When I was a kid and faced with the potential consequences ("consequences" nothing...I mean I was faced with getting punished!) for my actions, there was often that moment that every kid dreads. I had to tell my dad or mom what I did. Now look, they already knew what I did; they were teaching me to own what I did. Anyway, at those fateful and fearful moments, my dad would often say “tell the truth and shame the devil!” This was never easy to hear for it reminded me that God is pleased with truth and the devil is pleased with lies, and even though lying seemed like a “get out of jail free” card, it was really an “out of the frying pan and into the fire” card. Guidelines are easier when you are a kid. As adults, how well do we do when faced with the gray areas and the white lies of life? Do we have resolve? Is it strong? What is it based upon? Can God bless us when in those gray areas?
What has happened to us? We live in an age where ego and emotion are more important than virtue and values. An age where personal preference outweighs personal worth and “I want it now” trumps integrity. We live in an age where absolutes aren’t (unless we decide they fit into our personal plan) and standards are only something to customize and remodel to our personal satisfaction. Ours is an age where the ancient principles of sin and objective morality are being relegated to the trash heap of history. So, what are we supposed to do? Should we go along with the flow of thoughts and emotions that are reshaping our social structure? Should we abandon what is considered to be the old and worn out moral thinking of the past and embrace the new and vibrant personally-based principles of the present?
In many ways we are daily in a fight for our lives. There are so many choices that present themselves to us each and every day, many of which can distract and derail us from what is most important. The biggest factor that determines whether we stay on track with life or go down some rabbit hole of distraction and disruption is simply...me. Yup, I am the decision maker - the gatekeeper of my own mind and body - and I alone have final say as to what kind of victory or what kind of defeat I will experience. Now, wait a minute! As a Christian shouldn’t I be subject to the will of God through Christ? Absolutely! Then why am I saying that I am in control? It’s simple! I decide how much influence the will of God will exercise in my life at any given moment and that makes ME my worst enemy! Great! Now what do we do? What do we do? We learn how to identify, fight and win the battle!
Have you noticed how easy it is to offend people these days? There seems to be such an overt need to accept and to be accepted that we go overboard with the “correctness” of our words and behavior lest we hurt anyone’s feelings at any time. Now, being accepting of others is a good thing, but is it the most important thing? Should we willingly lay all other principles and standards upon the altar of mutual acceptance? Are we compelled to accept the world the way it is without regard to the good we have gleaned from the way it was? How did Jesus do it? He certainly spent time with the sinners of his day but was it at the cost of higher principles? Did Jesus actually “hang out” with sinners? Was his time with them to make them feel good or accepted? What is God’s role in all of this? If we want a relationship with God, does He accept us as we are or is there more to it?
The world is systematically becoming a dark place. It is not that people are purposely looking to dwell in darkness. It is that people - many people - have come to believe in things that had their origin in darkness and treachery. Wherever you look you can see the subtle creeping in of thinking, philosophies and actions that do not reflect the wholesome goodness of godly righteousness; but they rather engulf all in their path in a pervasive and deepening gloom that is labeled as a "new understanding" of what is good and acceptable. Jesus emphatically told his followers to be the "light of the world," to be that "city set on a hill for the whole world to see." So, how are we doing with that? Is Christianity truly the light of the world or have we misrepresented and failed the light of the Gospel? Is the world supposed to see our light and come to it or are we simply off track in our understanding?
Did you ever notice that there never seems to be enough time? For some reason or other, we are always rushing around to do the things we need to do and we seem to scarcely be able to even take a breath in between this and that. Our lives are often harried, and as a result we tend to feel unfulfilled and empty at the end of a day. So, how are we spending our time? What are we doing – or not doing - with that precious commodity of time to either fulfill or fritter away our lives? As Christians, are there different and specific guidelines for spending and investing our time than for others? Are there ways to simply and efficiently reorder and reclaim our time? Where do we start? What do we do?
The very definition of “Christian” is one who follows Christ. As Christians, we all know this and we all agree that it is of paramount importance. The big question is, what exactly does it mean to follow Christ? What is our life supposed to look like? What does God want FROM us through Christ and what does God want FOR us through Christ? Is it different for everyone? How do we know if we are on track? What role does trouble play? Do we really have to suffer for Christ?
Time for a Christian Questions pop quiz! Who here in our listening audience is so satisfied with their Christian life that they see no need to focus on further change or development? As you look at your life and imagine yourself before Jesus would he say to you – wow, your character is so fully developed, your prayer life is so complete and your sacrifice of your will is so overwhelmingly perfected that you can stop trying – just relax, for you are the perfect example of my disciple! No? Well, then what are we doing about it? Are you resolving to change, but more importantly, are you keeping your resolve?
Here we are in the 21st century and Christianity has really taken on a different look than when it all began. So, what is following Jesus all about? Is it costly? Is it pleasant? Can we customize our following of Jesus to our personal preferences? How do we know if we are really following him or if we are following our own idea of what we would like Jesus to be? Stay with us as we try to get our arms around what true discipleship is and how we can be fully immersed in the footsteps of our Lord!