Turning Around

“For from the least to the greatest of them,
    everyone is greedy for unjust gain;
and from prophet to priest,
    everyone deals falsely.
 They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
    saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
    when there is no peace.

I think it is time we be honest about ourselves. As I look at the working and dealings of God with his people in history, I have come to a simple realization. In spite of the wisdom and truths of God, every single one of us are going to live out our short existence exactly how we choose to.

I do believe that for many of us it matters what God says, but in some crazy way we still end up living life as if we really don’t care what God says. We are bombarded with Christian memes, videos, movies, music, schooling, and academics, but the fact is, we get up in the morning and we do life the way we choose. God has already told us how to discover life, in language plain as black and white. And yet we will try our hardest to push the envelope far enough to some shade of black and white that we can justify.

The scripture gives us a clear mandate to love God first with everything, but still, we have people living out every day putting their family first and God second. We have a clear command that we are to be content with food and clothing because we  brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out of the world. Even so we spend the majority of our time building a career and climbing the ladder of success. We also find in God’s Word that it is essential that we come together and worship often from an honest heart and unified minds and yet we can barely get out of bed once a week to gather together. There are so many other examples but not enough space. I think you get the point.

For most of us, our pursuits and our priorities are normal for earthbound people but they are not normal for eternity bound people.

How can we as followers of Jesus simplify our lives and hold to priorities that are eternal? I hear many say they are creating lasting memories by filling their lives full of short-term fun and happiness.  I am sure many of us have pictures of family members in our past and the wonderful times they had, vacations they took and once in a while you might even get them out of the attic or closet to look at them. These memories may give us some short-term happiness but they have no reward with eternal benefits when we stand before our Creator.

I remember a long time ago a singer named Amy Grant said she had a dream of standing before Jesus and telling him about all the records she made for him. As she looked around the records disappeared. Jesus revealed what was really in her heart. Her motives, her true priorities. She was ashamed at the findings.

Man has taken the simple, sure and clear Word of the living God and from the beginning has dissected, stretched, pushed, pulled, organized, processed and packaged it until it is mostly unrecognizable. I am absolutely confident that the original twelve Apostles would not recognize the foundation of Christianity that they laid over twenty centuries ago.

The only comfort we have is the fact that God goodness and kindness can lead us to a place where we can always turn around and go back to the simple and good way that will bring rest to our souls.

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.”   ~ Jeremiah 6:16

The purest point of anything is the beginning. So for us who follow Jesus we can go back to the beginning of the family of God.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. ~ Acts 2:42

Consider the family of God. In the book of Acts, Luke tells us that they all had one mind and one heart. They devoted themselves to four simple things.
1. The Apostles teachings (the Word of God)
2. Fellowship (they met daily at church and in their homes)
3. Breaking of Bread (They took communion together and shared meals)
4. Prayers (They put a high priority of praying together)

Imagine a people who were so filled with the love of and for God that everything they did each day, from labor to rest was just a life of worship. Hearts with pure motives, content in every circumstance, following and obeying Jesus from a simple devotion. What rest this would produce in their souls.

No wonder Luke wrote further in the book of Acts that these people of God did not even consider what they owned as their own, but the people had all things in common and there was not a needy person among them. What a far cry from the world of the American Dream and the preachers of destiny and prosperity we have today!

Can we Christians in the twenty-first century really shed ourselves of all the excess, the merchandising, the self promotion of egos and allow the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:27-28) to govern our lives? The question can only be answered and solved by us individually. We have to start examining ourselves in the light of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  Jesus has already told us that only a few will enter the rest of God and find life. Only a few will count the cost. Only a few will deny their soulish living and come and follow him. All the Father can ask of us is come and taste his goodness and join the pursuit of returning to a pure devotion to Christ.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. ~ Hebrews 4:11-13