Do you have a journal? I have had a complicated, on and off again relationship with journaling for years. We’ve decided to stay acquaintances and catch up occasionally. That said, I do jot down many a note on my phone these days.
I vividly remember trying to break into my little sister’s teenage diaries when I was younger. They were like Fort Knox, protected not only by lock and key but also by mote and guard. More recently while moving house, I came across some old entries of my own from many years ago which were really challenging.
I would like to show you a piece from an entry titled ‘Life’:
“Last night I sat on my letterbox and watched the sun set over the roofline of the repeated brick and mortar jungle I live within. In the shadow of a day drawing closed I pondered and looked on as those around me returned home; mothers, tradesman, students, executives and grandmas. All with their own lives, their own thoughts and their own stories. Their exposure to the outside world is short lived as the garage door of security once more seduces them into another night of sub-cultured living. A world within a world, a place where each man reigns as king. Each with his own rules and beliefs. A place of love and life conception. A place of hope and nurture. A place of understanding and freedom… or so one would hope.
No one really knows what is written on the history pages of each sub-culture and no one dare indulge themselves in the lives of another’s world. But I am sure to say that the happenings within these secluded existences are soon played out in the faces of those involved. Joy and fear can never be hidden in the faces of children, and the stamp of loneliness cannot be removed from the eyes of teenagers. The sounds of laughter juxtapose the sounds of screaming and the cries for attention are drowned by the need for success.
Life is a mere breath in the lungs of eternal existence and it is the choices we make in this short breath that define our eternity.
It is time we breathe deep and swallow our pride. No longer must we turn a blind eye to the downward spiralling script played out in the lives of those around us, but decide to stand up for nobility and stand up for love. Stay strong to our Godly convictions and be true to the word of God. We must act now in sharing the gospel before it is too late.”
These vivid words challenged me because they are so true. The urgency within them unsettled me. There is a world crying for attention and in need of purpose. A world in need of Jesus. The chase for success has society using ‘_bodies like money, and truth like lies, people like ladders and words like knives’. (_‘Hosea’s Wife’ lyrics) Yet often we as Christians, seeing their need and hearing their cries decide to pass by like the Priest and the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan and pretend we never noticed.
Why do we do this? Why do we pass by, why do we pretend we never noticed? If we search deep down in our hearts for the reasons, I believe we’ll find a few petty excuses. They seem important, yet in reality are just lies we use to justify our complacency.
Here are 6 possible reasons:
- Comfort — We believe comfort is king, when really, comfort is a lie.
- Entitlement — We hold our best interest above the needs of others.
- Apathy — We are desensitised to need and have lost a sense or urgency.
- Money — We believe that without money you can’t bring change.
- Time — We think we are busier than they actually are.
- Yourself — We forget that we live with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Justifying our complacency doesn’t remove the urgency of the need for Jesus in society, it just adds to it.
Rather than justifying complacency and ignoring the slippery slope of comfort, we must begin to identify it so that we can overcome it. Overcome it so that mothers, tradesman, students, executives and grandmas, who are trudging through life without purpose may find purpose, hope and life in Christ. Overcome it so those people can become disciples of Christ and themselves begin to share Jesus to their friends and family. Overcome it because our love for Christ compels us to look beyond ourselves.
The truth is, the answer to combating complacency towards others is to fall back in love with Jesus.
The same Jesus that, while we were dead in our sin chose to sacrifice His life so that we may find true freedom in Him (Ephesians 2:1). The same Jesus who, rich in mercy and love replaced our fear with peace and our hopelessness with purpose. The same Jesus who in the story of the Good Samaritan, stopped to bring restoration the one that religion and politics has passed by.
The reason I was challenged by the words in the old journal entry, was because in an honest moment with myself I realised they were fueled by a zeal for Christ and others which was stronger than my current zeal. I had found myself seduced by comfort and drowned by apathy. I was convicted by my own words.
Society tells us to try harder, but Jesus doesn’t tell us to try, He tells us to trust. Our salvation isn’t a prison transfer it’s a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
He didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to raise dead people to life. We are free in Christ. I want to remind you today of this. We don’t graduate past the Gospel to deeper and greater things. This is it. God has commissioned us with His authority, not to live a life of entitlement or comfort, but a life on mission.
If you have found yourself falling for the above excuses, then I urge you to recalibrate life and begin to refocus on Christ and find that love you had for Him when you first realised the freedom you have in Him. The same way I must be intentional to keep my zeal for my wife, I must be intentional to keep my zeal for Jesus.
There is no better way to fall in love with Christ than being in His presence. There are many ways to do that. A great place to start is by doing what the early church did in Acts 2:42_._ They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (bible), to the fellowship (church), to the breaking of bread (communion), and to prayer.
- Bible Reading — When I first fell in love with Christ, I couldn’t get enough of the bible. It was the perfect place for me to learn more about the nature and character of God. If you haven’t picked up the Bible in a while. Open it up and read through the Gospels.
- Community — Are you planted in a bible based church community? By planted I mean, do you attend regularly, serve and tithe? If not, start by working on these things. It is hard to love someone when you aren’t committed to what they are passionate about. This is a great place for encouragement, accountability, involvement, worship & biblical teaching. (Hebrews 10:25).
- Communion — Eat often with Godly friends who challenge you in your faith and take time together to remember what Christ has done for you on the cross and in you through salvation (Matthew 26:26–29).
- Prayer — There is great power in prayer. It is a dialogue between you and God, not a monologue. Part of prayer is listening to God. Ask God to forgive you for your complacency and ask Him to help you stay the course.
The truth is, this thing we call life is a mere breath in the lungs of eternal existence and it is the choices we make in this short breath that define our eternity and the choices we make today can also define the eternity of others. It is time we breath deep and swallow our pride. No longer must we turn a blind eye to the downward spiralling script played out in the lives of those around us, but decide to stand up for nobility and stand up for love. Stay strong to our Godly convictions and be true to the word of God. We must act now in sharing the gospel before it is too late.
My prayer is that our lives are a testament and that our Godly actions will be followed by the forth-coming generations. I pray our words break chains of hate and instil love into a hurting world. May we be challenged everyday to do more and go harder for Christ, not in our own strength but in His. May our short breathes breathe life into others and may our lives bring glory to God.