"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Entertaining Choices

It is very easy for us to devote our lives, an hour or two at a time, to being entertained.  Movies, games, sports, television programs, hobbies, eating out, vacations--none of these things are necessarily wrong in moderation. But when we let being entertained become the focus and the goal of our lives, we neglect our mission: to make and mature Disciples of Christ to the glory of God.

When our lives become all about entertainment, we forget our goal, our destination. A wealth of entertainment options can be used as a friendly attack by Satan. We are not openly persecuted much in the United States, but we are seduced into forgetting the great commission of Christ: to go out and make true disciples.

In Deuteronomy, God (through Moses) warned the children of Israel that their coming prosperity might be spiritually dangerous:

6:10-12) When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large flourishing cities you did not build, 11) houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12) be careful that you do not forget the LORD,  who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

In the United States, we enjoy a lot of prosperity as a nation. We need to heed the same warning. As our wants and desires are satisfied, we need to be careful not to forget the LORD, who brought us believers out of spiritual slavery. I’ve heard it said that if you look at your calendar and checkbook, you will see what matters most to you. Jesus taught that we should think twice about where we store our treasure:

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21

Jesus reminds us that this life is brief and inevitably crumbles, but eternal rewards last forever. I sometimes imagine that I am throwing my heart ahead of me, into heaven where Jesus is.

 Colossians 3 repeatedly encourages us to set our minds on eternal things, saying:

 “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2) Set you mind on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

That’s a great one to memorize or to write on a sticky note. There are so many shiny things competing for our attention, and so many voices trying to drown out the voice of our Shepherd, we need to be intentional about keeping our focus.

Hebrews 12:1-2 exhorts us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, where it says:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.”

The writer reminds us that Jesus lived against the tide, even dying a criminal’s death, for the sake of the eternal joy the Father set before him. He had to have his eyes on eternity (and not this world’s value system) to do that.

These Scriptures all point to an eternal perspective, and that’s what I am trying to emphasize in the book, “Milestones: On the Road Home.” We have a short time here on earth to invest in eternity. So I encourage asking ourselves questions as we map out our days: What will I contribute to the eternal Kingdom of Christ today? Will these activities build anybody up? Will I invite anyone into relationship (or closer relationship) with Jesus? Will my activities today please and glorify God?

To offer a very practical idea, I use and recommend sticky notes where people will be reminded every day (on the mirror, by the coffee maker, on a computer screen, or on the next page of the calendar) with a question like: How will I serve today?

There is a time for rest and refreshment, of course, and that is fine and even biblical (Luke 5:16 often; Luke 6:31 rest). But the thrust of our lives is to offer our very lives to God:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1.

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