….and make it look really good. Pleasure, entertainment, health and fitness, relaxation, greener grass…all of it. When these things become our gods, idols or even aspirations, he has won, and it leads only to destruction…eventually.
I know this seems harsh. You might be thinking, “Are you telling me I can’t enjoy anything this life has to offer?” Absolutely not. It’s just when we view it through the eyes of our Loving Creator, when we put Him first in all of it…it is so much better and leads to life. When we O.D. on the creation, it becomes an idol and can get in the way of our worship of God and service to Him and others. It will only take us down, because nothing we can see will last. If nothing else, we will eventually die. Then what?
Devastating are the effects of sin. God is not a kill-joy. He knows what makes us tick, and He knows what brings us true and lasting joy and peace…and life.
I know these concepts are not new, but I see more and more of some form of idol worship going on in our society and the horrific consequences of unbridled sin.
2) Relationships with others. This is a tough one. Unlike our relationship with God, in which He provided a desire and way to be forgiven and healed…when we’re dealing with other people, much depends on their will. We may be completely willing to reconcile, forgive, love and restore relationships. But if they are not…it can cause great pain and disillusionment.
We have been and are there now with people. It hurts and can go on for days, months and even years. And, unless you’ve been seriously rejected by someone you want to love or by whom you want to be loved, it’s difficult to understand this anguish.
This is when we must back up to our priority….resting in God’s love and grace. After we have done all we know to do to restore a relationship, there remains only one safe place…in the precious, loving, gracious arms of Jesus Christ. You are precious to Him. Others may disdain you, but He loves you with a dying love…That’s right a love that died for you. And in that….we find His undying love.
And in that….we are able to continue loving them, whether we feel like it or not. But quite honestly, I do not see a way in Scripture that Christians can ignore, disparage others or reject others and be in the will of God. It’s simply not possible.
3) Created to live…If you’ve read much of my writing, or know me at all, you have heard me write about the fact that I have lost, to death, my family of origin. It created an orphan hole within me. Not only have they left this earth, their deaths were not pretty, as if any are. My brother passed away much too young at the age of 48 to the horrible disease of cancer. A 6 foot, 3 inch athlete build, his body was ravaged and reduced to 93 lbs. My dad developed Alzheimer’s and after a fall, rapidly went down hill. A few years later, my mom gave up and decided to quit eating and drinking. Four months later she was gone.
God is life. He created life and sustains it. One of the consequences of sin is earthly death. But I love the fact that not only did He defeat death, He took away the FEAR of death. We know that God has removed the sting of death, and we look forward to our eternal homes. But many people fear their own deaths, being paralyzed by this fear. The writer of Hebrews tells us that death has been rendered powerless, but God goes even one step further. He has freed us from the FEAR of death. Death is the unknown and because most of us like to have our ducks in a row, we don’t like that. But it’s ok….we can rest in the fact that Jesus has indeed been there and risen to life. He has been in the grave and is on the other side!!! We do not have to fear it anymore.
I was released from that fear years ago. I had a very unhealthy dread of death, thinking about it constantly with great anxiety. God, in His loving mercy, spoke to me one night and said, “The body you’re living in will die, but YOU, the person you are, will keep on living.”
We are told to set our minds on things above in Colossians 3 and, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also wil be revealed with Him in glory!”
4) Aging happens. I really tried to think of a nicer way to put it, but there really isn’t one. 🙂 Probably the most profound thing that can be said about this is: Take care of yourself, exercise, eat right and deal with it! My mother-in-law was perhaps the most balanced person concerning getting older and when it came time to go to heaven, she was ready.
Having said that, I do think it’s sad that age is not respected in our society. Go anywhere else on the planet, pretty much, and grey hair is a natural respect feature. The older we get, we are treated like we’re out of touch and worthless. I’m starting to feel this even in my 50’s! I have a dear friend who was extremely involved in churches all her life until her Pastor husband suddenly died. Now, in her 80’s, she goes to church, does her own ministry on the side, but is never asked for wisdom. That is sad.
Families should not be “putting away” their aged parents. I set aside much of what I wanted to do when caring for my mom. I also cared for my Dad for a very short time, which brought about much healing.
We are told to HONOR our parents. It’s that simple. We are told to treat our mothers and fathers in the faith with respect and honor. Let us honor God by doing this.
5) Live a contented lifestyle. Years ago, when our boys were little, we went into debt for tires. I hated it. We vowed to get out of debt and try to stay there. We had used furniture, used cars, used clothes most of our lives while raising our boys. God blessed us with some very fun times. We were a close family. And looking back, I realize it never mattered what material possessions we had, we had each other…we had God.
But more than just being content, we need to counter this with being generous…on every level. Generosity is the anecdote to living dissatisfied materially.
6) AH…my nemesis – loneliness. My loneliness has caused me to seek God more than ever in my life. Thus, I will thank God for it. He has met me in the deepest of lonely valleys. He is very near, when others are not. It doesn’t give people an excuse not to care about us, but ultimately, only God can be with us 24/7
We will never attain the Garden of Eden before sin entered. It’s simply not possible. There will always be the hungry, underprivileged, abused, imprisoned, sinful lifestyles, disappointments and more among us. We cannot solve everyone’s problems, pain and hurt. We can barely live with our own sometimes. Even when we become Christians, life is not perfect.
There is only ONE Who can meet the deepest of our needs, whether it be spiritual, emotional, physical or material necessity. He has promised to forgive our sins and be near the broken-hearted. He has promised to provide for those who trust Him. He has promised a new body in a new heaven and a new earth. He has promised to bless our generosity. He has promised to give us strength and power in return for our faith. HE IS GOD AND HE IS GOOD!