I was studying the book of Revelation recently, and was reading the passage that contains the letter dictated to the church in Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6). As I read, I could not help but see the parallels between them and the current American church. I encourage you to take a moment to read the short passage above to provide context to this post.
It’s a new year and you’ve made the determination that this is the year you are dedicating your life to follow Christ. No more playing around, this time it’s for real. And then you lose your job. Your spouse tells you they don’t want to be married anymore. Your kid is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly the thoughts of commitment to God are far away. Despite your best intentions, life jumped up and smacked you in the face. While the previous examples may be on the extreme side (though certainly in this day and age any one of them is within the realm of possibility), the challenge we often face is how to stay focused and committed to Jesus when life gets in the way.
As a musician, I’ve definitely had some songwriting heroes over the years. One of those people is the amazing Steve Taylor, a man with an incredible talent for creating unique and incredible lyrics. One of his more haunting songs was titled, “Harder to Believe than Not To”. The tune was running through my head the other day (I am blessed/cursed with a non-stop 24/7 radio playing continually in my subconscious!), when I suddenly realized I totally disagreed with the words. The troubling line was from the chorus where Taylor sings, “Don’t you know by now why the chosen are few? It’s harder to believe than not to.” I understand where he is coming from; certainly to the world at large, it seems to believe in Jesus is a difficult thing. I live in America, the wealthiest nation the world has ever seen, and Jesus said it is nearly impossible for a rich man to enter Heaven (Matthew 19:23-26). I get that the cross is a stumbling block for many who refuse to put away their own selfish desires and ambitions to instead live a life of service to God. To me, those examples demonstrate more of an unwillingness to yield control rather than a difficulty in believing.
I recently had the privilege of attending a screening of the documentary “58:”, a film commissioned by Compassion International with support from several other ministries. The movie detailed stories of people living in poverty and enslavement around the world. The documentary was very well done and I highly encourage you to check out the film and the accompanying website and book. The premise is that we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime if we would simply have the will. We have the resources and the technology and have in fact made great strides in the last 20 years. However, we can do better and put an end to poverty sooner rather than later.
As you go throughout your days, are you pursuing a life of holiness? Are you consciously striving to be the person God created you to be, a person who is consumed by the love of Jesus? This isn’t a new concept, but it has been brought to my mind in fresh ways through recent teachings by Bill Hybels and David Platt. Not only has God placed a unique combination of passions and skills in each of us in order that we might do the work He created us to do, but He has also charged us to conduct ourselves in a manner that is pleasing to Him (Philippians 1:27).