EarthBasic. Take care. Bless many.
Read |Matthew 6:21|
I have just survived Christmas? Have you? Though Christmas ought to be Jesus centered, there sure are a lot of distractions. We and our children are bombarded with advertisements of latest fads. Flesh plays its part and we want the latest versions of devices, or even automobiles, and Christmas seems the perfect excuse to acquire it. On top of that, traditionally it’s the time of year when we may seek to improve the aesthetic quality of our living quarters which may mean changing furniture, painting walls, deep cleaning, and landscaping our yards (for those of us in the tropics). Another common tradition is the assembling of family and friends for special meals, usually including the more expensive kind. It is the one time of year where we may use our best china and crystal. We end up spending a lot of money and conversing with persons with different political and religious views. Many times hurts of the past and present are raised, and with them come difficult conversations. A lot of boasting and self may come into play. What a time!
Scripture is full of entreaties to, at all times, keep our eyes focused on God and not on the things of the world. One such reference is from 1 John 2:15-17. We might have read it, even know it by heart, but do we really apply it? It may not be easy, but the consequences of disobedience is damaging beyond belief (pun intended).
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions – is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does the will of God remains forever. (CSB).
The Christmas season inspired me to read "Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Though I had watched and read the many versions of the story on TV and in Children’s books, I had never before read Dickens original words. Now I am seeing the lessons Dickens is trying to make in a new way. The main character is Scrooge who, as his name suggests, had developed into a very mean and miserly old man because of his love of money. He was uncharitable, unfriendly and unjust with his family, neighbors, associates and employees. His work partner Jacob Marley, who had died years ago, seemed to be of similar character. Dickens causes an encounter with Scrooge and Jacob in an eerie scene:
“You are fettered,” said Scrooge trembling. "Tell me why?"
When we make things, self and even family our idol, we forge for ourselves a chain that binds us. The weight and length of it leads to disharmony, anger, disagreement, debt, and ill well. Without repentance and submission to Christ, the chain continues to grow, clouding our vision more and more and eventually it separates us from God eternally.
Many persons forge their chains as they continue to dabble in their lusts until their very lusts are entrenched within them. Some, like Scrooge, do not feel their chains unless there is a spiritual encounter, but most do. They know they are unhappy and weighted. They feel guilty. They try a number of things to rid themselves of the feeling of chains. Some use alcohol and drugs. Some try joviality or extreme behaviors. But still, in their private moments the pain and the weight does not go away. Then they embark upon the most dangerous path that the Enemy lays in front of them; they blame the notion of God for their guilt and chains and deny themselves of the very One that can free them. It is the most dangerous declaration they can make in their hearts; “If there is a God, he does not care or interfere” or “God does not exist”. If you are such a reader, did it work? Don’t you still feel those chains? They are heavy and burdensome, aren’t they? God did not put them there: the Enemy did with the help of the lusts of your flesh. Only Jesus can make the difference! Make Him your treasure and you shall be liberated!
For those of us who have been promised saving grace, I wish we could say we are unaffected. The truth is that we sometimes take our eyes off Jesus to focus on self. We dabble in the things of the world. We don’t realize it, but our hearts sound like: “I want this, I want that. I want it my way and my style.” Our self-centered mistakes do not come without consequences. It can affect our relationships with family, friends and church and even with Jesus. It affects our ability to carry out the mandate of the Kingdom of God, which is to spread the Gospel of Christ. Instead of shining the Light of God, we shine disdain and ill will. God is so good to us. He is full of grace and mercy. With sincere repentance and recommitment we can continue upon the heavenly path. We have been given the Holy Spirit so that we may benefit from Godly discernment and be empowered to live for Him, even with the pull of this world. He has given us scripture to counsel, guide and instruct. God wants us to have a healthy attitude towards things, self and family, but that health only comes when Jesus is the centre of our lives, the apple of our eyes, as it were.
A new year is upon us. The world promises to become stranger as it preaches the notion of ‘self- centeredness’. The world’s message is loud and clear - “You can BE or HAVE what you WANT”. Let us, the Children of God, who live in the world, but are not of the world, march with time toward Jesus’ second coming. Let us intentionally work, with the blessed help of the Holy Spirit, to become more Christ-centered!
1. Consider the wise counsel of scripture by applying the S.O.A.P method to each of the verses below. Try one a day!
2. Join the discussion in our Be-Held Book Community about our relationship with God, self, others and things, as we read "Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much" by Ashley Hales.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is an educator, Christian education youth coordinator, author, singer, workshop and retreat leader, speaker and founder and president of EarthBasic. However, she is first and foremost a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. You can connect with Carolyn on facebook, Instagram and here.