Monday, February 17, 2014

Coal or Diamond - Part 10

Originally shared on Facebook, image used courtesy of VerseInspire
The  graphic for today's post isn't a physical gem or piece of coal, but it highlights a gem of truth.  Let's go back to a point we made last time.  The direction we take is based on external influences and our own decisions.  There's a lot of Biblical foundation for that.  And the result in our own lives can be very spiritual or very unBiblical, depending on what we do with that principle.  We'll start be looking at my favorite verse, again.  There's a whole different angle that we haven't discussed till now, that reveals so much.

Matthew 6:33 (KJV)  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

We've talked about this verse a lot, in terms of focusing on God and He'll meet our needs.  And that's absolutely true.  But go back a couple of verses.

Matthew 6:29-32 (KJV)  And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

Yes, we can rest in the understanding that God takes care of us, just as He takes care of nature. But there's a flip side to that.  Notice the last two words in the parentheses, Gentiles and seek. Our graphic might better have said "anything" instead of "anyone".  Gentiles, at the time, referred to those who didn't believe in the Judeo-Christian God.  They were those without a relationship with God.  And, without that relationship, there is no certainty of being taken care of.

Where "seek" really comes into play isn't a concern for food, shelter, and protection.  Think of the game of "Hide and Seek".  One person hides, the rest are totally focused on finding the one hiding. To the point of mostly excluding attention to anything else.  So, saying someone is seeking the basic necessities isn't just describing someone doing what comes naturally.  Their focus is intense enough to interfere with allowing anything else into their focus.  Including God.

When we get to verse 33, it's not just saying go after God and don't worry about any of the other stuff.  It's also saying that we shouldn't allow the necessities to take away from paying attention to God.  In American baseball, the coach will train a hitter to focus on the baseball and aim his bat accordingly. The hitter may have other runners on his team on the bases, the fans may be cheering or booing, he is aware of what he needs to do if he hits the ball.  But all of that is on the periphery of his vision and at the back of his mind.  While a player is facing the pitcher, with a bat in his hands, his only job is to hit the ball to the best of his ability.  If anything takes away from his attention to the ball, he'll do that job less than perfectly.  And so it is with our relationship with God.  The more fear, worry, and concern for the basic necessities take our attention away from God, the more likely we are to miss things that are important.

That kind of described my twenties and early thirties.  I still had my insecurities.  I was still chasing "cool" to compensate.  Eat at the right places, drink the right booze, chase the hot women, dabble in "interesting" substances, and only rarely jump into the spiritual realm.  Stir as needed.  All of that was "taking my eye off the ball".  I wasn't giving God a real chance to get in.  Even when I was involved in externally religious things.

You may recall, toward the very beginning of this series, I mentioned that I hated ether, but learned to love alcoholic beverages.  The scent I associated with ether was one I also associated with another operation, more pain, more navigating around with a cast on my leg or arm.  The operating room crew knew I was coming all the way down the hall.  I was very vocal in my protest.  That creates quite a picture.

Later in life, I embraced alcoholic beverages.  The chemical structure that makes beer or scotch give people some level of buzz (all the way up to passing out) is related to ether and its capacity to knock us out for the surgeons to do their job.  That love led to lots of bad thinking, bad relationships, car accidents, and more.  And, after a few drinks, my personality changed.  The beverages of choice of the adult population were not my friends, even though I thought they were.

1 Corinthians 7 is often discussed in relation to Paul's supposed view on marriage.  In reality, he could have used anything in our lives,  Marriage was merely an example, as we see in 1 Corinthians 7:35 (KJV), "And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.".  He really was dealing with our seeking.  If anything gets in the way of focusing on God, the results are far less than perfect.  No diamond qualities, none of the usefulness of good coal.  Is your focus Christian or Gentile, this week?  Is something taking your attention away from God?

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