I’ve been thinking about the Golden Rule lately. Not really sure why, except that I have been thinking about ways to apply it to my life. So, I think these are ways that others can apply it as well.
One way I’ve been thinking about is politics. If you haven’t noticed, we are in an election year. Soon there will be a new president-elect in the old U.S. of A. So, I’ve been thinking about how the Golden Rule applies to my voting choice.
Now, you may be wondering what the Golden Rule has to do with voting for president? Here is how I’ve been thinking about it. Would I want the person I’m voting for to be the president for everyone? Most people usually look at it as how it will affect themselves. What if everyone really took the view of it would be best for everyone else to have this person as president. You throw out your past party affiliations. You throw out what you like in a candidate and really dig down and ask, “Would I want to do this to someone else? Would I want to elect this person, not for my own sake, but for the sake of my family and neighbors?”
Another way to apply the Golden Rule is much broader. It takes some hard work on your part. Are you on the lookout for the good for everyone? I miss this more often than I get it right, but I might have actually done it recently. I know someone who is a deer hunter. I heard about a website that has well produced, television quality videos for deer hunters. It’s not just like the hunting shows on TV. It actually goes into deer management and explores deeper issues. I texted my friend the website so that he would have it available. I got nothing out of it. Or did I? I would want him to do the same for me. If he knows me well enough, I would want him to pass along something similar.
We really try to make living this Christian life hard sometimes. We look for BIG ways to do Godly things in our lives and for the benefit of others. Instead, maybe it’s just doing the normal things of life in a Godly way. That’s what I’m hoping to do going forward.
There are reams and reams of paper used to write books on how Christians to live lives that follow Jesus. Rarely, though, is there anything that as simple as what we actually find in the Bible. Paul gave us three good pieces of advice in 1 Thessalonians that too few of us actually heed.
1. Live Quiet Lives
One could probably write an entire post about this. In today’s world filled with social media, it is easy to live a noisy life clamoring for attention. Few of us are immune to this. Many of us need to take this piece to heart and spend some time that is focused outwardly, putting the spotlight on others. Give others credit and point toward the Lord instead of ourselves.
2. Mind Your Own Business
What would happen if we took this one to heart? Instead of getting involved in every controversy, what if we truly focused on making our own lives better? What would the world look like?
When I was a kid, I worked on farms located around me during the summer. I hauled hay and worked in tobacco. When I turned 16, I went to work in a grocery store and had another part-time job watering plants at my church during a dry summer. Plus, I still had to mow the yard and do chores around the house. God expects us to work. He does not expect us to live entitled lives. One time my dad’s job went on strike. He used that time to work around the place and even thought about finding work to do that would bring in income.
Why should we do these things? What benefit is there to them?
So that we “may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on on one.” These are three keys to living the kind of life that God ordains for us. Instead of looking for some magic bullet, let’s do what God’s word tells us to do.
If you haven’t noticed lately, some don’t think America is great anymore.
The solution for some is to protest, though their freedom to do so proves the point is moot.
Others seek to make America great again by running for office.
What about those of us who follow Christ? What are we to think and do? I think we can find some clues in Mark 4.
Jesus compares the kingdom of God to a mustard seed. It’s small, but grows into a 15 foot bush. So big, in fact, that the bird see the comfort of its shade.
Jesus, it seems, doesn’t focus on earthly kingdoms. His concern is for His Father’s kingdom.
Where do the birds turn for rest? The kingdom. Not the nations of the world, but God’s kingdom.
America isn’t great? Seek the kingdom of God.
America’s great again? Seek a kingdom that puts it to shame.
The birds seek the shade of the kingdom. May we follow the birds’ lead.
I mentioned yesterday that I tweeted recently that we are called to make disciples, not music. I mentioned that my expanded view is that we are really called to glorify God and that can come by making music or disciples. Today, I want to follow-up up a bit on that.
I once had a conversation with a family member who said that they would be happy if church services were only comprised of music. I just kind of shook my head, but realized that I was not that far from that view. I would be happy if church services were only made up of preaching. That’s just how I’m wired and geared.
We were both wrong.
Imagine if that actually took place. We would have churches full of people who were there only to hear preaching. Other would just be full of singing. Others might pray the entire service. Still others might take an offering…..and then what?
I’ll tell you. We would all miss out on different ways to worship. We would miss out on the various types of people. We would also miss out on the variety of gifts within the church.
Mostly we would miss out on being part of the Body of Christ. Arms don’t exist alone. Neither do legs, knees, throats, mouths and you think of a body part.
I don’t like all parts of church services. That may sound like sacrilege, but I’m just trying to be real. That doesn’t mean that I don’t see the benefit of the things I am not naturally inclined toward. Those things help connect me to other members of the Body. They help connect me to Christ. They help me maximize who I am in the entire Body of Christ.
I’m sure you’ve seen the title of this post before. It came into the national conversation during the Vietnam War, back when I was barely a glimmer in anyone’s eye.
The thing about this statement is that it is saying that these two things are mutually exclusive. It’s as though one cannot hold love and war in their life at the same time. I’m not going to speak for everyone, but I don’t really think that to be the case.
I feel the same way about something I tweeted the other day. My tweet was some like this:
We are not called to make music, but to make disciples.
I felt pretty proud of myself after sharing this on the Twitter. Here is the funny thing. I got several likes when it made its way to Facebook. However, I got some push back on Twitter.
The push back came because someone took exception to it. They said THE way to discipleship is through making music, mainly because that is how it happened for them.
Sorry, but I can’t buy that one either. But I did change my mind a little.
I don’t think the main thing we are called to do is to make disciples or make music. It’s not either/or. It’s not one or the other. Instead, I think we’re called to something greater.
I think we are called to glorify God in everything we do. How do we do that?
By making disciples. By making music. And so much more.
We might glorify God through every bite of food we take, through every swallow of drink we take in.
We might glorify God by running a marathon or walking to the mailbox.
Maybe it’s by driving the speed limit and stopping at yellow.
It could be anything.
It could be by making love or making war. Or both.
Most of us are aware at this point that Muhammad Ali passed away a few days ago. There has rarely been as controversial figure in recent history. Whether you loved or hated him for his braggadocio, his conversion to Islam or his refusal to serve in the military during the Vietnam War, it is difficult to recall anyone who was more of a lightning rod for controversy.
I loved Ali as a kid. I didn’t really watch boxing as a young child, but I would see him on Candid Camera and get excited any time he was on. This caused some conflict with my Vietnam serving father. Despite, and perhaps because of, my dad’s strong feelings I continued to like Ali, maybe just to spite him. That’s another story and the subject of another day.
The bottom line is that, for a time, Muhammad Ali was the most famous person on the planet, accomplishing the rare feat of the being the most loved and the most hated man alive. He even fought Superman.
DC Comics published an over-sized comic entitled Superman vs Muhammad Ali. In order to defend Earth against an alien invasion, Superman and Ali fought. Superman temporarily gave up his powers and Ali won the fight. The plot isn’t really all that important. What’s important is that Ali was so famous that he fought Superman. The closest thing most people could compare it to would be Michael Jordan being in Space Jam.
I’ve seen a lot of opinions on Ali since his passing. Some were in tribute. Many vilified. There was no middle ground.
I tweeted that what Ali did in life, ultimately, wasn’t important. What was important was whether he knew Jesus. What would Jesus have said to Ali if He had met him?
I think I know the answer. Or answers. They would have all been variations of the same one.
The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.
It’s the same for me. It’s the same for you. It’s the same for everyone.
Ali may have floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, but if he had followed Jesus, he wouldn’t have felt the sting of death.
It’s easy to make strong, bold statements about someone like Ali. It’s easy to call him a draft dodger or a great humanitarian. But in Christ, there is neither draft dodger, nor humanitarian.
Someone responded to my tweet that Ali was a professed Muslim. This is true. Unfortunately, there will be plenty of professed Baptists dying in the same state as Ali, not knowing Christ. Plenty of whatever brand of Christianity we are part of will do the same.
My plea to you is to not die without knowing Christ today. We who follow Him can do all sorts of things to make this Christianity thing complex. It’s really simple.
The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.
Yesterday I wrote a post that focused on the first verse of the Gospel of Mark. Another thought came out of that, really in the middle of speaking to my group of campers at the campground.
What I realized is that Mark was a gospel focused guy. Why? Because the gospel had changed and affected his life.
Mark was a kid who took off on what he thought was the adventure of a lifetime. He joined Paul and Barnabas, his cousin, on a missionary journey. Something happened and he abandoned them. He headed back home. Maybe he was homesick. Perhaps Paul was an intense jerk. Who really knows?
Afterwards, Paul and Barnabas began planning another trip. Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them. That’s who Barnabas was. He was an encourager, most likely an optimist. Paul? He wanted no part of taking Mark with them. He didn’t trust him to stick with it. Neither one of them was entirely wrong, but neither entirely right either. They disagreed and split up.
What’ really neat is that later Mark become useful to Paul’s ministry. Somewhere along the way, he was rehabilitated. Barnabas surely played a role. So did the apostle, Peter. It was most likely from Peter that Mark heard what he wrote in his Gospel.
Now, here is the big idea I had. Mark knew the power of the gospel, how it is the power of God. He knew how it could change someone and not just once, but on a continuing basis. He understood what it was to live a Gospel life.
You see, I think we need to quit living a Christian life. Christian makes a fine noun, but a terrible adjective. Instead, we need to live a gospel focused life. Let’s pray and strive to let the gospel transform every aspect of our lives. Let it transform how we spend our money at the store. Let it transform how we work for our employers. Let it transform, well, everything in our lives.
That’s the kind of life Mark lived. It transformed him from being a scared kid to being a useful colleague in the gospel and even writing of the accounts of Christ’s life. Pretty crazy, huh?
Is the gospel affecting your entire life?