A Better Way

better-way

The Bible is full of examples of people who surrender their life to God and turn their world upside down. History also has examples of people who have fulfilled their purpose and made an impact that is felt hundreds of years after their death. As Christians, we are encouraged to seek God’s direction in our lives first and foremost. We are further admonished to trust God for the mundane needs of life (Matthew 6:25-34). I have written several posts over the years about the fact that these concepts appear to be foreign to the Americanized Christian. Maybe that is why we rarely see a Christian that positively impacts our culture. It is even more rare to see American Christians do things that qualify as “turning the known world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

In my experience, Americans fall into three general categories.

Pleasure in the moment:

This person works hard and parties harder. Their motto would be, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”. They are not concerned with long term investments, physical health, financial planning or retirement. They can see the value of saving for a rainy day, but believe that it is out of their grasp. They feel that they may as well enjoy the comforts they can afford today. In the best case scenario, those comforts are recreational equipment, food or expensive vehicles. In the worst case scenario, those comforts include drug or alcohol addictions. Regardless, they work to fund their next “comfort” with little concern for the future. They repress their passion and purpose in favor of pursuing temporary comfort.

Pleasure someday:

This person works hard and saves harder. Their motto would be, “If you don’t have a plan, you plan to fail”. They are very concerned with long term investments, physical health, financial planning and retirement. They gladly put off today’s comfort in order to achieve a goal. They are fans of long term plans, such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. In the best case scenario, they spend 30+ years working hard, denying self and paying debts. They will own their home, their late model vehicle and have sent their children to college. In the worst case scenario, they spend 30+ years working hard, denying self and paying debts only to find that life’s unexpected expenses have outweighed their ability to plan and save. Regardless, they are rarely able to relax and enjoy what they have. They repress their passion and purpose in favor of pursuing an allusive future security.

The hustler:

This person works hard and takes risks. Their motto would be, “no risk, no return”. They are willing to work an endless string of hustles, hoping to get rich quick and render long term financial planning mute, because they will never have financial worries again. In the best case scenario, they find the right hustle and become wealthy, only to find that they have become addicted to the hustle. It is no longer about the money, it is about the next thing. In the worst case scenario, the right hustle never comes along and they spend their life in pursuit of the right risk. Regardless, they are rarely able to relax and enjoy what they have. They repress their passion and purpose in favor of pursuing the next thing.

Obviously these categories are a gross generalization and may not fit every person, but I believe that if you are honest with yourself you have characteristics that fit into one of these categories. If you have lived for awhile you may have even tried finding your fulfillment in more than one of the categories.

I do not want to declare the benefit of one category over another. I contend that, for believers, there should be another category entirely. The examples from the Bible and history, that I referenced earlier, are not the result of seeking pleasure, security or wealth. They are the result of seeking first the kingdom of God and trusting God for the outcome. If you are a believer and want to make an impact on your world, I want to challenge you to ask God what his plan is for your life, then be willing to step out of the three categories listed above and into the category of “world changer”.

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5 thoughts on “A Better Way”

  1. You have forgotten one other Aspect and that is th e one Jesus instructs us to do and that is supply for our families. I do believe God can supply all our needs, but He also instructs us to work for those needs. God never instructs us to do nothing. It is when we pervert work to satisfy our own wants is when we step out of the will of God. God wants us to be prosperous and have money. He does not want us to squander what He gives us. Remember the unfaithful servant. God gives us talents , but when we do nothing with it we become unfaithful.

    1. Thanks for the comments Drew. As you may know, we feel that God directed us to put our trust in him alone (similar to how Jesus did two separate times with his disciples in Acts) and that meant not “working” at a secular job for 2.5 years. As you can imagine I had big issues with this and searched the scriptures to show God that he could not be asking me to do that!! Sadly, I was not able to find a request like this to be outside of his character (trust me, I tried!!). As I mentioned, he asked the same thing from many of his followers and in the New Testament I Timothy 5:8 mentions caring for family, but it is in the context of elderly parents or widows. Jesus’ teachings on the matter (as I sighted in the blog post), appear to instruct his followers to not bother about what we eat or where we live because our Heavenly Father knows our needs and takes care of them. If I missed a place where he contradicted this and instructed people to concern themselves with providing these things, please point those scriptures out, because I missed them.

      I do understand where you are coming from though. Our Americanized version of Christianity does not allow for crazy things like taking a widow and her son’s last bit of food (Elijah), locking an innocent man in prison for years (Joseph), anointed a man King and then having him flee into caves to live for years (David) or causing a child to be born and live the majority of his life blind in order for Jesus to show that he has the power to heal. As a result of our culture’s influence the most we can trust God for is a good job and a good church. I don’t deny that God provides those things, my contention is that he made us for so much more. He longs to turn the known world upside down and that will take more than a good job and a good church, just like it did in the first century.

    2. One other thing. I do not propose that everyone, or anyone for that matter, should do what I did. It is simply what God directed me and my family to do and it does not violate his character as revealed in the Bible.

      Another unfortunate result of our culture’s influence on Christianity is that we all fell like we have to be “cookie cutter” clones of each other. My message is: Don’t do what I did, listen to God and do what he tells you to do. If it is a good job and a good church, great! But if it is something crazy like we see in the Bible, that needs to be great to.

      Much love!

  2. Ok, there are examples in the Bible that God provides for His children, however throughout the Word of God, He tells people that He will bless them if they do something. No where in the Bible does God ever tell His children just to not work. I recently was studying the book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastics. Throughout those books we are constantly admonished to work.

    You mention the book of Acts and even there you will find the great Apostle Paul worked to support his ministry. Then you have Peter who was reprimand ed d by Jesus about paying taxes and Jesus told him to go fishing, which was his occupation. Dr. Luke worked for Paul. Jesus never told his disciples not to work.

    The problem in Christianity in the usa is that God has blessed us. If we lived ij a foreign land that struggled with the land and creating crops, we would be more desparate and we would do the crazy things like Elijah did. Look at Joseph, even in prison he worked hard and became great because of his hard work.

    I Timothy 5:8 is not just talking about widows. Read this in the amplified version and move on to verse 9 where it addresses the widows. They are to be a part of the family that is to be cared for.

    I agree that God wants to turn the world upside down, but in process of time we must supply for our family. I was praying for you all recently and in prayer I felt two things:

    1. God is blessing you because of your children. God loves you all, but He knows that your children depend on you to supply for their physical needs.
    2. You are blinded by fear and newness. It is hard to move into a new city and find a new job, when you were in the familiar. It is hard to start over sometimes.

    I want you to know that God cares and when you are ready He will open the door and pourr out greater blessings than you can imagine. Read Proverbs. There is great insight that even I missed over the years.

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