(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I read the Sermon on the Mount today. As always, it’s especially uplifting to read Matthew 5:1-26. I may not be the most dynamic example of a Christian, but I do seek the Lord and what He cares about. These verses remind me that friendship with God is enmity with the world. Must be fewer people who are friends with God making an impact because not much in the world today points to Jesus.
If you read the Beatitudes with worldly success in mind, it seems that nothing in those verses would look good on the resume of someone looking to get to the top of the ladder of success. God’s ways are certainly not the same as the world’s, which is why “Jesus freaks” like myself who want God to have His way are so often perceived as an oddity. Not a complaint…just an observation.
“14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
I’ve always noticed that when I make a grand step toward God, He answers my gesture with all kinds of evidence that He noticed. My commitment to God’s Word for this year produced a growing hunger today — but not for a grilled cheese sandwich or my favorite Doritos. Instead, I was flooded with a hunger to delve into more of God’s Word. I really love the Truth. For instance, when I read a story about the Bible but the story doesn’t get the facts quite right, it bothers me a lot. The pure Truth is a lot more interesting than altered story details produced by inattention.
Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwich (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For example, I read the story of Noah to Aubrianna out of her new Bible today, and the storyteller missed one of the most interesting things about Noah’s story. It had never rained before — ever, in the history of the world — when he built the ark in the desert. (When reading the story in a true translation of the Bible just now, I realized that it was through prior study that I learned this.) So, anyway, Noah was trusting God for an event that had never taken place while being laughed at by the entire population of the world. But because Noah was trusting in God and obeying Him explicitly, He was rewarded with life, not to mention that his family repopulated the earth!
I want to be sure and mention that part of the snowball effect I experienced today was better balance and productivity. It was a full and satisfying day, and I do mean in the non-stomach type of way (which is progress). Practically counting the hours until the new Bible arrives. There’s no purchase that usually ever excites me as much as a new Bible, and that’s definitely true this time.
From my reading in Matthew today (virtually the same message Noah preached as he built the ark):
From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.[a]”
New Living Translation (NLT)
Just as the toddlers got settled in the basket outside our car at Kroger, we heard a car crash nearby. Looking in the direction of the noise, I witnessed an SUV crash into a white car parked on the far end of the parking lot and then skid around before finally stopping. I pushed the kids in that direction to get the license plate of the car that was making all the trouble, in case the person decided to hit and run. The guy whose car got smashed up walked up and was wondering why the heck his new car was crushed in on one side. I gave him my card as a witness. Some lady had sped through the parking lot and a truck hit her before the part of the crash that I saw.
Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
I don’t know what was going on with that lady, but what struck me was that the car that was way off on the end of the lot, supposedly safe from being dinged by other car doors, is the one that got badly damaged. It got me to thinking about how all of our plans to “play it safe” are subject to fail. And there’s one area where I’ve noticed all my Christian life that people play it safe, and that’s in choosing not to get overly enthusiastic about Jesus.
If you think about it, usually only preachers and missionaries live sacrificially and are sincerely head-over-heels for Jesus. Not many everyday Christians can be accused of being more excited about Jesus than anything else. Truth is, the overall “church in America” has more of the world in it than it does devotion to Jesus Christ.
Never will forget the deacon at a Baptist church who spoke up one Wednesday night at church during a Bible discussion. He outright and unashamedly admitted that he chooses to please man rather than God. As a person who has been lopsided about maintaining a God-focus, I can say it really does create friction in relationships. The easy-going road that invites everyone to roll out their welcome mats is not the one which follows hard after God.
The way I see it is that people like that deacon play it safe like that white car at the end of the parking lot. But in the end, they’re the ones that weren’t as wise as they thought. There will be great reward in heaven for people who live for the things above rather than the things below. And there will be great loss of reward for those who didn’t; talk about an inconvenient truth! Even more inconvenient that having to deal with all the hassle of a wrecked vehicle.
Here’s my disclaimer: This post may sound a bit like I’m feeling spiritually superior, but I don’t mean to. I’m so far from a perfect Christian it’s ridiculous, but no one who knows me can deny that I have a heart after God and obviously not after the world.