The author and Christian theologian C. S. Lewis once said:
“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.”
I know a number of posts ago I said I wouldn’t get too historical or political but one writes about what is on one’s heart, don’t they?
My wife just read me a quick article about a couple of the jurors in the Florida v. Casey Anthony trial who were forced to retire, change jobs and geographical locations because they received anonymous death threats and were harassed at work for the outcome of the trial. Make all the comparisons you like to the O.J. Simpson murder trial 17 years ago, but I don’t remember any jurors complaining about death threats or needing to secretly relocate because someone’s disagreement or harassment went over the top.
On the political and economic front, much of what dominates national news these days is the ongoing, so-called “debt-ceiling” talks in Washington, D.C. After having been told that a deal was close the past several days, suddenly there is no deal and everyone involved in negotiating is angry with one another as the country sits on the ever-crumbling brink of financial ruin. We used to have a saying when we were mostly an industrialized nation- “as General Motors goes, so goes America”. Well, since GM collapsed and was bought by your tax dollars and then returned to shareholders, we still sit on this brink. By the way, did anyone out there get a dividend payout for that? I didn’t think so.
Many millions continue to be unemployed, and in my home state of Florida, tens of thousands more will be soon, as the aerospace industry, once the largest employing industry in the state, faces collapse after NASA has run out of exploration projects for the first time in over 50 years.
What has happened to us? Indeed, what has happened to the world? I can’t seem to get past the ugliness of the discourse in seemingly every circumstance. The absence of dreams and visions of bright futures, positive and unifying influences, greatness of achievement–the generally negative approach to life that prevails everywhere, such that the good things one hopes and prays for in life are so difficult to see.
I rarely watch national news anymore. I read local news because it is part of my job, regrettably, to find out who did some form of harm to someone else or the community-in case my staff or I have to address a report to the court. A sad, but telling, side-effect of on-line news comes at the end of the headline stories of the day where the reader has a chance to opine on what they thought of that story. Whether a good, positive story, or a bad story, often reporting criminal behavior, the comments for good or bad are indistinguishable. Sickening, really. I would be tempted to say “look for yourself if you don’t believe me”, but that would defeat my purpose for writing this.
The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:22-23:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Alright, some of you may be asking with some cynicism, “what’s that got to do with the price of rice?” Here’s what: these are bottom-line character traits for Christians and a pattern of behavior that one can rely on in every situation. These are the qualities that are the best one should expect of all people in every situation. In the situations above, can you imagine how wondrous those events would be if the fruit of the Spirit dominated them and not what we have seen?
Think of your daily discourse. Can you even get through your drive to work everyday and exemplify half of these? I’m practiced at it and I have a hard time keeping at it consistently. Why is that? Because these characteristics are impossible to achieve on my own. I can sure try, but they are only possible with an abiding, close relationship with Jesus Christ! Sure, there’s a salvation message here not just for your soul, but for an immediate change in all life and our approach to it in the here and now! Against such things there is no law.
Duplicitous behavior, trickery, deception, callousness, revenge, jealousy, evil reports, and gossip are what drives the world in the world’s economy. These are the opposites of the fruit I named above. I see countless examples of these everyday. Sometimes I feel I can’t escape it. The world accepts this standard and calls it good, truth, necessary, and acceptable.
But I have a friend, one who sticks closer than a brother. The One to whom I pray as often as my mind is led to it. More and more every day. These worldly things are the last I ever want to be defiled by ever again, either by seeing them, or hearing of them or doing them. Guilty on all counts. What about you?
Here’s a word you won’t hear much in our national conversation, or anywhere else in the world for that matter: Repentance. The best definition I have heard is to change one’s heart and move in a different direction. What direction? My direction is the one that leads me prayerfully, carefully, and completely to salvation in the name of The Son, Jesus Christ. Many turn other ways looking for other things beside the fruit of the Spirit but the only consistent, eternal, faithful truth lies in this name. Soon, I think, this truth will be revealed to all mankind.
My prayer is for all to come to the right path in Him and not be the “seeker” who drifts between ideologies, philosophies, and theologies looking for something with which to agree upon mentally and not have a true change of heart.
Paul also wrote in a letter to the persecuted underground Roman church this simple way to change one’s heart and come to salvation and peace:
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
The question now becomes “what will you do with this?” There is no panacea being offered here. We’re only here for a short time in the course of eternity. In my heart I know where I’ll be and with whom. Do you?
The hope lies in this relationship with Jesus, my joint heir in the everlasting kingdom and is set forth in Philippians 4:6-9:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
This relationship only comes one way. Time is short. What will you do?