Overcoming the Worldview of Doom and the Culture of Fear – The Path of the Cross – Purity 741
Purity 741 05/26/2022 Purity 741 Podcast
Today’s photo of cumulous cloud filled blue skies over Waite road comes to us from yours truly as I captured this scene Sunday afternoon on the return trip to my countryside home while out walking my off camera canine companion, Harley. Harley enthusiastically begs to be taken for walks and when the weather is pleasant I try to remember to bring my phone so I can grab some photos to document the beauty of God’s creation. Harley’s enthusiasm often causes me to grab some random shots on the go and I often don’t really know what I am capturing until after the fact.
Although I have grabbed and shared lots of photos on Waite Road, I believe this was the only time I happened to capture the cross like utility pole that borders this section of our path. And today it has helped me collect my scattered thoughts on the importance of walking on the path of Christian Discipleship in maintaining our peace and joy in life.
If you haven’t noticed, the overall orientation of the news creates a culture of fear. The news adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” points to the fact that while there is an unlimited amount of current events and facts that could be reported, the hard truth is that the news stories that involve violence or that prey on our anxieties are the ones that get the highest ratings and thus will be the ones that are focused on and repeatedly told.
I am sharing a link to a Deborah Serani article on Psychology Today.com from 2011, that provides some insight into how watching the news “could undermine our physical and mental health.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/201106/if-it-bleeds-it-leads-understanding-fear-based-media). Serani’s article states that:
“It's been said that fear-based media has become a staple of popular culture. The distressing fall-out from this trend is that children and adults who are exposed to media are more likely than others to
· Feel that their neighborhoods and communities are unsafe
· Believe that crime rates are rising
· Overestimate their odds of becoming a victim
· Consider the world to be a dangerous place”
So how do you think we did in the 11 years since this article was written?
Not so good, as the news industry has increasingly been crafted to not only lead with what bleeds but has been politicized to cater to a network’s political audience. The view of current events now depends on the source you receive the reports from. This has caused a general distrust of the media and their “fake news”.
This phenomenon and our increasingly contradictory post Christian society that denies the wisdom of common sense and Biblical morality had me thinking of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, and phrases like “double think” which Orwell’s novel described as:
“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, … (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublethink).
“Doublethink” is the soup du jour in our society as it stresses “Coexistence” and “Diversity” which not only recognizes the existence of differing views, religions, and lifestyles but attempts to suspend discernment by subtly implying that all the various options in these aspects of our lives are equally valid, and thus true.
While our relativistic society pushes “individual truth”, “what’s true for me is true for me, what’s true for you, is true for you.”, logic and reason insist things that contradict one another can not both be true. Sometimes we need to recognize the truth that opposing views can’t both be right.
But in our politically correct society that seems to be able to “tolerate” all views except Biblical Christianity, the cardinal sin, if they were indeed allowed to categorize something as “sin”, would be to tell someone: “You’re wrong.”
As appealing as it would be to go around telling everyone they are wrong, as Christians we have to be wise and discerning in how we “speak the truth in love”.
The Lord will use the word of God to convict people of their sin and bring them to faith in Christ. Our arguments won’t do that. Our being a jerk won’t do that.
So what are we supposed to do?
Well we are supposed to live as disciples of Christ. We are to walk on the “Path of the Cross”, that’s what I got from today’s photo, by rejecting the world’s narrative of the state of reality and focusing on the truth of God’s word and by applying God’s wisdom to our lives.
Limit your exposure to the news and pick up the word of God and live by it.
Jesus Christ attested to the ability of God’s word to change us and of It’s truth in:
John 17:17 (NKJV)
17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
So while the world is trying to “tell you the news” and some may be advocating for changes to our world through governmental means because of the bad news that is constantly before us, and are, as John Mayer sang about, are “Waiting on the World to Change”, the Lord is directing us to be changed by applying His Truth to our lives by making Jesus our Lord Savior and by following in His Ways.
To overcome the world, we have to overcome the lies of the world by recognizing the truth that “all roads do not lead to heaven”, that all beliefs, lifestyles, and behaviors are not all equally valid, and to know that what some call acceptable, legal, or good are actually evil according to the word of God.
The good news is that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, but with that good news comes some really bad news.
The bad news is that we can’t change the world. We can’t convince everyone of the truth of God’s word. And We can’t save everyone and establish God’s kingdom on the earth.
If we could there would be no need for Christ to return and God’s word assures us that He is coming back and that things will get worse before He does.
But don’t forget the hope of the gospel, we can be used by God to bring some into His kingdom before He comes back to judge and rule the earth. And in spite of the culture of fear that is proliferated all around us, we can still experience peace and joy in this strange new world regardless of the circumstances when we focus on the Lord and walk in the Spirit.
Our faith is a faith of hope. We have hope in Christ and in His return, but we also have the hope that we can experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives when we make the decision to repent of the world’s ways and turn to God’s ways.
We also have the hope that God has prepared us for good works, to have a purpose on this earth: to help people and to be used to show them the truth of God’s word and the “good news” that Christ overcame the world and that through Him they can be given rest and peace in the here and now and eternal life with Him forever.
So focus on the good news and keep walking and talking with God. It’s not all doom and gloom out there, but to know peace and joy in a world that focuses on the fearful aspects of our experience, we need to know the peace that goes beyond all understanding by being reconciled to God by the Prince of Peace, and to be in harmony with Him by continually walking in His ways.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
John 14:6 (NLT2)
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Today’s Bible verse is Christ telling us that He is the only way to God the Father.
Here Christ makes it abundantly clear that there is one way to be reconciled to God, Him. Christ is the truth that has to affect our lives. Christ is the way to eternal life and the way to life and life more abundantly.
There is no peace without peace with God and Christ’s death on the cross for our sins brings it to all who put their faith in Him.
Of all the many options in this world, Jesus is the One way to peace with God and life everlasting. That may seem narrow but Christ said in:
Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV) to
13 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
It's not easy to come to faith in Christ. In fact apart from God’s grace and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, it’s impossible! But if he has revealed to you the truth of who Jesus is, we simply must accept Him as our Lord and Savior and make the hard choice to experience the Life He has for us by living according to His Way.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
4. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning enough money to keep us from depending on others, while focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than financial rewards.
God intended from the beginning that satisfying work would provide for our needs. God worked at the beginning (Genesis 2:2), and the humans he created in his image would work. Before sin entered the world, that work would be without futility and frustration. It would unite beautifully with God’s abundant provision to meet every need. It would make the earth subject to man’s material needs without ruining the earth (Genesis 1:28). At the beginning, the homestead of man was a garden of fruit trees, not a hard field to be plowed and planted. “Out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food” (Genesis 2:9). Not only that, “a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden” (verse 10).
Happy Work Before the Fall; Then Sweating and Fretting
In this all-supplying paradise God said, at first, “there was no man to work the ground” (verse 5). Then he made man from the ground, and, in his creation, Adam became a son working with his Father in the stewardship of creation. The essence of work was not sustenance of life. God gave himself as the sustainer. Man was free, not from work, but in work, to be creative without the anxiety of providing food and clothing.
What changed with the entrance of sin into the world was not that man had to work, but that work became hard with the futility and frustration of the fallen creation. The Lord said to Adam:
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground. (Genesis 3:17–19, emphasis added)
When man and woman chose to be self-reliant and rejected God’s fatherly guidance and provision, God subjected them to the very thing they chose: self-reliance. From now on, he says, if you eat, it will be because you toil and sweat. So they were driven from the garden of happy work to the ground of anxious toil. The curse under which we live today is not that we must work. The curse is that, in our work, we struggle with weariness and frustration and calamities and anxiety. And all this is doubly burdensome because now by this very toil we must keep ourselves alive. “In toil you shall eat of the ground.… In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.”
Christ Took the Curse on Himself, and We Are Being Freed
But hasn’t Christ come to lift the curse from his people? Yes. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ ” (Galatians 3:13). However, the curse is not lifted totally all at once. God saves us in stages. Christ delivered a mortal blow to evil when he died for sin and rose again. But not every enemy is yet put under his feet. For example, death is part of the curse we still experience. Christ conquered death for his people, but only partly now. We still die, but the “sting” of death, the hopelessness of death, is removed because our sins are forgiven in Christ and he is risen (1 Corinthians 15:54–55)!
Similarly, we must still work hard to provide for our needs. Christ says, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25, 32–33). He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He says, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). In other words, God does not want his children to be burdened with the frustration and futility and depressing weariness of work. That much of the curse he aims to lift from us even in this age.
Paradise Is Not Here Yet
But just as death will be a reality to the end of this age, so must we work in this fallen age against many obstacles that often make work hard. Not yet may we return to paradise and pick fruit in someone else’s garden. That’s the mistake they made at Thessalonica. Some were quitting their jobs and being idle because they thought that Christ would come very soon. Paradise was at hand. So Paul wrote to them, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some of you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12). Able-bodied people who choose to live in idleness and eat the fruit of another’s sweat are in rebellion against God’s design. If we can, we should earn our own living.
How then do Christians make much of Christ in working “to earn their own living”? First, by conforming willingly to God’s design for this age. It is an act of obedience that honors his authority. Second, by removing stumbling blocks from unbelievers who would regard the lazy dependence of Christians on others as an evidence that our God is not worthy of following. “Work with your hands … so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12). We honor God by earning our living because this clears the way for non-Christians to see Christ for who he really is. Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love. They waste their lives.
Do Not Labor for the Food That Perishes
Third, we make much of God by earning our own living when we focus not on financial profit but on the benefit our product or service brings to society. This is paradoxical. I am saying, yes, we should earn enough money to meet our needs. But, no, we should not make that the primary focus of why we work. One of the most striking things Jesus ever said was, “Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you” (John 6:27). Do not labor for the food that perishes! “The food that perishes” simply means all ordinary food and provision. So this is striking! It seems to say the exact opposite of what I am saying. What does he mean?
We know from all we have seen so far that Jesus does not mean it is wrong to earn your own living and eat your own bread. Evidently then, he means that when we work for the food that perishes, there should be a significant sense in which we are not working for that food, but for something more. In other words, don’t focus on mere material things in your work. Don’t labor merely with a view to the perishable things you can buy with your earnings. Work with an eye not mainly to your money, but your usefulness. Work with a view to benefiting people with what you make or do.
Christ has lifted the curse of work. He has replaced anxious toil with trust in God’s promise to supply our needs (Philippians 4:19) and has thus awakened in us a different passion in our work. We turn with joy to the call of Jesus: Seek the kingdom of God first and his righteousness, and the food that perishes will be added to you. So don’t labor for the food that perishes. Labor to love people and honor God. Think of new ways that your work can bless people. Stop thinking mainly of profitability, and think mainly of how helpful your product or service can become.
Do Your Business Dealings but Stay Free from Them
How do you get up in the morning and go to work not for the food that perishes—not mainly for the profit? This is really a spiritual discovery, attained through much prayer and longing. My words of explanation won’t make it happen. But maybe the Holy Spirit will use these words to advance your quest. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:30–31 that since we live in a time of great urgency, “those who buy [should buy] as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it.” I think this is another way of saying, yes, labor, but do not labor for the food that perishes. Go ahead and purchase, but act as though you have no goods. Do your business dealings, but stay free from them. The financial outcome of these dealings is not your life.
Say You Are a Stockbroker
Suppose you are a Christian stockbroker and have watched the market tumble. What it means to you not to labor for the food that perishes is that your true life is not jeopardized. Your peace and joy are not destroyed. Your resolve to do the best you can for your clients remains the same—even if you advise them to get out of the market and use their money a different way for God’s glory. You are not working for the food that perishes. Your goal is to enjoy Christ’s being exalted in the way you work. Jesus said, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.… My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:32–34). None of us in our vocations should aim mainly at the food that perishes—leave that to the Lord. We should aim instead to do the will of him who sent us. And his will is that we treasure him above all else and live like it.
The Christian stockbroker will say in the face of a falling market, “The main food I want from this job is still there. I am hungry above all to pass this test of faith and have a deep restfulness in the goodness and power of Christ. I am hungry to enjoy his name being esteemed as others see my demeanor and my integrity and give Christ glory.” And to that end he labors for the food that endures to eternal life. He labors, rising early for prayer and meditation and holding Christ near to his heart all day. In that security he thinks of the good of others and serves them. That is a wonder, not a wasted life.
Jesus calls us to be aliens and exiles in the world. Not by taking us out of the world, but by changing, at the root, how we view the world and how we do our work in it. If we simply work to earn a living—if we labor for the bread that perishes—we will waste our lives. But if we labor with the sweet assurance that God will supply all our needs—that Christ died to purchase every undeserved blessing—then all our labor will be a labor of love and a boasting only in the cross.
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship