May 13, 2012 at 2:37am
As I read the news, I see the many trials facing our nation and our world. Headlines scream everything from murder and theft to war, poverty, abortion and homosexual unions. So many things tear at the world today. It overwhelms us when we stand awash in the misery around us. As Christians, we are particularly troubled because we feel compelled to DO something about it, but it seems impossible to fight the battle on so many fronts. What do we say? Whom do we support? What tradeoffs do we make along the way?
Worse, we often find ourselves in contention with each other over which issues are most important, and how to handle them. Eventually, in our division, we settle on what makes us most comfortable with our position and denounce all those who do not agree with us wholeheartedly as un-Christian, squishy, or misguided. We refuse to be moved by reason, by mercy or by grace. While this may seem like finger wagging on my part, it is not. I have been guilty of this behavior in the past, and probably, God forgive me, will be in the future. It is in our nature that when things seem too complex, when the battle has too many fronts, we retreat to our comfort zone and dig in.
As I pondered this difficulty, it brought to mind a conversation I had with my father several months ago. Back when I first started going to Bible Study at church we were studying John and my father was studying Daniel. As we were exchanging thoughts on the Scriptures we were studying, he related a message from Daniel. He said that early on, Daniel decided that he would please God. It took a bit of conversation for the meaning of this simple phrase to sink in for me, but it is a sentiment that recurs in both the Old and New Testament. Today it brought to mind Joshua 24:15 “But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” We are built to allow God to have power over us. Something inevitably will, it’s our choice who or what.
As these two thoughts collided in my mind, the answer to the troubles I see before me clicked. The devil has many devices to take us off track. One of his favorites is to sow discord among us, and distract us with the world to make us take our eyes of Jesus. The Bible tells us, repeatedly, how to avoid the devil’s machinations, but we continually fall for his traps. I think the reason for that is that we know the world to be a complex system, and the answer is so very simple, if not always easy. When my father talked to me of Daniel, and in the above verse, God reveals to us the path to salvation is to always seek to serve the Lord. Jesus’ life was quite literally a perfect example of this simple but difficult step. We must decide that first and foremost, that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
It’s funny that this particular message was percolating this week. In those discussions I was having on Tuesday, the concept of doing the right thing came up, which brought that conversation with my father to the surface. The way he explained it to me, and I in turn explained it to my friend, is that in every situation the first and only question we should be asking ourselves is “Would this make God smile?” If the answer is no, don’t do it, if the answer is yes, then you’re on the right track.
My friends, I know that sometimes when emotions run high and opinions are dear, it is difficult to step back and ask what will please the One who made us. I know sometimes it seems we have wandered so far down darkened paths there is no choice that would please God. That is where faith comes in. God could not have been pleased with Daniel being thrown to the lions, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego being thrown into the fire. Yet they knew that this was their choice, to risk death or to go against what God had called them to do. They trusted that if they did what they knew to be right, God would provide another way. It could not have pleased God to watch His only Son suffer and die. Yet Jesus knew that was His choice, to follow the commands of His father and risk death. He had faith, committed His spirit to the Father and trusted that God would provide another way. He did.
For me, though it may cost me friends, though it may make me foolish in the sight of men, though I may one day lose everything of this world, I have decided that I will always do my best to choose to make God smile. Will you join me?
Has He placed a message on your heart? Has He given you wisdom that others need to hear? Share your stories, if not here then somewhere, that all may learn to choose His will. Be blessed, and be a blessing.