The pendulum is swinging
As a younger person I did a number of naughty things in order
to bring about personal prosperity. In one church in which my father was
speaking, while the local people enjoyed Dad's impartation, I slipped into the
church office and 'borrowed' the takings of the offering... my justification
was that I was not a selfish person and always assisted the needy in their
plight. In fact, I was only apprehended (weeks later) as I set out to help the
poor and needy within my own family... jealousy led to my undoing.
Perhaps my most devious act of dishonesty was as a
sophisticated teenager. I would pull the price tags off cheaper items, and stick
them on the items I wished to purchase, successfully creating a false economy
for myself... oh yes, young people -– most retailers are computerised now so don't
try this yourself. My point being, the devil (sneaky dishonest) has
done exactly this to the values of several generations of people -– who were
made in the image of God to serve God, but have been taken off track, and now
seek to serve only self interest. It seems rather inside out, but when we try to
'save our own lives' through our own means, we lose them -– but when we
lose our lives to Christ -– and His will, we find ourselves...Colossians 3:3
"But ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God".
To begin to understand this dilemma, we need to acknowledge
the 'ruler' or ruling authority within the world today as being none other
the sneaky one -– the devil. Biblically, for a space of time, God allows the
evil one to prevail, and the devil goes about his perverted business of putting
illusions in front of the eyes of God's creation. He takes what is valuable,
and causes it to be seen as cheap, and what is cheap he re-tags as being of
value and before we know it we have distorted prices/values within our
generation. Worse still, there is a new generation coming through who lack any
form of understanding as to the true value of basic human commodities like love,
stable relationships and a zest for life.
The good news is that God's remedy to the problem is, wait
for it - 'you and I'. God requires something of us??... is that to be
considered good news or bad news? I guess that depends on which value
structure you're buying into! "I was just putting my feet up to enjoy the
value of my TV... of course I don't even need to go to church now -– it comes
into my living room... it's so much better because I don't have to live in
the real world and deal with the challenges of other living souls... and 'my'
income is sufficient to live a caviar lifestyle, away from the maddening crowds...
best of all the local churches have finally got their act together and are
running programs to show the heathen world the folly of following after
materialistic dreams and false comforts...". What a joke -– and it's on us!
Jesus' call to 'follow Him' is not just echoing through the corridors of
time, neither was it limited to the twelve... the voice of the good Shepherd is
being whispered gently in our ears everyday - if we dare to acknowledge it.
Being the gentle Shepherd, He does not drive us, He speaks to us. Being obedient
sheep we follow. I think part of our problem can be identified right here -– He
doesn't force us to do anything. We normally respond to the pushy, or when we
have no choice.
Hmmm - the sheep analogy... maybe God used that for a reason?
Anyone who has dealt with sheep will know what I am hinting at... focused only
on the next paddock of green grass, finding the gate can be an unnecessarily
complicated business! If one sheep breaks from the group to 'have a go' over
here, others follow. And then another tries over there... some follow that one.
Meanwhile the shepherd stands over by the gate pondering the meaning of life...
This mentality is human as much as sheep...
In the world today the country which exemplifies success,
almost more than the rest of the world put together, is America the great. I
should mention here that the efforts of the early Pilgrim Fathers to place
correct value tags into society have all but been forgotten... not because they
failed, but rather because they succeeded! Sadly, the cumulative wealth
and prosperity is now worshipped, the creatures who have it are applauded and
those poor souls who don't are discarded. Proud liberal philosophers and
unashamed independent free thinkers sing a humanistic anthem of self-praise and
provide glossy projections of some type of future.
1 John 1:19 "And we know we are of God, and the whole world
lies in wickedness" -– literally: the whole world lies under the
authority of the sneaky one. The devil does nobody any favours and has only one
agenda -– which is not man's best self-interests!
In New Zealand we have a scarcity mentality -– "there are
just not enough resources to go around", promoting a tall poppy culture. If
there is any sign of somebody approaching success, we Kiwi's will verbally try
to bring them back to earth as quickly as possible! Outside of rugby, success is
unconsciously despised in my country! I am not at all wishing to reinforce this
victim mentality, I wish to applaud success -– however it must be qualified and
seen to be based in God's economy which will last forever! Lets check out the
America the great, where happiness and the pursuit of the
American dream makes for abundant life? The happiest people on earth, the most
pampered planet people are actually the most depressed - the happiest
constitution being read by the saddest people - a prozac society worming it's
way into the existence of teenagers and toddlers. The land of opportunity - or
The richest 1% has more wealth than the poorest 90% combined...
It is a false economy -– but we turn the blind eye, perhaps hoping that we will
also experience 'this miracle' in our own existence. America has 5% of the
world's population and yet uses 30% of the world's resources...hey? The land
of the free? With a jail system overloaded by more demand than any other country
in the world, somebody handed the reigns of justice into the hands of
entrepreneurs and business people... what's that all about?
The Western World worships a 'god (small g) of prosperity'
- which will let us down. Some of our preachers rightfully teach that God
prospers His people, but wrongfully fail to discern the switched value tags!
Christians are often left chasing the wrong commodities...
The voice of the gentle Shepherd can still be heard. Anyone
who buys into fairy tales unwittingly plays Russian roulette, and the game has
been running for some time! This week I heard Marcus Arden speak on the lost art
of honouring one another -– treating people the way God has shown us to treat
people. I need to get the price tags of my thinking re-valued, and I thought I
was Christ-like. Some of the essential commodities of life have all but
disappeared! I believe I'm 'saved' -– I just need to become a Christian!