Jesus spent most of His life with the people we spend most of ours trying to avoid.
Bob Goff, Love Does
Jesus spent most of His life with the people we spend most of ours trying to avoid.
Bob Goff, Love Does
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
I think it’s a well-known fact that among the readers of this blog that all things were created by God. The earth and everything in it was created by Him for His glory. Recently, I’ve been contemplating why humans should enjoy life. Life on earth isn’t an end in itself and that has caused me to question reasons for actually investing in life and enjoying how we live. Pretty much anyone would say that yes, we need to enjoy life. But why? Is it possible to enjoy life without holding on too tightly to the things of this earth? Should Christians enjoy life?
God created us to live for His glory. He created us with creativity and passion. He gave us desires for relationship with people. He’s given us so many gifts, so it’s an absurd statement to say that He does not want us to enjoy life. However, the topic of enjoying life is one that I believe people take to extremes. The first extreme is this:
1. You should not enjoy life on earth at all.
As I said above, this is not a logical thing to say. God gave us a beautiful earth to live in and He has given us passions and dreams to live out for His glory. He has given us gift after gift and it is a slap in the face to God to refuse these things and refuse to enjoy life at all. But, enjoying life has limits. Enjoying life does not mean we are to forget about God, but rather we are to live every moment in His presence, and there will be fullness of joy and perfect peace. When we have the joy of Christ, it allows us to further enjoy life because even when things are rough, we know that earth isn’t our ultimate destination. Enjoying life doesn’t mean that we worship the creation, but instead means that we are overflowing with thankfulness for the life He’s given us and the beautiful earth we live on. We must allow creation to spur us on into a deeper place of worship. Enjoying life isn’t about worshipping the creation as an end in itself, but rather it is about allowing creation to increase our worship of the eternal Creator. So, even though the earth and the things we have won’t last forever, we are meant to enjoy life on earth while we are here and we are meant to have hearts overflowing with thankfulness for the beautiful things we’ve been given.
2. Enjoy life now and don’t worry about God until later.
This is the opposite of the first extreme. All around us, we see people who are worshipping creation and worshipping the earth and all that’s in it. That’s how our culture tells us to be. God is quickly pushed to the backseat and His creation becomes the number one thing in our lives. This is wrong as well. In my life, I certainly have had times where I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy heaven, because I was too attached to the people and things of this world. Looking at that, I see how truly absurd it is to think that. Yes, creation is beautiful, but nothing on earth can compare to being in the presence of God. Enjoying life should be living every moment in worship and serving God. We should allow the beautiful earth and the wonderful gifts He’s given us increase the worship and thankfulness in our hearts. nothing on earth is meant to truly satisfy us. Food is a gift and a life necessity, but it’s not to be worshipped as an end in itself. Marriage is a gift, but it’s not to be worshipped as an end in itself. No person was made to bring our souls ultimate joy. No thing was made to bring our souls ultimate joy. Only Christ can do that. So, as you take a bite of your favorite food, praise God. Praise Him for giving you taste buds and for making the things and people that prepared your food. As you’re talking with your loved ones, praise God. Thank Him for the people in your life.
So, are you worshipping the Creator while enjoying creation? Or are you worshipping creation and pushing the Creator to the side? Enjoy life on earth, but don’t worship what you have as and end in itself. Hold loosely to all that you’ve been given here, but hold tightly to the Creator, who is holding you as well.
No, not physically.
If you read the book of Hosea, you’ll see that it is about a prophet named Hosea that God uses to showcase His love and relentless pursuit of us. See, God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute.
Go and marry a promiscuous wife and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the Lord.
So, Hosea went and married a prostitute named Gomer. Even after they were married, Gomer continued in her old life and continued to give herself to other men. But Hosea did not divorce her. He pursued her. He loved her freely even though that love was not returned to him.
I am Gomer and so are you. Spiritually, we are prostitutes. Even though God has saved us and called us, we choose to lavish our love upon everything else. Ezekiel 16 is a parable of the adultress wife of God. It talks about her and how he saved her as he passed by her and saw her laying in her blood, nearly dead. He saved her and she grew to be beautiful. He clothed her in His splendor. But, verse 15 tells us that His wife became confident in her beauty and she acted like a whore because of her fame. She gave herself to everyone who passed by and forgot what God had done for her. Verse 22 says that in all of her acts of whoredom, she did not remember her younger days when He had saved her. She turned the beauty God had given her into something to be detested. Something it was never meant for. As she gave herself to man after man, she was still not satisfied. She even bribed men to come to her.
While reading this chapter, I see a clear picture of myself. God picked me up, He saved me, He pulled me out of darkness and clothed me in His righteousness. Yet I go back to my old ways and continually look for things to satisfy when in reality, only God can satisfy. I play the whore, always cheating on my God, always looking for things to satisfy. Even when things do not satisfy, I continue to look for fulfillment in everything that is not Him. All of us have done this.
God begins to speak through Ezekiel to say that He will deliver His adultress wife over to her lovers. He tells her that they will ultimately destroy her.
Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever.
These verses in Romans describe God handing people over to what their hearts crave, and He did that in this parable in Ezekiel. In verse 39, God begins to describe the destruction that will come about when He hands his wife over to her lovers. He says that these things will come because she did not remember the days of her youth, when He first saved her and called her out of her death.
That is what God does to us. He pursues and loves us though we do not love back, but when we continually strive to be with anything other than Him, He lets us. He doesn’t forces us to love Him, but instead lets us go our own way. Then, we truly see the destruction it brings us when we leave Him and make other things our gods. When we worship things created instead of the eternal Creator. At this point, the story sounds hopeless. But isn’t God a God of pursuit and love? So why does Ezekiel say that He is delivering us over to those things that aren’t of Him? But, at the end of chapter 16, in verse 60, we see the beauty. We see hope.
But I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you.
He is still a God of pursuit.
A God of covenant.
He doesn’t forget us when He hands us over to the things we want. He loves us and His pursuit of us is never-ending. He has established His covenant with us and He will not divorce us–ever. Imagine you’re married and that your spouse made a commitment to you, yet continually goes everywhere else to find fulfillment. He/she sleeps with someone different every night and never talks to you. Would you still pursue this person? Would you still try to woo them with your love? Would you lavish gifts on them and show them you care for them, even while you’ve handed them over to whatever they want to do? I’d say you wouldn’t. I don’t think I could. Marriage is the way that God has chosen to show the clearest earthly picture of Christ and the church (us). I can’t think of an earthly relationship that involves more love than marriage does, and that’s how God designed it. But even though husbands are to strive to love their wives as Christ loves us, I would be hard-pressed to find a husband who would allow his wife to sleep with a new man every night, yet still love her completely. Who would still keep the promises he made on their wedding day. So, if we think that the love in a marriage relationship is great, just imagine how much greater God’s love is for us! He does not divorce us when we leave Him. He keeps His promise. He doesn’t chain us by His side, but constantly pursues us with His love as we run away and lavish our love on everything like prostitutes. His love for us is beautiful and unrelenting. And when we get a taste of that love, we realize that He is so much better than anything we could try to gain in this world. Living in and accepting His love is so much greater of a life than a life lived like Gomer, or like the woman in Ezekiel 16.
So, it’s time to stop playing the whore. Let’s stop being spiritual prostitutes and chasing after everything we think will satisfy. Because it’s not gonna satisfy–ever. Let’s remember where we were when He called us, and let’s live with thankful hearts because He has lifted us out of death and clothed us in His righteousness.
Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. he will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land.
“I am Peter. I mess up. I make mistakes. I am far from perfect, and God will use me. God will establish great things through me. You are Peter. God already knows that you will make a mess, but His plan for you is great. Go. Feed His sheep.” -Katie Davis
I remember being younger and listening to missionaries who came to my church or who were at a camp and thinking wow, they must really have it all together. They know what they’re doing. I would watch as they showed pictures of places they went and beautiful people they spoke to and they were like celebrities to me. People who had gone on short term mission trips or people who lived in other countries for years always astounded and captivated me. I thought that they were something special, I thought that they were a kind of celebrity in the Christian world.
Looking back, I see that I was so wrong. I certainly haven’t lived for years in a foreign country (yet), but I have been out of the country twice to spread the love of Jesus. And I do not have it all together. I have no idea what I’m doing. I thought that by the time I was a “real” missionary like these people I saw, I would have it all together. Now I can see that I couldn’t have been further from the truth. People that I had always labeled as “real life” missionaries didn’t have it all together, I’m sure of it. They were broken people, just like I’m a broken person. You’re a broken person. Just because we give people the label of being an actual missionary doesn’t mean that they’re more special or that we shouldn’t be missionaries right where we are. I always thought that if someone went out of the country to spread Jesus, then they were obviously much better and way more spiritual than me. Again, I was so wrong. Though I’ve only been out of the states twice, people at school and church often look at me and think I’m perfect. And I am not. Just ask anyone who’s close to me. I have struggles, I make so many mistakes. And I am FAR from perfect. People have told me before that they want to go to other countries and they want to be just like me, and being a foreign misisonary is great, if that’s your calling. But if not, do what God has called you to. Just because someone else’s calling seems like something you’d like to do, doesn’t mean it’s your calling. We are the body. And a body has different parts and they all work together beautifully. We are all broken people coming together and using our talents, creativity and passions to serve Christ. So, just because some people serve Him in in other countries, they don’t have it all together. None of us have it all together. We are all broken people constantly in need of our Savior.
The Lord said, “Because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service–yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules..” -Isaiah 29:13
Great post by my lovely friend Megan!