When I was young I heard the message of the gospel and I responded. As I grew I read Gods word and I tried to respond as best I could. But yet as much as I tried I still had some worldly attachments that God did not want me to have. I did not want to remove these things I was “friendly with” from my life. These things I was “friends with” became a major source of strife later in life for me, my wife and family. As I type this I think of the following verse in James:
Submit Yourselves to God
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people,[a] don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us[b]? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”[c]
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up
So in my beginning I heard a message and responded. I read and learned but yet I still struggled against these things that I was “friends with”. As I consider all those years I think back and realize now when I heard the message I responded … but I responded mostly alone. When I read Gods word, I responded ….. mostly alone. I heard Gods message and I read (saw) Gods word… mostly alone. I had Gods word in audio and visual form but I did not have it in “living color” video. I think a lot of people are like this. They have the gospel of Jesus Christ on audio but not necessarily on video.
So this begs the question on how do we get the gospel in “living color” video and rather than just “learn and hear” Gods word? I think the answer lies in being in community with other Christian brothers and sisters. Coming along side them and shedding tears of joy and sadness. Having them support us and us supporting them. As we do this we are not just sharing biblical insights but we are sharing real problems, real concerns, and doing real life with each other. This community of grace then allows grace, mercy, and the support of Christian community transform us over as we live under the cross of Jesus Christ. As we intimately and safely share real life situations we transition from an audio Gospel to a living color video Gospel. We find that having the gospel on video begins to transform the mind in ways that only having it on audio could not do. Having the gospel on video now allows us to see how we have subtly judged other people that have different types sins than we had. It gives a complete paradigm and an agenda shift of the heart!
Getting the gospel on video, for me at least, also meant knowing and understanding all the worldly things I was “friends with” and how they worked in my heart. Getting the gospel on video did a lot more than just give me another new biblical insight (I had a lot of those). It offered me a complete shift in how I saw the agenda of my heart. I began to see all the things my heart was “attached to” that James describes as adulterous in James 4. You see James 4 is not discussing adultery in the sense that we see it in today’s world. It is talking about spiritual adultery. Spiritual adultery is about giving our first and primary love to other things that belong to God first and primarily. It also took this community of people to help me see all the affections of my heart that I was completely blind to.
So as I examined my heart over the years I found 2 categories of things that were taking my affections away from loving God first and primarily.
1. Worldly sins that I had to completely remove from my life
2. Wonderfully good gifts from God that I prioritized higher than God. In this category are things like desiring acceptance from my wife, family, coworkers, and friends
Over the years I have become pretty good and figuring out the first one. That one is obvious for most of us.
The second one I find much harder to discern. Even though I still struggle with fear of rejection and uncertainty (sometimes only paranoia of rejection) at times in this area I also know that God will never ask me to love my wife and children less. He does, however, ask me to love Him more. So as I think about James and my continuing efforts to get the gospel on video rather than audio, I see now that James is asking us for a shift in the agenda of our heart and affections. When I am discerning of the idols and agenda of my heart and replace this with a God that is BIGGER than those idols, I find out that if I am rejected by someone I am no longer devastated to the point of complete inaction. I no longer flee to my “things of safety” and my old sinful habits because I see a God that is bigger than the affections and friends of my heart. I am able to make steps toward communication and reconciliation rather than sit in my own self pity. To me this is major victory!
Finally (Foremostly), God has offered his son Jesus Christ so I can completely get off the spiritual treadmill of life and learn to discern the affections of my heart and to love under the freedom and victory of the cross!!! How wonderul is that! Having the Gospel on video gets me off the spiritual treadmill of life and having to prove myself to other people… even in good, godly ways! Perhaps having the gospel on video is the only way to discern our “religious idolatry and cravings”?
That’s my .02c worth for today!