And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:23 ESV)
Have you ever wondered how much hope you have to know and love God because you’re a middle class American?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to romanticize poverty and I am so thankful that any “oppression” I might face is nothing compared to pretty much the rest of the world. I’m not begging for trouble.
But I also feel like I understand what Jesus is saying here. It’s so easy for me to rely on other things. To ignore God.
I feel bummed out.
Time for pizza!
My friend is mad at me.
Let’s go shopping!
My job stinks.
Go back to school!
Hello, Facebook. Pinterest. Twitter. Tumblr………..Crap, it’s 3am.
I have the money and resources to theoretically solve all my own problems. Oh, you know except the problem where I’m separated from God by my sin and returning to him and loving him is the ONLY thing that really matters in life at all.
But I can just ignore that problem….. with facebook, pinterest, tumblr….
It’s so incredibly easy for all my thoughts to be superficial or any deep thought or emotion tp be drowned out by distraction.
And there’s a highly customized brand of distraction for everyone out there, but I think that’s another post all on it’s own.
And if there is any problem I seemingly can’t fix? What’s the answer?? ………More money.
Or, at least, that’s the American answer. We all say that, “money can’t make you happy,” but I sometimes feel like we don’t really believe ourselves.
Thank you, Ron. That is very true.
This “first-world” is the world in-which I live, but how can I know God when my comfort and ease threaten to devour me? (not unlike a roaming, roaring, lion)
Some very practical things come to mind.
1. Turn my heart and mind daily (sometimes, hourly) to Christ.
I don’t know why, but I have always felt like I kinda stunk at reading my Bible everyday (More on this later). I’ve been a Christian for 24 years and have only recently discovered the awesomeness of connecting with Scripture consistently. Some days – let’s face it, most days when you have littles – it’s a real challenge to make the time, but I love those tiny people so much better when I make the time to talk to God and get some perspective from His word. It is the single most impactful thing to get my eyes off the stuff, the worries, the fluff of the world and on to truth, love and hope.
2. Memorize what the Bible says.
Another one I have only been on and off successful at, but it’s also one that most recently has transformed my life.
I feel bummed out.
Why am I so discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise Him again – My savior and my God! – Ps. 42:5
What can I be thankful for?
My friend is mad at me.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:18
I wonder how I can make things right with them?
My job stinks.
Do all things without grumbling… – Philippians 2:14
I’m thankful for what I have and I wonder if I can do something to enjoy my job more?
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for goodworks, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
What can I do right now to honor God?
3. Commit to obedience, even if it costs me… or worse, makes me uncool…
There is a lot about being a Christian in America that can make you popular or cool. There are some social bonus points – or votes in the case of some politicians – that you can get by being religious or attending church. However, there are lots – lots and lots – of things that will make you really unpopular by being a Christian, by believing and adhering to the Bible. If I really want to know and follow Jesus, committing to obeying his word will do a lot to keep my focus on what’s important.
4. Do life with people who really know Jesus themselves and are living for him.
I’ve mentioned several times now that I have only recently found a lot of depth in my relationship with God, and it is without a doubt the result of spending a lot of time with people who are really wise and who are committed themselves to following Jesus. My parents did an amazing job raising my brothers and I and were awesome examples of what it looks like to follow Jesus. However, once I became an adult, I fell into the trap of arrogance – thinking I had the Christian life figured out. My arrogance only created distance between me and God. After facing some tremendous failures in my own life, I connected with some people really trusting and following Jesus, and I was able to start from scratch on walking with God.
5. Sacrificially serve.
I’m not really talking about volunteering a few hours on the weekend at your local shelter – although that is really great! I’m more talking about helping that really annoying co-worker, cooking dinner and letting your husband rest (even after you’ve had a long day with the kiddos), playing that game your kid loves for the 5th time today, calling your mom (even though you know she’ll bring up that thing she always does), giving when you don’t have the time, helping when you don’t have the energy, laying down your life for the good of others, as an offering to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Oh…. and give your money away. That’ll help. Not just to charities, but friends, your church, coworkers, your leaders at your church – my experience has been they don’t typically have a lot of “fun money.” Leave a gift card on their desk. Drop off a bag of date-night stuff on the door step of a couple with a new baby.
There’s obviously more you can do to keep your eyes focused on Jesus, but those things are my top 5, I guess. Haha!
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. – 1 John 3:16