I read about believers in other countries who suffer untold hardships because of their faith and they are joyful! I read about the early church and men tortured and thrown in prison where they sang for joy! I read about an elderly woman who could barely walk, had little money for food or necessities, had every reason to complain, and she was happy!
The first shall be last, the last shall be first. Blessed are the poor. It’s easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get to heaven. Don’t love the world or the things in it. Count it joy when you suffer hardships. Love your enemies.
In America we crave comfort, we work hard to provide for the needs of our families, we esteem celebrity and avoid the down and out. We want to be first, not last. We want to be rich, not poor. We want to avoid confrontation, pain, hardship, even slight discomfort. We want, we want, we want…
What does Jesus want? What does Jesus say we should want?
A little snippet from James chapter 4: “You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that ‘he’s a fiercely jealous lover.’ And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that ‘God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.’ So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud ‘no’ to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.” (The Message)
The first half of an excellent study by Beth Moore, called Daniel, focuses on the fact that American Christians live in a kind of Babylon. Daniel and his three friends were in the culture but did not let the culture in them, and we are called to do the same in our American Babylon. Perhaps it’s even harder for us – we weren’t carted off as teens from another culture and placed here. We’ve grown up in it. It is all in and around us.
Recognize, purge, shift, realize, adjust, change… Rinse, repeat. Challenging.
I’ve got a journey ahead of me.