Do We Have It All Wrong?
Unyielding, steady and persistent, immovable in purpose or will. Relentless. God so (relentlessly) loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son. Jesus came and died for us because of His unimaginable, unwavering, selfless, relentless love. He was perfect, but He took our place. He did so that we may not perish, but have eternal life.
This earth is not our home and this life is but a vapor. The days can be long but the years often too short. Our life here is a journey and we can simply exist, or we can choose life in Christ, and for others, in everything we do.
We are on the brink of a brand new year. In reflecting back on this year and in looking ahead, I’ve been considering the character of Christ and how that applies in every area of my life. He is marked by relentless love, compassion, forgiveness, selflessness, empathy, humility, kindness, faithfulness, and friendship. Unyielding, steady and persistent. Our call is to love Him and to share that with others. To die to ourselves and to take up our cross.
“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:35-38)
We live in a much different world than when Jesus walked the earth. It’s hard for us to picture Him actually standing before us in a village doing what He did. This passage doesn’t say Jesus walked into a town announcing His holy presence, carved a statue of himself, and propped it up in the town square. After all He is Jesus, the Savior of the entire world. The one who was perfect by all measure. If anybody was worthy of boasting it would be Him. Instead, it says he had compassion, saw that the people were helpless, and healed them. He invited His disciples to do the same.
I try to think about what this means in our modern world where much of our lives are lived in real time online. Bombarded by social networks and increased access to people has left us more connected but seemingly much emptier and more unfulfilled in our relationships. Technology has enabled things to change so rapidly and opinions fire so frequently that it’s hard to keep up. Life can be so reactionary this way. I’m convicted when I read about the way Jesus lived. It wasn’t about Him. It was about using His gifts and compassion to change the lives of His people.
When I look at myself and the world at large, I grow weary of what we are becoming. We are distracted by the trivial and focusing on the superficial. We are losing our individual voices and selling out to echoing one another without thought or conviction. Intentional living is all but a past time. We are on a constant, unhealthy pursuit of validation. And not of others, but of ourselves. We put endless thought and energy into snapping the perfect photo and finding the right words to project our image as bigger, better, happier and more put together than the next person. We carefully craft our limited characters and to top them off with a hearty #best(_____)ever and a #sorryimnotsorry. I’m just not sure what good this does. Are we really connected and sharing our lives, or are we simply talking at and over one another? Are a bunch of double taps and an ever so temporary sense of accomplishment really worth it? Are we doing this in place of caring for the people we say we love or in standing up for the broken and hurting? Are we just completely fixated on the wrong things?
I’m not sure I know the answer to these questions. But I’m certain that I’ve wrestled with this and I’m wondering who else has. I won’t attempt to predict how Jesus would navigate in a modern world, but I will look to what His word says. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20) Ouch. It’s abundantly clear what we are to press towards. Treasures in heaven. Living for eternity. My life, in many ways, compared to this looks like an epic fail.
So now what? I’m not proposing the things we have on this earth are all bad. In fact, we have access to things that bring us joy and help to advance the Kingdom. We often steward them well, but before we know it, even great gifts over time distract us from our true purpose. As we ring in 2014, I intend to live relentlessly with more purpose and less distraction than ever. Our time is short and our opportunities to make a true difference are few. Each of us have unique gifts and the opportunity to make a difference, but that requires choice and intentional effort. What will you choose? Our life here is a journey and we can simply exist, or we can choose life in Christ, and for others, in everything we do.
*This post is first in a series I’m calling Inside Out. As somebody who has been known to internalize my thoughts, this will serve as way to express my internal chatter and ultimately pursue a life in the wholeness of Christ.