What does your life look like—what are you into, and what do you spend your time doing? In other words, what is it that you really value? If you’re anything like the average person today, it is quite possible that your world revolves around you. Yet, is this the way it should be?
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1)
The apostle Paul lived his life for Christ. Out of obedience to Him, he dedicated his existence to the purpose of telling the Gentiles—those who didn’t know God—about the forgiveness they can have through Christ. In this verse he refers to himself as the prisoner of Christ Jesus, but elsewhere he calls himself a bondservant—a doulos (“one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the other”, Zodhiates, The Complete Study New Testament)—of God.
This is not a superficial or temporary relationship. A doulos was a slave who loved his master to such a degree that rather than obtain freedom he chooses servitude. What Paul was saying was that He loved God so much that His desires had become his own. Yet how many of us love Jesus this much? How many of us have chosen permanent indenture to Him—have made it our business to get to know Him enough to actually want to serve Him voluntarily throughout our entire lives? The sad thing is that our current economic, technological, and cultural climate create an environment in which is is increasingly difficult to commit to and love Jesus.
Our economic climate, despite fluctuations in unemployment statistics and Dow Jones trends, is still among the wealthiest in the world. The poorest among us tend to have more than most in certain developing countries, and even those who experience genuine need typically have access to products and services much of the world can only dream of. And wealth distracts. Jesus warned his people about this in the parable of the sower: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22) When we are either too busy getting or keeping the good things of this life, we are distracted and fail to be useful to God.
The technological climate makes focusing on God increasingly difficult because we have access to information and entertainment in ways unheard of only a short time ago. Most of us can go to our laptops or televisions and view practically anything within a matter of seconds. Whether factual or fictional, we can sit in front of a screen for hours. Now, acquiring information is not a bad thing; learning is typically both important and good. Entertainment is also not necessarily wrong. Rather, it is a matter of using our time wisely. This is why God warns us, “’Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:14-17) Because we are only given so many years of life, we need to be faithful and spend our time learning and doing what God wants not wasting the many opportunities He provides, for we will be held accountable for how we have spent our time.
Lastly, the cultural climate is becoming quite hostile to acknowledging God, much less reverencing and worshiping Him. From professors to CNN to Hollywood, Christians are seen and increasingly misrepresented as ignorant and uneducated, or even devious and evil individuals. Because it fails to recognize what true Christianity is, and that we worship God because nature and eyewitness testimonies clearly reveal His existence and because He loves us and has provided a means for us to be permanently reconciled to Him through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross—not because of weakness in us but because of greatness in Him—Christians can no longer use popular culture as a gauge of what is good and what is not. “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:22)
So how should we then live, in light of this current economic, technological, and cultural climate? God, as always, gives us the answer in His Word: “But you, o man of God…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called…” (1 Timothy 6:11-12) We are to keep doing what we know is right with our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, refusing to be distracted by either the wind or the waves, and remain to faithful until the end of our lives.
Thank You for loving us and being patient with us. Thank You that You recognize the times we live in, but that You have told us about what we will go through, and expect us to persevere. Help us to fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life, to which we were also called. Amen.