Skip to main content

What? It isn't all about me?

There are commands in the scripture that are not 'optional' behaviors or attitudes. We are to embrace them as a way of life regardless of how we feel. Too many of us are reliant upon 'feelings-based' actions. If we feel like it, we do. If we don't feel the urge, we don't. Don't love the world's ways is not optional. Don't love the world's goods is also not optional. Neither of these commands are 'optional' or dependent on how we feel at the moment. We might want to gloss over these commands, but there is much value in considering them as guiding principles in our lives as the consequences of being too caught up in the ways of this world system or in seeking after what it offers carry some heavy burdens for us. When we are in love with this world and what it offers us, we isolate ourselves from God - although we may align with others in this world, isolation from him is just not good.

Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.  (I John 2:15-17)

What is the 'world' in scripture? In the plainest terms, it is that which sets itself against the ways of God. The idea is that of being in opposition to, or living in such a manner as to take one's focus off of grace and love of God. Don't love this world's system of doing things, or treating people, as the world spends so much time just focusing on self is really a means of helping us not be so 'me-focused'. The plain truth is laid out for us - the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure - those things that will please our 'self' while paying little attention to the things another needs. It offers us what will build our pride and what will fill our coffers. In the end, we are left empty - devoid of the connection with God that fills our spirit to overflowing. The world system teaches us that "our way" is the most important - we need to look out for #1 (us). God's way is contrary to this - look out for your brother, and then let me look out for you. 

The second command is to not love the world's goods - meaning we are not to be so consumed with getting everything we see, amassing to ourselves great storehouses of physical wealth and "things" that will eventually deteriorate, break, and be of no value in the end. Craving attention is natural to human nature - we like to be the center of our universe! As a matter of fact, we learned this quite young. When we were not considered the center of all that was going on around us, we learned we could throw a little tantrum until we got our own way - until attention was focused on us - even before we could speak, we figured this one out! God's plans and "systems" are different. His desire is that we would place our attention on him - first and foremost. That means that we consider all we do in light of answering a few simple questions: 1)If I pursue this course of action, will it keep Christ central in my thoughts, attitude, and actions? 2) If I pursue this moment of pleasure, will I regret the consequences? 3) If I bring this "thing" into my life, will it add unwanted distraction to my life?

These are not really "rocket-science" kind of questions. They are practical questions that help us to evaluate decisions "in the moment". The world only offers us a continual craving for physical pleasure - what we see and hear is that if it feels good, we should do it. We are encouraged to want what it is that we see - even if we don't really need it. After all, isn't that the concept behind 'end-cap' sales in the stores? The world also encourages us to become puffed up in pride over our achievements and those physical possessions that we acquire or amass. If we ask ourselves those questions (run our decisions through those "filters" before making them), we might just avoid some heartache in our life. The reminder to us is that when we fail to use some "filters" to guide our thoughts, intentions, and actions, we will drive a wedge in between God and ourselves - we isolate ourselves from God's fellowship. Isolation is really disconnection. When something is isolated, it is "set away from" that which it was designed to be connected to. We isolate very contagious people in hospitals because if they were "connected to" others in the hospital without taking the proper precautions to avoid the spread of disease, we'd have an epidemic!

Isolation from God occurs when our heart or mind places anything else in the position of authority in our lives that is designed specifically for God. We are allowing ourselves to be "exposed" over and over to those thought patterns, cravings of our bodies, etc., that connect us more with the "disease" of our sin instead of the "remedy" for our sin. The best thing we can do is to use the "filters" we are provided: the Word of God, our conscience, and the Holy Spirit resident within. When we do, we find that they answer the questions posed above with pretty reliable truth - directing our behavior, our thoughts, and our intentions toward God and away from the world's systems/ways. If you are in a place where you are realizing that your love for God has been "squeezed out" by the things you have been pursuing, it may be the perfect time to begin to evaluate your focus. If all we can see is "us", there is not much room for God. In other words, we have "isolated" ourselves unto ourselves - taking God out of the equation of our lives. It may be time to step out of that isolated place and into the safety of God's arms. Just sayin!


Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

A brilliant display indeed

Love from the center of who you are ; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply ; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. (Romans 12:9-12) Integrity and Intensity don't seem to fit together all that well, but they are uniquely interwoven traits which actually complement each other. "Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it." God asks for us to have some intensity (fervor) in how we love (from the center of who we are), but he also expects us to have integrity in our love as he asks us to be real in our love (don't fake it). They are indeed integral to each other. At first, we may only think of integrity as honesty - some adherence to a moral code within. I believe there is a little more to integrity than meets the eye. In the most literal sense,

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce