…“Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
I recently listened to a fellow pastor share an encouraging word to his congregation via the internet. Speaking right before Christmas, and encouraging his church to stay focused on Jesus this season, he reminded them to remember the ‘joy’ of the season, but to not take it too far. This is itself is a great reminder.
As true Christians committed to Jesus and His ways, we should be able to find joy in all things. This however is only possible if we are focused on Jesus and not self.
The trouble in today’s modern Christianity is that pastors and teachers are all too often afraid to give people the truth in love, because the truth is sometimes hard, and often offensive. Let’s face it, if we are told that we are being selfish, that we are not focused on Christ, and that there are ways to draw closer to Jesus and really commit to Him in a more personal way, we can take this two ways: either we will look at these words with reflection and see that yes, there is room for improvement and humble ourselves before God – OR, we will take those words into our ears (ears that are so used to being ‘tickled’), and get angry, be offended. Man is not currently wired to be indifferent, we’ll choose one way or the other until our Spirit nature replaces that of the flesh.
But the pastor went on in his encouragement to enjoy Christmas. Don’t feel like you have to suffer (was his intended thought), don’t feel bad for having nice things he went on to say. And he’s right, we should not. God has blessed us all with much in this nation. But he did not stop there. He continued by saying, (direct quote) “You can’t not have (those) nice things!” Well, actually, yes, yes you can ‘not have nice things’.
Americans (generalizing) do not understand suffering. We know suffering. My comments are certainly not being made to belittle those who truly are suffering in this country, and yes there are many who are. But my point is that many who ‘think’ they are suffering, really need to reevaluate their lives. Yes, we can not have nice things. Sometimes a simple life is the one with the most blessing.
To me it is unfathomable that a pastor would tell his congregation, ‘you can’t not have nice things”. Think about it. It’s quite literally feeding materialism and greed, and taking away the possibility that God might have a plan in one’s socioeconomic home. God is in control after all isn’t He? Does this mean that those people who don’t have nice things are not God’s people? What is a ‘nice thing’, and who defines what a ‘nice thing’ is?
There are a lot of nice things in life than many of us would be better off without. The life that is filled with electronic brain stealers and time-wasters is one that up until one generation ago we all did without. Children watch more TV than ever, and spend more time gaming than ever before. The average male teen spends between 12-31 hours a week just playing video games. This is not counting other computer time or phone usage. One of the fastest growing trends these days in teen fellowship is ‘after hours’ teen gaming facilities! No more ‘clubbin’, now it’s gamin’. Don’t think that teenage girls are better because they spend less time gaming. They make all that time up, and more, on chatting on cell phones, texting (or worse), and social networking (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging etc.). Society, it can be argued, suffers for these ‘nice things’.
Do we need $45,000 cars or can we do with a $10,000 or $1,500.00 car and spend the difference supporting Christian faith organizations that help the needy in the name of Jesus? That’s the rub.
We need to humble ourselves, and spend some time trying to receive God’s good word. Even if we do not understand it all, or have trouble really getting things to come together in the application of what you read into your daily life, God hears. God recognizes, and if we truly seek Him as Daniel did, He will reward us with understanding. He will come in response to us. How can a loving Father do anything other?
The key point here is to recognize that we do not need to live lavishly to be a proper representation of Christ. We simply do not need to live lavishly. We do not need to have all the ‘nice things’, and that we can do without some ‘nice things’ in spite of what our hearts or minds tell us.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that video games, Facebook® or cell phones are ‘of the devil’. But each of these things, like just about any other thing that we are attracted to, can become at the very least a distraction of our attention, and at worst our own little gods.
Satan’s two most effective tools today, in my opinion, are these: distracting your eyes from Jesus (getting you to waste your time), and materialism. How are these things affecting your Christian walk?