Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our priorities vs. God's priorities

Lately I have really been struggling, and it scares me. It scares me to feel this way- and live in a world that definitely does not agree with these particular feelings.

Never before in our lifetime have people needed to see Christ in us more than they do now. I believe if you were to peek inside the windows of the average American families lives you would see that we have been sold out, bought, by the idea that money equals happiness. If you want to succeed in your career, or in a sport, or in whatever, you know the drill, right? Work long hours, focus, train, be prepared-keep your eyes on the prize (the prize meaning making loads of money, having lots of power). And, truth be told, that approach works to some degree. In all likelihood, you will end up pretty good at whatever you're determined to be good at. You'll be successful, at least by some definitions of the term. Your accomplishments will be noticed. Someone will see you as worthwhile and you will matter (at least when someone wants something from you). So, we hustle along, routing our road to success. We get out our calendars, our daily planners, our blackberries and we detail out the plans of our lives. We let no one get in our way and no one stop our plans from happening .Yet even with our best intentions, how often do we fail to include the most important person in our plans- God? You see- here is the problem- self interest crowds God out. I think if we are honest, when we look back over our plans they almost always are geared towards comfort- OURS. We want our plans to pan out so that things will go our way and be easier for us. But often times while we are focusing on our lives being easy, comfortable, good- we become lazy, useless to God. And worse yet, it leaves little time, little room, for us to care about those that God cares about the most- “the least of these”.

Sometimes I look around me and I feel like my insides are screaming- I want the world to wake up and see that they are being lied to-that ‘things’ do not bring happiness. That true happiness is not found in a large bank account. We have all heard the saying you can’t take it with you when you go- then why are we still living as if we can? Our priorities are so far from God’s priorities- and can I let you in on a little secret? Being successful, making triple digits, being able to go out and buy the latest gadgets-the best of everything- does not make you a good person. Dressing in name brand clothing and driving a new car does not make you better than anyone else. And sadly I think that even some of our churches are buying into this too- making sure we have the softest seats, the best sound system and even fancy coffee shops inside the building! I don’t believe it is wrong to desire things that will better our lives, but these desires can become a trap when they replace our focus on God. But you know what - God ALREADY KNEW we would fall for this... Luke 16:13 For neither you nor anyone else can serve two masters. You will hate one and show loyalty to the other, or else the other way around--you will be enthusiastic about one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
So you see, it’s not about being successful in terms of money and things. It’s about being successful in God's eyes. We forget that God doesn’t give a hoot about our social status, our 401K or where we are on the corporate ladder. God is simply looking straight into our heart… and I’m afraid that more often than not he finds that they are already so crowded with greed, jealous, competition, and prejudice that there is no room left for HIM. The door to heaven is narrow. Work hard to get in, for the truth is that many will try to enter but when the head of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. Then if you stand outside knocking, and pleading, "Lord, open the door for us," he will reply, "I do not know you." Luke 13:22-30
And please understand that I am not saying that having money is a bad thing- it’s how you VIEW the money that becomes the problem. It’s how you think those without it are beneath you. It’s how you put HAVING MONEY over everything else. You hoard, you save, you count, you feel entitled- while others around you are suffering, hurting, starving, and sick. If God has blessed you with money and you are using it to serve others/bless others- then you are RIGHT ON. The problem begins when you desire things money can buy more than you desire doing God’s work. The problem continues when you no longer need God because you believe your money is enough.

So can I ask you today, no rather beg you today, - be honest and take a good long list at your priorities, your plans. What are they saying to others? What are they saying to God? Are you a part of the problem the world is having today? Are you a part of the ‘all about me’ club? Do you let the world’s views of success own you? I know I have such a long way to go, I am constantly being bought into this and trying to fight my way out. I am constantly praying that God will let me see things for what they really are. I pray that God doesn’t let me get too comfortable- to into myself- to be of any use for Him. I’m warning you though, this process, this change- does not come easy. And when it does- when you choose to not set your heart on the world’s definition of success you will find yourself on the outside looking in. Misfits who don’t seem to have a place in the world anymore... People will view you as different, sometimes crazy. But God- he will know it’s because you have your eyes focused on His kingdom instead."Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek, and those who hunger and thirst for just a taste of righteousness. Blessed are those who show mercy, and the pure in heart, and those who put themselves on the line to bring people together. Blessed even are those who are persecuted, insulted, and accused for no reason other than that they try to live lives that please their God." Matthew 5:1-10

So I guess what I am saying is the more time we spend with God and really get to know Him the more we will yearn to make his priorities our priorities. It makes sense. If you spend the majority of your time with the world and very little time with God it should be no surprise that the world is going to influence you more than the Lord. If we want to reflect God to a lost world, we have to spend time- significant time- getting to know Him. In addition to spending time with God, we also need to begin to be honest with ourselves. You and I need to be looking for areas in our lives where we are starting to compromise with evil. It’s hard to do. We must confront the excuses and rationalizations of our lives. Are we serious enough to do things God's way rather than our own? Are we ready to make real change within ourselves- and do a personal inventory of our lives? What excuses are we making and what are we attracted to that we need to run from? I will be honest and tell you that I can walk into the mall and literally start to drool. I love everything about the mall, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the cool new looks. But I hate what it stands for- so I hardly ever step foot into the mall anymore because I know that I am weak. I know that I have a hard time saying no to that Old Navy buy of the week. I know I will somehow try to justify spending money on something we did not budget for and I do not need. I know that I will somehow convince myself that I deserve that new shirt- even when I have 30 some shirts already in my closet. I don’t know what your weaknesses are, but God does. Ask Him and then expect Him to show you a clear picture. He will, I promise. He wants nothing more than for you to make room in your heart for Him.

Plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out more laborers to help you, for the harvest is so plentiful and the workers so few. Luke 10:2

1 comment:

kim p said...

Thanks for the challenging post, Amy! It is so refreshing to hear this truth being spoken. This is something that has been on my heart, too. I fall on the side of being very judgemental of those who are living for the emptiness of materialism. I feel alienated from our neighbors because our lives and what we're living for are so different. I struggle with knowing how to show them Jesus' love, because they seem totally uninterested in us. I'd love any thoughts or advice you have. God bless your family as you step out and serve Him in a way that's unpopular by the world's standards!