January Theme: New
Old World: Matthew 16:26; Mark 4:19; John 14:27
New World: John 1:1-4 & 9; Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:15
It seems everything we do and everything we strive for is to be presentable to the world. We get a good education so that we can be ready for the “real world”. We are disciplined at home so we can be ready for the outside world. The kind of adults, the kind of parents and perhaps even especially the kind of Christians we are must all be acceptable to the world around us – and quite often are frequently judged by the world around us.
We spend our time preparing ourselves, repairing and renewing what we have to offer – to our bosses, to our clients, to our instructors, to our students, to our children, to our parents and even to our family, friends and neighbors. Often we even clean our own homes based upon the perspectives of potential visitors. And many times even our self-help and Christian growth is based upon or at least influenced by what the world deems necessary. The world is always watching and subconsciously we constantly ask ourselves “am I ready for the world?” And so our every activity then also subconsciously becomes an answer, “I am trying to be ready for the world.”
According to the guidelines, examples and expectations of this world – that may indeed be working. Spiritually, I ask, is it also working? Matthew 16:26 says: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” And so every Sunday we attend church; we read the word of God, and we attend Bible study in order not to lose our own soul. But Mark 4:19 explains: “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel as if I lust after other things. I try not to let the cares of the world get the best of me. And I don’t feel as if I’ve been deceived by riches – how could I when I don’t have any? Still and yet, I have to admit there has been a bit of “unfruitfulness” in my life. And I remember when my old boss’ treatment of me used to consume my every thought. And admittedly I now spend a fair amount of time concerned about my finances and how I will get them in order to pay my bills… You see, “cares, deceitfulness and lusts” translate as such harsh words that we automatically reject them as things we are not doing. But when we truly look at the basic aspects of our lives, there is a fair amount of things of this world that enter in and perhaps choke out the word – making our worlds a bit unfruitful.
Do not be dismayed – there is hope – and it exists in the word of God. John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
In the midst of this world and all its cares and distractions, lusts and things – there is peace, not as the world gives it or perceives it, but as the Lord gives it. And it comes in a gentle reminder: John1: 1-4 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” And verse 9: “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Matthew 5:14 “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” Also, Philippians 2:15: “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”
Because of your profession or your vocation you may not realize that much of what we accomplish in this world is based upon someone else’s approval, permission or acceptance. Other types of jobs or career paths exemplify this blatantly and openly such as careers in writing, politics and the entertainment industry. My husband is an Actor. And in one particular conversation he casually made a comment that he knew “all odds were against him.” It made me stop and ponder that statement for a while before I asked him – “who told you that?”
Yes, Acting is a tough profession to crack into and do so successfully. But realistically he’s not doing badly at all. And in an industry that is governed by the choices of various, diverse people, who really sets the odds? And even if there was someone who had a precise mathematical equation they could run through a super computer and determine that the odds of my husband becoming even more successful in the industry are 1,000,000 to 1 – if God told him, yes, he would be even more successful, then those odds are in his favor because he would be that “1”.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama was giving one of his pre-election interviews in which the program’s reporter asked him, “Is the world ready for an African American president of the United States of America?” Without hesitation, Barack Obama said “yes.” And so now it is after the election and not only have we discovered that the majority of the world within the US is indeed ready, but that currently much of the world is waiting with excited – if not curious – anticipation.
How in the world could Barack Obama have been so sure? Because I believe Barack Obama knew many things beforehand – primarily I believe he was confident of his success. He was probably confident of how his light would shine throughout this world.
We easily sing “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” And we traverse the ways of this world as if indeed it is a little light. But a fantastic and anointed new Minister I know once said that our light is not little at all – even though we act like it is. Our light comes from Christ Himself and if we truly let it shine as big as a lamp in the darkness, perhaps the world would not even be able to look directly at us.
Say you have an old lamp that has been hooked up to a light switch every since it was new and you never knew it was a three-way. But your eyes got adjusted to the low level of light even though deep down you wished it was brighter. If someone suddenly turned up that light to its brightest setting, would your eyes be ready?
When I brought up Barack Obama’s interview response to my husband I asked him to consider thinking about his career differently and instead of meeting each audition wondering if this was his time or if he was ready for the part or if he was truly ready for this industry; to go into it boldly asking “Is the industry ready for me?” and confidently answering, “yes it is!”
And even as I said it, admittedly I had a hard time considering the same for myself. Yes, I "think" I can. But I too have to put away old perspectives of the world and the light I shine in it, for a new perspective of this world and a brighter, more confident, Christ-magnified light!
So instead of “are you ready for the world,” ask yourself is the world ready for you? Imagine what this world could be like if we all said “yes” – boldly and confidently through Christ.
© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones