It Catches Up with You
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a post about Football... If you don't care about Football please don't let the picture below keep you from experiencing the thoughts offered here, please hang in there through the first paragraph. -Neil
A couple weekends ago was opening day for the NFL, and for another year there was as much talk about the players who weren't on the field as there was about the one's who were. Over 30 active players and even a team owner are currently serving league issued suspensions. All but one of these suspensions stemming from issues having nothing to do with Football. For instance, that suspended team owner I mentioned just a moment ago, he is serving a 6 week suspension for driving under the influence of prescription pain meds. Or take Ray Rice (pictured above) who was suspended indefinitely (the latest rumors indicating permanently) when 8 month old video footage came to light showing a physical altercation between he and his then-fiance.
So what does this have to do with Christian living? I'm continually amazed that it surprises people when they discover that events in one part of their life cause serious ramifications in other, seemingly unrelated arena's of their life. The NFL just offers up further evidence that it is impossible to insulate the various aspects of your life from others. You may be able to keep it bottled up for a little while, but eventually what is going on in one corner of your life ripples across and impacts other aspects of your life. I didn't think that would be such a surprise to people, but I guess it is.
Too often we talk about "this part of my life" and "that part of my life". We discuss things like "my work life", "my social life" and "my family life" like we have multiple lives taking place simultaneously, but we don't.
But this isn't anything new, when we look at the bible we see people trying to do the same thing. For instance, Sampson, even before his run in with Delilah he was acting as though he could create a separation between the sacred and the profane, his role as God's champion and his companionship choices. Sampson was deceived into thinking that his romantic decisions wouldn't impact his ability to honor God and eventually that deception caught up with him. Or look at Ananias and Sapphira who thought they could separate their business dealings from their commitment to God, that didn't go so well for them.
When we stop and think it should be clear that we have a singular/unified life in which a multitude of interrelated events are unfolding. Are there different arenas in our life where expectations are going to vary. Absolutely. It probably isn't the best idea to treat our office environment the same way we treat our living room (which is probably the only reason why my shoes are on and my feet aren't up on the desk while I write this post at the office), but do the wins and losses, stresses and celebrations of the time spent in the office have an impact on me when I finally make it to the living room? You bet. And if I'm being incredibly foolish or rebellious in one area of my life is it likely that eventually that creeps into or unsettles an area of my life that I don't want it to? Absolutely. Even if we are mindful of all that, is it still incredibly tough to resist the temptation to claim small pockets of life for "doing what I want to do"? Absolutely.
I've been thinking a lot about the many ways that we are deceived into thinking about life as though it is made up of these smaller, distinct compartments. Places where we can indulge sin and quarantine it. This was the topic of my message last week as we continued our "Under Attack" series by talking about the danger of compartmentalization. If you missed it you can check out the video from Sunday here. Hopefully, you were with us over the weekend to be challenged to consider the idea that we are holistic beings whose spiritual, physical, emotional, mental, financial, vocational, social, and personal selves are all wrapped up together to make up this thing we call "life". Hopefully you were challenged to examine how easily we are deceived by this scheme of the enemy. And hopefully you were encouraged to examine your life and to give God authority in every aspect and arena of your life.
It would be awesome to hear your thoughts about the attack of compartmentalization and how you have experienced it and responded to it in your life. Please take a moment and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Student Summer Missions Trip
The youth mission trip to Tucson, AZ has been a great experience so far. We have had the opportunity to work at a couple of different sites serving a variety of ministries.
We have started a construction project at Westside Church of Christ to put in a baptistry, meanwhile some of our kids were able to wash the feet of homeless people and give them new shoes, and some of us have been able to serve a ministry that supports many refugees from Nepal.
The stories that I have been able to hear so far point to an already awesome experience and we are looking forward to serving the less fortunate throughout the week. Tucson is an area where only 4%-7% of the population are religious. They need to experience the love of Christ and so far we have been able to share the gospel with several people who do not yet belong to a church community. Thank you so much for supporting us through your prayers and those of you who contributed financially. I believe that this experience will change the lives of people in Tucson as well as our students who are serving. Please keep praying.....we have done a lot but there is still more to do.
Check back later this week for more updates from the trip!
So I made the mistake of clicking on the video posted by Elliot Rodger. In case that name does not ring a bell, Elliot is the young man who decided to travel to Santa Barbara last Friday, May 23rd, the day he referred to as “The Day of Retribution,” and execute as many young women and co-eds as possible. Before taking his own life Elliot fatally stabbed his three roommates and gunned down two young women and another young man in Isla Vista. Six young, promising lives snuffed out on one man’s desire to repay society for the injustices he claimed to suffer. In a YouTube video, the last he ever posted, he shared his hatred for women because in all of his 22 years not one young woman ever responded positively to his romantic or physical advances. He lamented in his loneliness and apparent jealously for others finding companionship with someone of the opposite sex.
While watching and listening to his rather lengthy, meandering, and misguided thoughts it became apparent that Elliot believed he was entitled to happiness and the lack of ever being with a woman caused him unhappiness. There was much more to Elliot’s video, but I could not get past this young man’s sense of entitlement. To him happiness (or lack thereof) was obviously of paramount importance, and that perceived happiness could only be found in the conquest of any woman who would respond to his advances. Mind you this was a young man who seemed to experience a fairly lavish lifestyle. His parents were both involved in the Hollywood entertainment machine; he walked red carpets, rubbed elbows with celebrities, drove a BMW. From an outsider’s point of view he seemingly had a lot going for him. But he was not happy and in his mind he deserved to be. So in his mind, because he was not any, all, and every woman must pay.
So, was Eliott correct in his belief that he deserved to be happy? Really, does anyone deserve to be happy? Is happiness in life the end goal of the human existence? Did God put humans on earth for the sole reason to find and experience happiness? I do not know if Elliot believed in God or not, but it seems safe to presume that his spiritual beliefs notwithstanding, he believed happiness was the prized goal of human existence and source of worth.
So, is it? Is God’s purpose for our lives ultimately measured in our individual happiness? Did Jesus leave his father’s side, come to earth, experience life as a human being, and die a horrific death, so you and I can be happy?
No. At least that’s not the message I get when I read the New Testament.
Happiness is something we as humans get to enjoy. To Elliot’s point happiness may be found within the relationship with a person of the opposite gender. However, Jesus tells us happiness is found in a life well lived in accordance to God’s will (Matthew 25:21ff) and in the repentance from sin (2 Corinthians 7:9). In the Old Testament men and women were happy in the birth of a child, a victory in battle, and God’s deliverance and protection from calamity. Clearly happiness can and should be experienced, but it is not our ultimate goal in life.
Even though the announcement of Jesus’ birth was a joyful announcement (Luke 2:10) he did not come to make anyone happy; he came ultimately to make us holy (see Ephesians 4:24; 2 Timothy 1:8-10). Hebrews 12:14 encourages all who believe to, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord (NIV).” Notice what this verse does not say, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be happy; without happiness no one will see the Lord.” Our happiness is very much dependent upon our external circumstances, but our holiness is dependent upon Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, and the resulting grace therein. This is why the apostle Peter, who was one of Jesus’ best earthly friends, could write, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16).”
The clarion call of the gospel message is to a life of holiness made possible only in a life with Jesus Christ. In fact, once we find our way to come to grips with God’s ultimate desire for us is holiness and we begin to live our lives under the authority of God through Jesus as revealed through the Holy Spirit then and only then will we experience true happiness; that happiness that is unencumbered by our external circumstances.
Do not fall for the lie that happiness is the key to life. It is not. Jesus did not emerge on the scene in order to make people happy. He emerged to bring them life; life eternal and abundant. He came to offer lost souls a new, better way than the world offers. He came to demonstrate that there is so much more to life than what we currently know and experience. He came to make you holy so life as you know it has purpose and your destiny is firm and secure in the hands of a faithful, just God.
Happiness is great. I admit, I long to be happy. I like to make people happy. But, when the pursuit of happiness supersedes one’s pursuit of holiness it can and will only lead to destruction. Unfortunately last week we all saw that play out. One man’s unstoppable pursuit of individual happiness drove him de-value the lives of women in general and to destroy any human life that crossed his misguided path.
Seek holiness and find true happiness.
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.