I would love your feedback on if the intended message comes across cleanly in this 2 minute video.
Our son wished us to be gone. While the words felt devastating coming from a 6 year old, it was comforting to learn from other parents that it is much more common than we first thought.
I asked him what he would do with us out of the picture and he sniffled through the tears to tell me that he would take care of himself. Oh, it was because we turned off the TV and he wanted to watch more. No beatings, no yelling, no grounding, we just turned off the TV because it was time to do other things besides watch TV. I know, we are monsters.
I asked how he would take care of himself and he shrugged his shoulders. (fun fact, he can’t use the remotes yet… he doesn’t know how. So you can see how well he thought this out. With us gone, he will have zero TV).
I asked how he would get food and he told me he would just go downstairs and get it from the cupboard. This is where we keep his chips, fruit snacks and crackers. And that was the extent of his plan. Which makes perfect sense… because he is JUST NOW 6 years old.
His master plan of living the good life is watching TV all day and night by getting rid of the only people that know how to operate said TV and he will sustain himself for the rest of his life on gummies and potato chips… enough to last maybe a few days. And because he is 6, we can’t even explain why this is such a bad idea.
His emotions take over and he knows more than anyone else. At first our feelings were hurt. We’ve done nothing but show patience and kindness and love to this child. We went through frustration, concern, a little laughter over the absurdity, and then it hit us.
God has a sense of humor, I think. Because even though we may not use the words, we speak this out in our life actions. We brush God away and claim, “I’ll handle this myself”. Either through distrust or lack of wisdom or lack of patience, or ego… we start trying to call the shots.
When the miracle doesn’t happen fast enough, it can feel like someone just turned off the TV. When the pain persists. When the hunger remains. When the relationship collapses… I’ll fix it. I’ll make my own way. I’ll do my own thing. I’ll make a move now. And how quickly forget that the God we push back, is the one that filled the cupboard for us to begin with. We think we don’t need God because we have all the gifts He has given us at our disposal.
Be still and know that I am God.Psalm 46:10 ESV
Another translation reads:
Cease striving and know that I am GodPsalm 46:10 NASB
Cease striving. Trust. Patience. Let God take control. Allow life to fall outside of the tiny box you crafted for it. Get bruises, accept scrapes, shed tears, and be mocked… In other words, line up behind Jesus and walk in his footsteps. But also, and this is key, allow the Father to lead through ANY valley, just as Jesus did. And accept and walk through those lows with eyes fixed on greater things.
Growth doesn’t fashion out of comfort. The things worth our moments aren’t conceived from our 6 year old minds. Our Master has put in us a blueprint full of pain, sorrow, and misunderstanding. But on the other end of that sketch is the love, protection, sustenance and all the saving we will ever need.
Until our fulfillment, we trust and we grow. Growth comes through effort, challenge, and acceptance of God’s gifts. There is a reason the blueprint doesn’t look like the finished product… we have to build it first. Until we finish building, all we have are parts and instructions. Once we finish, we have a God-inspired masterpiece.
When we don’t feel like building, when we think the effort is unfair or the destination looks off… we tend to turn towards ourselves. We grab the remote and pout against all the monsters that stand in our way. What if, instead of blaming the blueprint maker, we ask for His help instead? What if, instead of fleeing from Him, we wander to Him and spend more time with the architect and less time trying to figure it out through our own shallow and short-lived plans?
What if we could slow down and even come to a full stop… and know that TV and crackers aren’t the essence of life. Nor our jobs or accomplishments or hobbies. You know what is the most fun? When the desires of our hearts matches the blueprints within us. And don’t run after that frustration… the one that says the blueprint is wrong! That is what the 6 year old does.
The infant wants a new blueprint. The adult wants to complete the work. Lets grow in Christ. Be Still and know…
The church often fails to meet the needs of the people based on a simple misunderstanding. The goal of the church is not meant to be a destination. Instead, it’s intention is that of transportation.
The church is not an endgame. It’s a car pool. We are supposed to, as fellow travelers, help people to find the Christ. The true goal is God. And all of us, the church included, is on a path to Him.
Both parties can get this wrong. The people expect the church to fulfill the needs only God can accommodate and the church gets so caught up in filling the van, it forgets that there is a more eternal purpose for gathering.
The church can do a lot of amazing things, as long as those things are done on the journey to an eternal Savior. God’s people in the church are a crucial place along that journey. But often disappointment comes when people find just that in the church… more people. Other people. Sinners.
We find failure when we come to the church seeking God’s perfection. We won’t find it there. In other words, Jesus hasn’t returned to the church yet either. Those buildings still rest on fallen soil.
We find success when we come to the church seeking other seekers and unify in a journey that will end with the return of the Messiah.
Frustration comes when the eternal sight is lost. Have you ever set out for Disney Land and stopped at a rundown motel along the way? It’s a bed and some safety… but it’s not the purpose of the trip. If you have children with you who use the pool and watch some HBO, they might decide this is all they ever wanted. They might even argue to stay and forego the final destination.
Those children got distracted by something that looked good temporarily but was not the life-changing event they signed up for. Is the church a rundown motel? Not really. Perhaps compared to what we are aiming for… the case could be made. The church is a perfectly intended tool created by God. I’m not knocking it… but it’s just a tool. And that is what we often forget.
The message of the church has often been, “Come join us.”, when it should be, “Come with us”. While there may not be ill-intent in the verbiage, it’s a significantly different recruitment for a massively different purpose.
Likewise, the church seeker should consider, not what programs or styles, or in many cases, which issues are sided with… but instead, who is trying to get to Jesus? Whose path is the straightest with the fewest stops along the way? Whose goal, is simply and solely to get home?
The TV show Once Upon a Time goes into great details about how the amazing power of true love’s kiss can break any curse. There are 2 rules the show expounds on that I think are worth covering briefly before we examine who our true love is.
First, the love must be reciprocated. If only one party has love for the other, then true love is not established and the kiss is powerless against any magic.
Second, The biggest curse is broken by the love between a mother and son. When Emma kisses Henry on his forehead, the entire kingdom is freed because of their true bond and maternal love for each other.
The sad moments generated from this knowledge showed failed couples, who had fallen out of love in one way or another, unable to wield the magic breaking power of true love. Either one party or both no longer cherished the other and the kiss would simply fall flat.
Nothing spoke stronger about the deepest, truest feelings one could have for another than seeing the results of a kiss when needing powerful spells broken.
So I’d like to pose a challenging question for each of us to ponder for a while. What is our true love? Before you answer, consider that many people think they have a true love, only to find that circumstances can prove surprising and upsetting results.
We don’t need fairy-tales to see the wreckage of failed marriages, broken homes, friendless individuals and desperate souls. How many people find their true love only to wake up to an empty bed and a broken heart? Easily more than half. We all know the lies told of “love”. Few of us know the truth of real love.
So when life’s curse falls on you, what truth would be revealed? Would your spouse be able to break the spell? Would your love for them, and their love for you unite in an explosion of salvation and healing? Or would it fizzle into despair as you realize that at least one of you only lives for another?
Would it be your children? Would their love for you be pure? Is it your career? Would cold hard cash release the spell as the thing you love most in this world? Popularity? Health? Status? Possessions?
What about Jesus? Would His kiss on your forehead have the reciprocating power of true, eternal love?
Remember, this is a magical fairy-tale and the deepest thoughts of the heart are revealed against all will and logic. It’s not a question of, would you want it to… It’s a question of, would it work? Is the love already there, deep deep down in your heart. If Jesus planted one on your cheek, would the world find out that you truly love Him back above all others, or would He walk away broken hearted?
Who do you really love? For some of us… the question may be, what do we really love? While this might be a revealing and depressing process for those of us being really honest with ourselves… remember this. The cross proved Jesus’ love for us once and for all.
Instead of true love in the form of a kiss, He showed His love by taking on our mistakes and nailing them to a torture device while He still held them. Should we choose to love Jesus the way He first loved us… we never have to wonder if He might return the sentiment or not.
We never have to question that we are His greatest desire. The price He paid proved that far beyond what any make believe story could attempt to describe.
What is your favorite movie? When you share it with friends in conversation how do you describe it? What if you had to sum it up in only 1 short sentence? No commas. No run on. No compounding. Just a short, simple sentence.
I’ll describe some of my favorite movies this way and lets see if you can guess any of them:
- A love story about a billionaire and his secretary.
- A young man finally stands up to his father.
- The world obsesses over jewelry.
- He took back what was his!
- A shy girl takes a risk on a loser.
- A small door is more versatile than expected.
- They danced in Chicago.
- Roasting marshmallows in New York
- Everyone just watched.
- One of the best Christmas movies.
You can scroll down a bit to see the answers if you want them now. They are in bold.
Did you get them all? Did you guess any correctly? Let’s be honest, you can’t accurately depict a movie in this way. Two hours doesn’t condense into a single simple sentence. The math doesn’t work that way, and even when you try, the logic doesn’t follow.
Most movies are so good for the very deep things that would require lots of explanation. What we tend to enjoy are masterfully wrapped surprises that are slowly unveiled throughout the course of the story. While every synopsis above was accurate in one way or another, none of them get to the heart of what makes each movie so good.
Before we go any further, here are the movies I was attempting to summarize:
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
Lord of the Rings
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Isn’t it silly to think that we could convince somebody to give up 2 hours of their day to watch something we recommend in under 1 sentence?
Even the most basic life fundamentals require discussion and dissection. Have you ever seen someone about to get hit by a ball or some other projectile? Someone yells “duck!” or “Look out!” and what happens? Does the person duck or dive out of the way without any followup? Not usually. The first thing they tend to do is to look right towards the person yelling. The fastest way to get someone to put their face directly in the path of the object about to hit them is to yell, “look out!”.
We are conditioned to see for ourselves. We just can’t take someone else’s word for it… even when its to our own peril. The lesson is also true of hot stoves. You can tell a child not to touch it, but the lesson is only temporary at best until they actually touch it and experience the pain for themselves. THEN, we could say the lesson is burned into their thinking.
If we can’t accurately depict a feature film in one sentence, what would it take to share the life of Jesus to a world conditioned in receiving information 140 characters at a time?
What story are we telling when we only give snippets of the Bible? What message is our audience receiving when we dwell on the rules of the scripture? Do non-believers go rushing to the Bible book stores when we dive into politics? What if we just try to live by example, and so people only ever see a nice person living out their days? Maybe we only talk about God on Sundays?
We can be really good at summing up the Bible in all the wrong ways, just like I did with the movies a moment ago. And if you thought that exercise was futile… so it is with preaching only a tiny fraction of God’s word. If you thought it ludicrous that anyone would guess the movie after such a short and poor description… imagine what the world thinks of God when we can do the same thing with a much larger, more complicated work about the life of Jesus.
We aren’t a short Psalm. God didn’t craft us to be a parable. None of us can be summed up by a list of rules. We are children of God and have good news to share. Let’s share the whole story!
The common excuse is that we are waiting on something. We need money, power, status, followers, time and strength. We need spiritual gifts and a platform to perform them.
The followers that Jesus accepted decided to follow Him before He made Himself truly known (i.e. before any of the excuses listed above). They dropped what they were doing and walked away from their lives over a simple request, “Follow me”.
The people that wanted to follow Jesus after He made Himself known were turned away (Luke 9). So how do we change the world? How do we get the attention of the lost and share this amazing story with a people that get bored before we get the first sentence out of our mouths?
We act like Jesus. We talk like Him. We pray like Him. We love like Him. We lead to the Father in our every breath, step, and motion. We don’t seek numbers of followers or reports of grand conversions or even baptisms. We simply go about the Father’s business and He will take care of the rest.
This was the faith of Jesus. We must have faith like Jesus. That even on the cross, when things look the bleakest, we can know that Dad will take care of everything. When we trust in God, the story is heard. When we pray faithfully and love unconditionally, the truth is told. When people can see Jesus everyday rather than hearing poorly worded, second hand summaries…The good news is told and spread.
When we know the whole story, we know the great commission isn’t just to retell the story. We are to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus. The life saving gospel is only fully told when we are fully engaged in Christ. Otherwise, we are just spitting out one-liners and hoping people will go and watch for themselves.
If we want people to know Jesus… we have to introduce them. They have to see Him for themselves. We can’t introduce them to someone we barely know.
Our 5 year old wanted to know why we had different bed times. He often forgets his responsibilities (things like turning off a light, brushing teeth, being nice, his middle name, etc), but he has an epic, razor sharp, iron clad memory when it comes to the rules for others.
Oh, how he can spot a discrepancy. “What do you mean you don’t have to go to bed also?!!!?! That’s not fair!!!!”. He fully expects the same food portions as adults, the same allowance, the same… everything. In his mind, fair is fair… there are no exceptions.
So after the first 3 hundred or so times of me explaining that he would get a newer bed time when he got older, he turned 6. Well, that is getting ahead of ourselves… he almost turned 6. With the birthday still 3 days off, he was already a 6 year old in his mind.
And out came the logic. “You said I could stay up later when I got older… well, now I’m older!”. And this isn’t something that can be explained to him. Not yet anyway. He isn’t ready. His mind can’t process that even though he is a year older from the first time we had this conversation, he is only a day older from the last time we had it.
He doesn’t understand that we also told him that he could drive when he was older too. But that hasn’t stopped him from asking for a car of his own. A real one. And I’ve yet to find adult words that will pacify a child who feels like he is ready.
And I wonder if this is how we sound to God?
I’m ready for that next step. I’m ready for more gifts. I’m ready for that relationship. I’m ready for that promotion. I’m ready for more favor. I’m ready!
And the God who really knows us and loves us sees this infant asking for a car to drive… but we aren’t pacified with the wisdom of a God who loves us too much to allow us to destroy ourselves with ignorance and ego.
I know that in the last year, I’ve used the phrase, “when you’re older”, about 365 times. And I think I’m being generous, because I know it’s often said more than once per day.
I wonder how many time God uses that phrase, or perhaps a variation of it? Waiting on the Lord is a common theme in the Psalms. Patience is a form of love and a fruit of the Spirit.
I love my son… but I’m not about to let him behind the wheel of the car just because he cries tears of unfairness. I’m not going to let him stay up late when it isn’t good for him and I’m not going to let him eat the portions of a grown man just because his brain hasn’t developed enough to understand.
Shouldn’t God do the same for us? What that means to us is… we need more patience, more understanding, and more reality that we aren’t equal with God. We don’t share His bed time. We aren’t privy to all the knowledge and wisdom of the creator of the universe.
Sometimes His answer to us might simply be, “because I said so”. And we need to faithfully learn that that is an excellent answer. The creator of the world, including our small part in it, deemed us as perfect, right where we are, for now. And if, as parents, we want our children to appreciate that safety and protection that we provide in those moments, we should thrive there as well.
But we also teach our son to ask. It’s OK to ask. We love him and want him to be happy. So, as frustrating as it gets, he is allowed, and even encouraged, to ask for a later bedtime. And someday, he will get it. And it will most certainly be on a day that he asks for it. But not yet. Not today. He isn’t ready. His little body needs sleep.
Part of what he doesn’t understand is that I’m happy to give him things that he enjoys once is ready for them. And if, in my sinful nature, I can manage to be that for him… imagine what God is prepared to do for us… when we are ready.
We were singing, ‘there is no one like our God’ and I couldn’t help but wonder if that was true. Not, was it true in the sense of fact, but was it true in our hearts?
How do we value God? Is He the most important thing in our lives? Be careful how you answer that… the enemy may be lying to you.
Is God more important than money? Yes, I give 10%
Is God more important than family? Yes, we vowed before Him and put Him first.
Is God more important than career? Yes, I take off on Sundays.
Is God more important than my social life? Yes, I go to church.
Maybe you answer those questions differently? Before we go any further, lets consider my baseball card collection from grade school. I was a big Dale Murphy fan.
My dad gave me his rookie card and it was by far, both, my favorite and the highest valued card of my collection. If I stood any other single card against it, Dale would win out every time. Not only was he my childhood hero, but the Beckett price guide also said the card was better. Priced higher than every single card. None could stand against.
Until one day, something I hadn’t expected happened. I was offered a trade. This trade was different. It wasn’t for another card. That was easy. No one card could beat out my Dale. This was for lots of cards.
In terms of dollars and cents, I had previously been comparing 1 dollar cards, 5 dollar cards, 10 dollar cards… one by one, individually against the mighty 50 dollar rookie card of my favorite ball player. It made sense mathematically and it made sense in my heart… I wasn’t going to part with the Murph!
But the game changed. Now I’m looking at a sea of cards offered up before me. Some are worth a few dollars… some are common cards worth very little. A couple are more coveted… but the grand total was concerning. All the cards together were worth far more than my one card. Even though my one card was more than each individual card, it couldn’t hold weight against the sum of ALL the other cards.
Now I’m at conflict with myself. Financially it’s smart to let go of my prized possession. But it made my heart hurt to think about losing such a gift from my dad. This card was special. Torn, I had to ponder the transaction. It wasn’t easy, but I passed on the offer.
You see, that card had two currencies. There was the going market rate, and then there was this weight in my heart. And that second value, even though it didn’t make sense to most, was more valuable to me than any one else could afford.
Today, while my entire baseball card collection has completely vanished over the years, Dale Murphy stills sits proudly on my shelf as a memory to good years gone by.
We can get lost in the numbers, can’t we? Is God more important than money? How do we answer that? Satan says if we give our 10%, we are good. He wants us to feel generous. Because when we feel generous, we can reason that we have done enough. We can stamp our name on the day and feel like we owned it. Worse, we can turn to ourselves and begin portioning out towards our own desires. After all, we did put God first… right?
But the lie is that we are lining up God against one thing at a time. Sure He is worth more than 10%. But are we even trying to make any other transactions? Is He worth more than 20%? 30%? 90%?
Let’s table money for a second. What about relationships? Careers? Pride? Status? Is God greater than ALL of those things… or just portions of them?
This is the lesson I learned form cardboard transactions so many years ago. At some point, when things stack up high enough, the value shifts. So it’s important to consider that just because no one thing is like God… could many things take His place?
Maybe we can walk away from a single promotion or a bad friend… or even a bunch of possessions. But can we do all of that? The amazing truth is that Jesus placed us higher than everything. All of everything all at once.
He left God, He left heaven. Once among His beloved on earth, He left family, He left career, He left friends, He left home or any potential for stability, He left status, He left pride, He left His own desires.
When Jesus weighed us against the mighty, overflowing, lopsided offer from the enemy… it made no logical sense to choose us. He could have had food after 40 days of starvation. He could have been given every worldly possession. He could have aborted His plan, gone home, and left us to fend for ourselves. At every turn, He simply said, It’s not a fair transaction.
The enemy asked for too much. Jesus was not willing to let go of His cherished people no matter what offer came His way. Jesus dealt with the second value that comes from the heart. Our face value is minuscule. Given our difficulties in obedience, it may even be quite low. One sinner on the open market may not carry any value at all.
But Jesus desires us with His heart. It’s not about the value we can bring, not even collectively… It’s about His love for us. When we were on the bartering table, Jesus traded in everything. He gave it all.
So the question has to be asked. What would we do for Him? Is there really no one like Him? That is important, because the more rare an item is, the more unique, and the more sought after… the more value it has. I.E. the more we must give up to receive it. Let that sink in for a second… To Jesus… we are extraordinarily valuable.
What is He valued at to us? 10%? Church each week? This isn’t intended to beat anyone up… the goal here is to open our eyes to the lies of the enemy. The enemy will whisper that you have done enough. You have given. You have sacrificed. You have loved… but in reality, we just keep choosing one card at a time and trying to compare them to our Savior. When what we should be doing, is holding God against the entire deck of cards.
The relationship changes when it costs everything. It’s one of many ways that I know God won’t leave me. He paid too much. He showed His hand. I am loved and cherished by the almighty God.
The lie is in the question. Is God worth more than money? Is He worth more than ego? Is He worth more than any one thing or ideal? It’s a deceptive question at best. It soothes us into small nibbles of victory that aren’t rightfully ours. Satan wants us to keep propping up inflated cards, one at a time, and measuring our deeds by worldly standards against our Savior. If we can love Jesus more than peanut butter and jelly, we can feel good about ourselves and ignore the more pressing questions listed below.
When Jesus called the disciples, they didn’t leave 10% of their fishing gear and lug the rest all over the earth following Him. No, they got up and walked away from EVERYTHING. Poles, worms, string, lures, jobs, family, friends,… they sort of did what Jesus did for them. That’s what a reciprocating relationship does. We may not be able to match the priceless gifts of Jesus… but our hearts can tell the whole story.
Does He own that second part of the equation linked to our hearts? Can we process that logical math and still turn down offers because we just love Him too much? Can we turn our backs to the full assault of the enemy and his lies because life would be too painful if we lost our prized possession? What is your treasure? What do you hold that nothing, not anything, not even everything can convince you to let go of?
Is there anyone or anything like our God?
- Samson knew his gifts. He wasn’t out trying to sing or put on shows. He smashed stuff. His accomplishments are legendary because he acted in faith with the tools God provided him. Bare hands, donkey jaw, pillars, etc.
- Samson was pretty smart. He loved riddles. He did stupid things but he wasn’t stupid.
- Samson put himself in temptation’s path. Look at how obvious Delilah was and how each time she tried the very thing he suggested. He knew… but he didn’t want to know.
- Samson believed that even though God had left, he would return when asked.
- Samson prayed for a mighty miracle. Something supernatural that could not be confused for something a mere human could do.
- Delilah is never mentioned in the Bible again after she is paid for her betrayal. We do not know her fate. In other words, when you serve the enemy, your story is over the second he is done with you. She was given an ENORMOUS sum of money and lived free… yet we never hear of her again, however, Samson, who was blinded and imprisoned still had amazing moments left to tell about as he served God.
- The more we fall away from God’s plan for us, the more difficult it will be to carry out the tasks assigned to us. Ponder how different life would be for Pharaoh if when Moses said, “let my people go!” the very first time, Pharaoh said, “sure, you may leave, have a safe trip!”. God’s plan was to set the Israelites free, but Pharaoh had to adjust to his own disobedience before it happened. Samson did something similar. He was set aside to free God’s people from the Philistines. Due to his disobedience, God still used him to accomplish this task, but at a much greater cost. When God was with him, he freely conquered on the battlefields. When He left God, he had to operate within prison walls and with no sight. Disobedience reduces our own options to work within God’s plan.
- Samson’s prayer aligned with God’s plans and gifts to him. It wasn’t selfish, it wasn’t a deviation from the path. It was exactly what God called him to do. It was almost like Samson said, “I accept and I’m ready”. It’s difficult to think through this at times, but we aren’t the only ones God is working with. Asking for something that someone else is set aside for, might yield more ‘no’s’ than we would like. Knowing our calling and asking for opportunities within God’s plan yields holy and unbelievable results.
- Samson did not know that God’s powers had left him. This plays into point 10 quite a bit, but it also makes me wonder… how many of us are functioning off a call that we received years ago, yet we do not live the life called out of or into? How many of us think God is with us when He has no reason to be? How many of us think He is just sitting back, watching us play Nintendo, when He is really waiting for repentance and renewal before He will work within us?
- Samson, now knowing that God’s powers had left him, prayed for a mighty miracle and then pushed on the pillars. This is faith. Praying and then pushing. Believing that there is power within a faithful God. If he did not feel God leave, did he feel Him come back? How did He know God returned? Because a called man asked a faithful God to fulfill His will through faith, mercy, and obedience. He prayed… and then he pushed.
A 100 calorie snack… and then you realize there are 10 servings in the tiny bag… (or the entire contents of the bag fits in your hand).
Free drink!!!! … with purchase of overpriced sandwich and fries.
Going through the drive though, paying, getting your food and going home. Then when you sit down to eat the order is wrong and missing items.
Having the film real burn up at the ending of Titanic. Not during the credits, but right before the final dramatic reveal. And then, because you still got to see 3 hours of the movie, the manager deems it sufficient and provides no refund or credit. (This happened to me).
Eating healthy and exercising your entire life and still getting heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
Being kind to a friend and then getting stabbed in the back.
These all have something in common. They are lies, or at best, half truths and deceptive. The Bible is full of promises from Jesus. Every one of them that has been passed by time has proven to be true.
Before texts or phones he told a fearful parent to return home to their healed child. And the child was healed. He told his disciples of His betrayal, who would do it and how they would know… then it all happened just as He had said. He foretold His death and resurrection. Everything that has been spoken by the mouth of Jesus has come to pass.
There is one more thing we await. His return. We know He will come back, but we don’t know when. While we wait we can ponder what the kingdom of Heaven will be like. We don’t have to wonder too much, because He told us in many parables.
The kingdom of heaven will be like:
Treasure hidden in a field, a fine pearl, a mustard seed, a net full of fish. But as we wait, we do so in a fallen world. A place with evil intention, greed, and hunger for dishonesty. Promises are made daily. Have you received a phone call claiming to be the IRS? What about an email from a foreign prince that wants to share his wealth? Maybe Walt Disney really will pay everyone that participates in the chain letter?
That deception comes from greedy souls who have bought the lies of the enemy. It’s a tried and true philosophy. If I can’t win naturally, I will cheat, steal, and worm my way to the top. Another promise from God is that Satan has been defeated. With my whole heart I believe that. And I see it in his desperate attempts to trick and entrap.
Just like the man who can barely speak English but wants me to give him my credit card and social security number for back taxes that I have never owed… and he will just make it all go away over the phone. It’s so obvious. It’s laughable. Except people are buying the lies. If everyone knew enough to not fall for that crazy scam, the crooks would never have success and would not waste their time.
But it does work. It just takes a few. Just a few people to be scared enough to try and stop all the promised bad things from happening. They don’t want to go to jail. They don’t want to be drug through lengthy court proceedings, so they pay up to satisfy the lies. It does work. People do pay. And to get those few who don’t know better, our phones ring constantly with “opportunities”.
Chances for me to get rich without working or to avoid a horrible fate that makes no sense. Mankind has learned this tactic from the best. Eat this apple, it will give you knowledge. Ignore your friends, it will make you seem more independent. Change that number on your taxes, you deserve it anyway. Don’t tell your spouse, how could they ever find out what you have been doing.
Little whispers in our conscience and before you know it we live in a world where a con is the rule. It’s just expected. I don’t even answer my phone unless your name is in my caller ID. I don’t talk to anyone at my door that I’m not expecting and I don’t believe what I hear regardless of the source. We have fallen. We have bought the lies and we continue to sell them.
While Jesus told us a little bit about what to expect from Heaven, I thought we should honestly and sincerely consider the alternative.
The kingdom of Hell is like a promise made that would change your life. You believed it and went against the will of God to have it. Once you signed on the dotted line, everything you were told ended up being a lie. You lost everything and everyone for the promise of something better. Now you have nothing. It’s an eternal con for the cost of your soul.
Every word out of the mouth of Jesus has proven to be true. No other man, woman or child can make this claim. If you want to follow the truth and only the truth for your life, there is only one place to turn. There is only one word to obey. There is only one hope. Everything else, it turns out, has been compromised.
We do something subtle in the English language that I think speaks volumes to how we think of ourselves and treat others in respect.
The pronoun ‘I’ is the only pronoun capitalized. But this wasn’t the original intention. After very brief research, it seems the only reason it was changed was because i (lowercase) didn’t stand out enough when written. We have the word ‘a’ that remains lowercase, but i became I so it could be more easily noticed.
I might not have thought much more of that if we didn’t also do something peculiar with the word ‘you’. We completely take it away. Its called the understood you. So, I can say, ‘go to the market’ and the ‘you’ remains absent from print because everyone simply understands what I meant, so I shouldn’t have to say it.
Did you catch that? ‘I’ needs to stand out and be noticed, while ‘you’ needs to remain hidden. ‘I’ is the exception to the rule. And we know how to do that so very well.
I’m reminded of the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18, who after being forgiven his massive debt rounded up those who owed him smaller debts and refused to forgive them. He was a capital I. He sought mercy when he couldn’t pay. It was all about him. And once the mercy was received he sent the lowercase ‘you’s’ to jail because it was still all about the important capital ‘I’. They owed him money.
He simply couldn’t understand how they could be in the same boat he was in. They had families and needs and sicknesses and circumstances and they cried for mercy just as he had. This is exactly what happens when I am capital and you are lowercase… or even worse, you aren’t even on the page with me.
It’s in how we write and talk, It’s in how we drive, how we treat each other online, it’s even seen in the churches… we just can’t stop admiring that tall, slender, capital ‘I’. There are so many scriptures to quote about how God intended for us to treat each other that I feel like just handing over the Bible should cover it. It’s everywhere. It’s in every book, in every timeline, in every parable. Both Old and New Testament, both before and after Jesus..
Even as Jesus hung from the cross he found a moment of compassion and made sure someone would take care of his mother after he finished dying.
We have spent so much time learning how unique and special we are, we forget that everyone else is too. And while there are some good lessons to be learned about how God created us as individuals and why… it kind of lets the air out of the balloon when we consider that if every single one of us is special, then the very thing we all have in common is our special-ness.
In other words…. none of us are special because we all have something special. Special is common among God’s creation. Instead of finding our servant and demanding what is ours, we are meant to forgive as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32, Luke 6:31, John 15:12, Matthew 7:12, Romans 12:10… and so, so many more)
What an amazing verse, that Romans 12:10… ” Outdo one another in showing honor ” Its a contest to come in last place. By our standards, we need to concede. We should yield. Words that don’t sound positive at all… lose, forfeit, surrender, sacrifice.
Ah, sacrifice. So many verses in the Bible talk about forgiving as we have been forgiven. Just like the unforgiving servant. A sacrifice has been made for us as well. Should we accept the sacrificial lamb and then refuse to sacrifice for others? I don’t believe that was the spirit of the gift.
I believe we are meant to deflate the I. It’s time to put you back on the page. The most significant man to walk the earth made himself insignificant with us in mind. He did it completely so we could have some significance. Our response is not to demean or belittle others.
There is an age old lie being whispered to your inner conscience. It was told to Jesus when he fasted for 40 days. I will make you a king. I will give it all to you. Others will serve you. You will never want again. Look at how big and shiny that ‘I’ is. Nothing can compare. You deserve this. Those insignificants can’t take that from you…
We are supposed to be fighting. It is a war. But the battle is to lift each other up. To outdo one another in showing honor. To lover greater, sacrifice more, and forgive first.