Last Sunday we spoke about the fact that we were created to worship. Though fall, we are still created in the image of God and we have an inner need to worship. The problem is whom do we worship. Created to worship the God who made us sin has put a wall up between us. Separated from God we reach out to the false gods that have been offered to us. These god’s make promises to us that they cannot and do not deliver on. But the pull is great.
The struggle we face is not a new one. They are the same struggles and temptations that are faced by Christians and non-Christians throughout the world and throughout time. It all started in the garden with our fist parents. The world, we are told was created for our pleasure. It was very good. We were set in the garden to enjoy God and his creation. We were to be fruitful and multiply, subduing the earth. All was well.
Satan, the liar and deceiver comes on the scene. He doesn’t down play the beauty of the creation, which would have been a lie no one would believe. What he did was offer an improvement. He first raised doubt. “Did God say that you could not eat any of the fruit of the garden.” God told them to avoid only the fruit of one tree, the three of the knowledge of good and evil. He then makes his offer. God doesn’t want you to eat that fruit because if you do you too will be like God knowing good and evil. Don’t you want to be like God? The lie continues. Each of us hears in their own way the lie; don’t you want to be like God?
The enemy comes to each of us taking the good things of God and distorting them. He seeks to cause us to divert our attention off of God and onto the things the God gives us in order to make us think that we can be like God ourselves. Often the gods of this world are the gifts of God to us that are distorted and taken out of context. The creation seeks to replace the creator. Peter warns us to be sober-minded and watchful. Our first parents were not and were caught off guard.
The enemy takes good things and distorts them in order to draw us away from God. Let’s look at this for a moment. Health is an important issue for people these days. Our life expectancy is longer then every before but not a long as people think. We are told that if we eat right and exercise we can live much longer; some would have us believe over 100. I am all for healthy eating and exercise because you feel better when you are in good shape. Because of better nutrition we do live longer but do we have things a bit distorted. Health has become an obsession for some.
Created in the image of God we have a longing for life, eternal life. God sent Jesus to deal with the sin problem so we could have abundant life and that it would go on forever, eternal life. The promise of eternal life comes with serving and following Jesus. We enter into a relationship with God through the cross of Jesus Christ. The question of our sin is dwelt with and once our sin is removed and or relationship with God restored we are called to follow Jesus and continue to nurture that relationship. We do this through spending time in his word, prayer and corporate worship. Eternal life is gained through walking with Jesus, which involves dying to self, serving others, and walking humble before God. This is not always glamorous but the way up is often down.
The devil comes along and tells us that the way to long life is through exercise and right eating. Remember in its place this is good and God pleasing but it gets distorted. The gym becomes a place of worship. Sunday morning the gyms are full while the churches are empty. Priorities are important and in our mixed thinking our physical health gets a higher priority than our spiritual health even though our desired result, eternal life in not found in the gym.
It is important that we take care of our financial needs. He who does not work, the Bible tells us, should not eat. Work is important. We were created to work. Adam and Eve were set down in the garden and given work to do before the fall. Our work is the primary means through which God meets our daily needs. But the devil comes along and distorts the position of work in our lives. Work becomes for many the place where they find there self worth. The more money you make the more important you are. Others are driven by a fear of the future. They worry that they will have enough to carry them through hard times.
God calls for a pattern of work and rest; seven days to do all that needs to be done and a day of rest to focus on him. The Daily Orders called for the monks to stop at various hours of the day to worship God. It was a reminder that the day belongs to God. We pray, give us this day our daily bread, to acknowledge that all that we have comes from God even if it is the result of our labor because our ability to work is a gift from God.
The Devil comes in and distorts the picture. People, for whatever reason find themselves working long hours and working seven days a week to satisfy some inner longing. The god of this world calls them to worship and in so doing the person neglects their relationship with God. Our self worth comes from Jesus not work. Our future is in God’s hands not ours. If we don’t make all the money we think we should or could, will not matter in eternity. To spend time in the worship of the god of money draws us away for worshipping the one true God of the Bible.
It is not good for us to be alone. God put us in families. Though some are called to singleness most of us are not. We desire to be in a relationship with someone else. Family is important. But again they are a gift from God and must be kept in perspective.
One day Jesus was preaching and word came that his family was there looking for him. Jesus looked at the crowd and asked, who is my family. He than looking around said that the people in the crowd where his mother and brothers and sisters. One thing to remember is that we have been adopted into a new family and that we will spend eternity with our Christian family and not with our non-Christian blood relatives. Again family are very important an our unsaved relatives are our first mission field.
Again the Devil seeks to distort the truth. Because we live more isolated lives from our family they can take a more exalted roll in our thinking. They can become more important to us then God. Remembering that are a gift from God nevertheless Jesus said if we are not willing to hate father and mother and sister and brother we are not fit for the kingdom.
Some times our longing for family causes us to feel desperate. We meet someone who we like a lot. They are fun to be with and we share much in common with them except that they do not share our faith in God. We are walking in two different directions. Still we like them and though God says not to be tied together with unbelievers this person is different. We will win them to Jesus because of our love for them. More times than not the believer eventually stops serving the Lord because of their commitment to their partner.
Marriage is a sacred vow for the Christian. Two people commit themselves to each other before God. Weddings are a serious matter. But again the Devil seeks to distort the truth. He tells us that it is not commitment that matters but love. If you love the person than what difference dose a piece of paper make. And anyway marriage is important so shouldn’t we live together first to make sure it will work between us.
It’s not how it works. We commit for better or worse for good or bad. It is the commitment before God that carries a couple through the hard times. People postpone marriage for all kinds of reasons. They want to try each other out. They want an expensive wedding and they want to wait until they have the money. They don’t think being married matters. The problem is that it does to God.
I could go in giving illustrations but the point is the Devil seeks to pull us from God. You need to be watchful and sober-minded, staying close to Jesus. God has called you to eternal life with him and that means that as pilgrims and strangers in this world we might not be as successful as we would like, we might not have the career we desire or the wedding we hoped for. We can’t date anyone who interests us. We are called to follow Jesus but know this; the God of grace has called you to his eternal glory. He will restore you confirm your faith, strengthen you and establish you in his kingdom. You have been called to follow Jesus. You are not your own, you have been bought with a price. Therefore serve God with your whole being.