ESSAY TWO: Are we and our family and friends both aiming at the same goal?
The world is constantly holding up to us images and ideas about what the aims of our life should be. It is not just folks who are trying to sell us something—it is Satan.
Perhaps my pointing to Satan catches you off guard. However, I would point out that God created a very good world. God created a world where you and I are meant to aim at God’s goals for our lives. It is Satan who takes God’s good creation and twists it. He twists it so that we aim at his goals. His ultimate goal is that we deny God and instead we serve him. He is pleased when he has tricked us into serving him, while we think we are doing nothing wrong. His end for us is destruction.
Consider Jesus’ temptation. Satan sought to tempt Jesus three ways.
First, in Luke 4:3 he sought to tempt him with material needs, with possessions: “Command this stone to become bread”. Your reaction might be, “Come on David, Jesus was hungry.” Two points. Material needs often seem like reasonable things we need. Yet don’t those needs always seem to always escalate? Second, it was how Jesus was going to fulfill those needs. Using his power to get them at the direction of Satan. Possessions in and of themselves are not bad. Again, God created the world therefore he created these items we desire to possess. It is how Satan twists our desire and inserts himself into the process. When we go down this path, in the end our desire for possessions actually owns us.
Second, in Luke 4:6 Satan sought to tempt Jesus with position: “I will give you all the authority and glory of the kingdom of the world – so long as you worship me (Satan).” Again, two points. Having authority and responsibility is not a bad thing. Yet Jesus in many other places points out over and over how we in positions of responsibility must serve, vice be served. Second, it is again how Satan suggests Jesus obtain this position, by worshipping Satan. When we go down the path of pursuing position at all costs, we in the end are serving Satan. And again, the position, our need for it, owns us.
Third, in Luke 4:9-10 Satan sought to tempt Jesus with passion: Satan took him to the Temple Mount and said throw yourself down and the angels will come and rescue you. The temptation for Jesus was to feel the rush of adrenaline, and the pleasure of power. God again creates us to enjoy certain aspects of life—we derive pleasure. Yet Satan can twist our very being so that we desire this pleasure more and more. The result is that we are again owned by that which we first enjoyed.
Today the Lord of this world, the Father of Lies, is constantly seeking to draw men and women into his snares of possessions or position or passions. Oh, how often we have seen these three powerfully woven together to form a weapon that destroys lives.
You and I face these temptations. We seek to resist them. Why? Because we are aiming to follow Jesus.
And therein “lies the rub”.
Many of our friends and family think their pursuing possessions, or position, or pleasure outside the boundaries God has established are not wrong.
They have bought into the lies. They say to themselves, “We are NOT standing in the open street shaking our fist at God, we are good people, simply wanting a good life.” The Father of Lies has the world doing his bidding as he convinces men and women to think all that they pursue is good and normal. Further, he has convinced them that it is the followers of Christ who are uptight, judgmental, mean-spirited ignoramuses.
You and I know that at the end of this road lies death. Not just eternal death but death today; lives full of misery. People crippled by debt as they seek more and more possessions. People relationally isolated from others as their positional rise to power drives them to step on others. People captured by addiction with each successive adrenaline rush requiring just “a wee bit more”. You see the Father of Lies has succeeded in convincing so many of our friends and family that all of this is not wrong. Yet we know it is a lie because there are never enough of these things to satisfy anyone.
I understand I am painting a stark picture when considered in comparison to the many people we know who in our minds have not reached these depths of depravity. My friends, hell will be filled with people who were seemingly content as they chased after earthly desires.
If that is the situation, what is the solution?
Let’s you and I consider some more theology. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come to give you life, and life more abundant.” We understand that this “abundant life” starts NOW—the moment we receive Jesus.
We understand that following Jesus does not yield a lesser life on earth. Quite the contrary. It leads a full life on earth.
And that life, that abundant life, is MAGNETIC!
This is the opportunity: and it is HUGE.
It will be hard. We will face temptation. But if we can truly live in a godly manner we will deal with possessions and position and power—according to God’s will—and that in turn will draw others to Christ.
Simply put, when we are in tune with God, walking with him, we are aiming for something entirely different from the world. We are aiming to know and serve God—and enjoy Him forever.
That aim will take precedence over all else. We may have comfortable lives. We may have certain worldly pleasures we enjoy. We may be blessed to have a position of importance. Yet we will always seek to enjoy all of these by obeying God’s Law.
Have you ever looked at another person’s life and thought, “Wow, their life is cool!” Have you ever been drawn to someone whose life is magnetic? We should avoid comparison, but if we are honest, we notice.
I am a follower of Jesus today because, in part, I saw the peace a co-worker had. I desperately wanted that peace. He, and his family’s life, was magnetic.
Step Two in reaching our family and friends is to have our following of Jesus lead us to living an Abundant Life. Please note I am not talking about the Prosperity Gospel. I am talking about what our lives look like as we go about our days and weeks and months. Do we have peace? We, like everyone will have ups and downs. At issue is how do we handle them?
You will know you are making progress, you are witnessing an abundant life, when your family and friends call you to pray. The calls are always interesting. People say things, like, “I know you know God, I just learned a co-worker has cancer, will you pray for them.” Now your first reaction is typically, “You could pray for them. You can have access into the very throne room of God.”
But can I suggest you suspend that reaction. Can I suggest you say, “Sure, in fact lets you and I pray right now, it won’t take long.” And can I further suggest your prayer be simple, relational, and SHORT!
I know your heart is breaking for your friends and family. I know you want them RIGHT NOW to surrender to Jesus. But it will take time. Let them see:
- Step One: that you really care about them.
- Step Two: That your knowing Jesus really does make a difference in your life.
At issue is eternity. We want them to live forever. They don’t know what forever means. Today they are aiming for a “good life”. But Satan, as he often does, twists the good things God has given us—in fact perverted them and camouflaged them as things “normal folks” ought to pursue.
The key is to let folks see that you are pursuing many of the same things, with limits, the limits that lead you to pursue God (and in the end not become enslaved to them).
Be present in your family and friends lives. Let them be present in yours. Let them see how your aim for Jesus gives you an Abundant Life amid the craziness of the world—when you do, your life will be MAGNETIC.