This past week I posted the challenge to the right on Facebook. Facebook is in many ways a window into our society. People like to talk about themselves, complain about others or be otherwise negative. This is a direct expression of our sinful nature. We, like all those who lived before us, try to replace God with self.
In all honesty, this challenge was far more difficult than I expected. Be it on social media or in conversations, it is easy for me to talk about myself. I’m very thankful for what God has done through and with me. I am amazed every day that I am allowed to live the life I do. Yet, I know that my life is not lived for myself. We all live for God’s glory and pleasure. I hope I do an above average job of pointing out that reality on a daily basis. After all I believe that as a Pastor I have the most permissive lifestyle to proclaim this truth. Those who work in other vocations have a much more challenging job of doing this.
So throughout this week I tried to think about everything I did and said. When starting a conversation with someone and I was asked, “how are you?” I tried to be positive and not talk about how tired or busy I was. When posting on Facebook, I thought about the spiritual and social impact of every post. I can’t tell you how challenging it was to not post a picture of my newly mowed, lush, green grass. I didn’t post that picture because I wasn’t posting it to do anything but have people say, “oh how nice, you must do a lot of work.” I thought about posting it with a caption about the glory and splendor of God’s creation, but I knew that even if that was my intent, it would have led others to offer words that would have puffed me up.
I know that many people will think that this is a trivial change. In some way it is. Yet, small changes are important. I believe that far too often we focus on the grand gestures of our lives. We want to be those who go to the Middle East and make peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, all the while forgetting that we have animosity towards our spouses. We want to cure world hunger while passing up the opportunity to give one meal to a person through the local food pantry. I don’t want to sound like I don’t think that global issues aren’t important. They are and we need to continually find ways to participate in the solutions. Yet we also need to remember that we must act both globally and locally.
The old hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth and Let it Begin With Me” comes to mind. We can pray for peace love and justice. We can implore our officials to act with justice. Yet, in the end the only thing we are even close to having true control over is ourselves. Each of us is able to determine how we use the life we have been given.
My experience with this week-long challenge showed me one thing. Unless we are mindful of the effects our words and actions have, they will continue to have negative effects on
So today I want to pose a few questions for reflection:the world around us. Perhaps it’s time to wrestle with the hard reality that our culture is self-centered, negative, and divisive. Then we can figure out how we live as Christ in the world. Christ knew the sinful nature of humanity and worked to change it. He started his work, not at the cross, but the seaside. In his life and ministry, Jesus continually worked to change the lives of people with his message of love and hope.
- Do your words more often point to yourself or others?
- Are you seeking glory for self or God?
- Whom do you need to reconcile with?
- How can you help yourself from falling into the selfish, negative and divisive culture of the world?
Holy God, today we ask that you would transform humanity’s ways so that we can be about loving one another and You in a fuller way. Give us courage to act on every opportunity to make the world a better place that reflects Your kingdom. AMEN