Friday, May 20, 2016

Living Upright in an Upside-Down World!

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” Isaiah 5:20 

“Thucydides was an Athenian historian and general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC.” (Wikipedia)  In his writings Thucydides describes the effects of the “spirit of party” (we would call it the flesh, or the sin nature) in the Peloponnesian war. “Rashness was called courage, and prudence timidity, and treachery cleverness, and honesty stupidity.” Charles Elliott, in his commentary on Scripture, says, “That deliberate perversion is in all ages the ultimate outcome of the spirit that knows not God, and therefore neither fears nor loves Him…” 

This spirit was alive and well in Isaiah’s day and it’s alive and well in ours. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans 1:21-32. Here’s my summary of his thoughts: People so easily fall in love with this world and become enamored with their own desires and in the process push God out of the picture. When that happens any sense of spiritual understanding goes right out the window. From that point forward they can rationalize and justify any action or behavior – killing, oppression, injustice, immorality, etc. so long as it gets them what they want.  The end totally justifies the means.  And they truly believe they are the “smart one” the “evolved” the “progressive” of society.  Christ-followers are branded  as a bunch of old-fashioned, out of touch, narrowminded, unenlightened, intolerant, bigoted fools who just want to rain on our parade and hold us back.  They call obedience to Christ – hatred and bigotry … murder – choice… sexual sin – natural and wonderful.

And so, because they exercised their God-given freedom of choice to reject God—He let them. He said, Have at, the freedom to do what you want with your life is all yours--but remember—the consequences are yours too. 

“They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:29-32)

This world is totally upsidedown!

I’m not writing this to bum you out, but to call you to sober awareness of the world we live in. Do not be surprised by ANYTHING that comes along. When Jesus is rejected, literally anything goes. The first followers of Jesus lived in the world Paul is describing in the passage above. I know you probably assumed it was about America in the 21st Century, but this is nothing new. The god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4) has always been active in our world—blinding and deceiving; killing, stealing and destroying (John 10:10).

So how do we live upright lives in this upsidedown world? 

I think it’s really interesting and important to note what Jesus did NOT say. He never said, “Look to the Government to be your salvation." or “Go try to fix everybody's messed up lives…” He said things like:

“You are my witnesses” (Acts. 1:8)
I.e. “Tell others what I’ve done for you.” (Acts 1:8) 

“Abide in me…” (John 15)
I.e. spend time with me every day and walk with an awareness of my grace and power and word in your life, (John 15) 

“Love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34-35)
An exclusive command to Christ-followers--designed in large part to give the Gospel credibility--If we can't love our brothers and sisters in Christ--why would anyone care about our message?

“Love God and love your neighbor as yourself…” (Mat. 22:37-39)
Note—love doesn’t remain silent when it sees a friend involved in destructive behavior—even though that friend may accuse them of being “judgmental.". 

“You are the light of the world…” (Mat. 5:14)
I.e. “Shine for me with your life—live an authentic life of devotion to me and never water down My commands for the sake of convenience.”

We aren’t called to change the world. We are simply called to love, walk with, testify about and represent as ambassadors, The One Who can!

If this encouraged you--Remember to leave a comment & share with friends, thank you!

Until next time...
Blessings,
Brad

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