The pendulum is swinging
Please explain the word extravagance. Test your thinking of
this concept by asking others (try to pick people who are rich, and people who
are poor...). As one would expect, we find vastly different perspective's of
the same word. A dictionary can assist us in pinpointing the literal meaning of
the word (excessive or elaborate, going beyond reasonable limits....) but
when it comes to the applying the word to different people's activities, we
are puzzled by so many views.
If you were asked to make a list of five 'great' people,
who would be on the list and why? What is the basis of greatness? What
constitutes greatness? (important, pre eminent, excellent...) We can
agree on the meaning of the word but we would each vote differently as to who
fits the bill? Why so many views?
Pick any subject and test the perspective theory...from the
maze of arguments and clever reasoning's you receive back, who is right
(balanced) and who is wrong? Of course, this question would be impossible to
answer without firstly acknowledging a standard by which we submit to and
measure by. We must have a standard or we have nothing but varied
speculation to work with.
Can you imagine the chaos which would result if architects
and builders were left to their own private interpretation of plans -– without
firstly establishing a measurement standard to which both must adhere? We would
have some weird and wild structures popping up all over town -– much like we
find within the Christian (religious) world -– some safely conservative, some
extreme, some completely out in left field. I am absolutely convinced that a
good chunk of what we term 'Christian' could more accurately be described as
personal preference, likes and dislikes...only emphasising the bits which suit
the individual, all with Scriptural backing of course...
And herein of course is the stumbling block -– the
Scriptures, the standard by which we measure, seem to say so many things to so
many different people eg. The gospel! Quite often, the good news is not good
news at all...it started out good and very positive news, but then was developed
The good news can be summed up simply: we (mankind) have
been separated from God through our sins! God wants to forgive us and have His
family back together...He has provided a solution to our problem, acceptance of
Jesus as our eternal Saviour. Acceptance of this 'gift' impacts life now,
and for the rest of eternity!
A common misconception is to believe that the good news
impacts 'after death', meaning from the time we choose to follow Jesus we
will live miserably until that 'blessed moment'. Of course there are plenty
of Scriptures which would seem to support this lamentable belief.
I've listened to pleading, manipulative, guilt shrouded
messages used to extract funds from 'the good folk to redeem the bad folk'...the
whole premise being that "we must do more (give more) or the blood of these
heathen ones will be 'upon your heads'...". If we think for a moment that
the responsibility for the success of God's wonderful plan of redemption rests
with error prone men -– think again. No man will be sent to eternal hell as a
result of a poor response to this months evangelism offering! The God of grace,
who made the sun stand still to help His people, caused a donkey to talk -–
because the man in the story needed motivation, created money from a fishes
mouth...is big and organised, and definitely not going to have his plan thwarted
by our interpretation difficulties! We have however been given the wonderful
task of spreading the good news!! And the good news is - if I give my life to
God I can be motivated by a legitimate long term view of abundant life...I can
create, I can work hard, I can up skill and develop, all with view to continuing
on into eternity!
The idea that we are getting people 'saved' simply to get
them into heaven and keep them out of hell is ironically short sighted for we
were created for God's pleasure, and the moment we get back on track with
Him we can expect His smile and grace to accompany our efforts -– now and
forever. THIS IS INDEED VERY GOOD NEWS! It is definitely easier to die for
Christ than to apply ourselves to our responsibilities in life, and live for
As Christian people in business or in some professional
career, or working for an employer, the 'good news' will colour our
activities -– we are lights in dark places, salt to season the moment, without
even trying to be.
It's so easy to be sidetracked from the truth of the 'simple
good news' by the add ons we construct. There's a saying, 'if you want to
make an enemy -– give a man more than he can ever repay...'. It's a little
like this with God's unmerited gift -– we'll turn ourselves (and others)
inside out, trying to pay for it! In a sense, we rebel from the way He has
John Wesley made an interesting statement which went
something like this "The message I am preaching will create an affluent
society (applying Gods principles or standards brings blessing)...but in time,
people will trust more in the affluence and prosperity than in God". Often
within the truth lies the seeds of it's own demise -– but this does not make
the truth less than the truth!
In John 6 Jesus mentions to His audience "You're not even
following me for the miracles I perform but for the food I create...". If He
were to challenge His 'varied bunch of followers' today how would He
question us "you're not following me for the relationship I desire, but to
get out of going to hell".
Lets close with a bit of a challenge. I've watched for
years as people desperately do things to try to please God. But how can you
please a God who has everything? I don't believe you can, except you discover
what He delights in. Amazingly, He delights in His creation...He delights in
blessing, in giving more, in shaping, in cooperating with the creation He
made to be creative!
I think we easily lose the plot at the point we abandon our
tremendous potential, our abilities, skills and talents...as we 'wait on God
for His next directive'. God put abilities within us and He gains pleasure as
we use them for His glory. Yes, humanists push the same message -– but
foolishly worship the creature rather than the creator!
We are not saved by our works BUT when we use our God given
talents abilities and potential to bring Him pleasure -– I believe He increases
His investment. If you have embraced the wonderful gospel of God's grace, have
fun stepping out into your blessed future!