Monday, September 28, 2015

Seeking the Goal

image used under Public Domain license, from
Matthew 6:33  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

I try to live by that verse.  And, when I need a verse to guide me through situations, it pops up for me, more than any other verse.  And it's part of what brought this series into existence.  This is actually the fourth post in a set that's been here and our Other Stuff blog.  The series began two Saturdays ago, with a catch up discussion of where I was with the tech side of my life.  I closed that post talking about the fact that I was planning and there's a spiritual aspect to that.

Most Christians are familiar with the verse we began with, often included with the verse that immediately follows.

Matthew 6:34  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

That's good counsel.  But the thought that struck me wasn't about troubles and bad things.  As most of you know, I'm hoping that things will work out to move to the foreign mission field in Costa Rica.  Moving outside the US, costs increase greatly to move things elsewhere.  So, downsizing becomes a necessity.  There's a certain amount of tech that I'll need for my studying, blogging, and writing.  And maybe to keep some of my favorite music flowing.  But, beyond that, you don't want to spend a fortune on transporting stuff outside the country.  There's another reason to downsize.

Unless a move to the mission field is to a first world locale, having a lot of stuff can only highlight the difference between the missionary's life experience and the experiences of those he or she is trying to evangelize and disciple.  Certainly, people will recognize the heart behind the desire to share the Gospel and God's love.  But I wonder, if there's too obvious an economic difference, whether that difference will seem like a barrier to those who haven't been blessed in the same way. Will they see the missionary as not understanding their circumstances?  And, therefore, the Gospel message seems less valid for them?  That's definitely good reason to not be overly embroiled in possessions.

There's a more personal set of reasons to downsize and to limit tech.  The first relates to our experiences.  Whether it's nice locations, conversations, social interactions, or virtual reality, what we see and hear online or in movies and TV is not real life.  Each form of technical interaction has its own limitations that leave us missing out on things that could be happening in our lives.  Along with that, they carry misinformation as well as truth.  They need to be used with caution.

The second reason is more insidious.  And it applies to life as much as the spiritual realm.

1 John 2:15-16  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Think of our illustration.  It's a kayaker aiming toward the horizon.  Indeed, the picture was titled "Chasing the Horizon".  But, unless the kayaker is an explorer or a Polynesian performing some ceremonial trip into eternity, he has a goal, somewhere at or over the horizon.  Think with me on this.  Picture him with a battery operated TV, a tablet or small PC, and a cell phone.  As each one contends for the kayaker's attention, his focus is taken away from his goal on the horizon.  And it becomes increasingly likely that, every time the kayaker takes his eyes off the goal, he goes more and more off course, missing the goal he so desires.

Whether our goal is to improve at our job, find a new job, improve our family life, or improve spiritually, 1 John 2:15-16 tells us not to focus on the distractions.  1 Timothy 6:10 says, "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."  Those two passages or Luke 18:22 give us a really interesting insight.  The Bible never says we need to live in poverty or hate possessions.  It says we need to keep them in perspective.  We must properly prioritize what's in our lives.  The rich man in that passage in Luke had already said he adhered to the law.  He was a doer.  He did the right things.  Jesus was testing his priorities so he could see where his own heart was focused.

Whether it's living life, on the job, or in our spiritual walk, we don't want to be a hindrance to others (Jeremiah 18:15, Romans 14:13, 1 Corinthians 8:9).  In whatever realm, our life ought to guide others.  And our own focus needs to be on the right things, as well.  There are some related thoughts in the LifeNotes coming up on the next two Thursdays.  But we'll finish this series with some of my own intentions for my own tech and possessions, this coming Saturday.

For now, consider how your own attitudes, possessions, etc. effect others.  Is your focus distracting others?  And is it incorrectly prioritizing your own goals?

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