Stand Firm – Love Well

My church has been doing a sermon series on the book of Daniel.  At first glance you might wonder how a book written thousands of years ago has any relevance to today.  As I listened to the messages each week I found it clearly spoke to our current culture today.

As a Christ follower I often find myself in total disagreement with the values all around me.  Much of society speaks and acts in ways so opposed to the words of Jesus Christ.  Everywhere I look – entertainment, fashion and especially politics I find much to disagree with and can often find myself feeling overwhelmed.

How should I respond to my culture when I am so many times in disagreement with it?

Probably each generation thinks they are the first ones to face this perplexing situation – when our own values and lifestyle seem so different from the lifestyles about us.

But we are not the first.

Looking at Daniel we see a young man taken by force from his own home and placed forcefully into a totally alien culture.  The food was different, the religion was different, the customs were different.  Even his name was changed from a name that meant “God is My Judge” to Belteshazzar which meant “Bel protects his life.”  His very identity as a believer in the God of Israel was challenged by this new name honoring an idol god of the Babylonians.

I struggle with the friction between speaking the truth, not backing down from the principles I strongly believe to be right and showing the love of God to those whose beliefs are different than mine.

How do we “stand firm” but “love well.”

Daniel is a good example of that.

He and his friend stood firm on their foundation of faith refusing to bow down to idols and continuing to speak to God when the king said they could pray to no one but himself.  They were willing to lose their lives for their belief in God.

However, if you read Daniel’s interaction with the king he was always respectful and never spoke in anger or showed irritation with the king.  He served within the Babylonian government and obviously worked for the good of the government disobeying only when his basic belief in God was challenged.

We need to follow his example.

Stand firm – never compromise our principles even when it may led to persecution or difficulty.

Love well – never treat those who disagree with us with disrespect or hatred.

My pastor ended Sunday’s sermon with a powerful question:  Do we truly love our enemies as Jesus told us to do.  We often say to “hate the sin, but love the sinner” but in truth do we love the sinner?

A great example of this today I feel is how so many famous Christian ministers are calling for the church to pray for Donald Trump.  We should do so.  The Bible clearly tells us to pray for those who are in authority over us.

But where is the call for pray for Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff?  The Bible clearly tells us to pray for those who persecuted us.

Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum – which ever politician you would view as the enemy, I challenge you to pray for them.

Let us Stand firm but love well!

 

 

When is Enough Enough?

I recently read a book recommended by one of my daughters, “Affluence with Abundance,” by  James Suzman.  The author did an intensive study of the vanishing world of the bushmen in southern Africa.

Viewed by the western world as a society lacking all the great benefits of our modern culture, the author notes:

“...hunters-gatherers appeared to be content – in fact, to thrive…with a limited material culture.  Their approach to well-being…was based on having few material wants, and those few wants were easily met with limited technologies and not too much effort. “

So unlike our western culture where we seem to want more and more,

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he noted that

“…hunter-gatherers were content by the simple expedient of not desiring more than they already had….they were content because they did not hold themselves hostage to unattainable aspirations.”

What an idea!  To be content by not desiring more than we already have.  That seems to be a totally foreign idea to most of us.   Instead of not being held hostage by desiring things we really cannot afford, we use that magical plastic that gives us now what will take months, maybe years to pay for.  Many items we purchase on credit are out of fashion or used up before they are even paid for.

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As my husband and I have downsized in preparation to moving to a smaller home for our retirement years, I realize how much I have been guilty of that “more and more” mentality.  As I have given things away to family and friends and sold much on the web, I keep asking myself “why did I think I needed that?”

And, of course, for much of my “stuff” the answer is I did not “need” it, I just “wanted” it.

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While there is certainly nothing wrong with buying something just because I want it, I do think I went way over board in many areas.

I do ask myself what if I had bought less of what I wanted but did not need and gave that money to missions, to the local food pantry, to helping others about me more in need.

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”   Matthew 19:19-21

Looking at my home, my possessions, my credit card statement, my check book I have to ask myself:

Where is my treaure?

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