A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Change requires breaking the bonds of familiarity. We often fail to change because we become familiar with our present state and that familiarity holds us in bondage.
It took over seventy years for the citizens of the former Soviet Union to overturn the tyrannical communist government and win their freedom. Why did it take so long? One reason was certainly fear. In the early years of the state, disagreement with Stalin and his hand-selected group of leaders meant death for the dissenter and his family. Consequently, few dared to revolt against the oppressive rule of their communist leaders.
What was supposed to be a utopia of standard living conditions for all citizens because every citizen worked their best for the good of everyone else in the state ended with the widening gap of the haves and have nots. Most of the country felt the abject poverty that results from the majority of the populace doing just enough to get by. Why work hard when all your labor profited someone else and your family still suffered?
Such is the result of communist and socialist rule because people are sinful and selfish. For the most part, we care about ourselves and our families. The world would be a pretty good place if we lived by the two commandments Jesus said encompassed the rest of God’s laws. What were they? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Well...we prove everyday that we are not very good at the first with more than half our formerly “Christian” nation not claiming any adherence to any formal religion. And the news shows we certainly don’t love our neighbor when we see the mass shootings, violent crime, more interest in our cell phone than in looking someone in the eye to discover who they are, what they felel, and how we might help them.
We are extremely selfish. It’s what started the whole problem with our separation from God in the first place. Adam and Eve wanted to be as smart as their creator. They ate the fruit of the forbidden tree and knew the difference between good and evil. They understood disobedience. Was there something special about that fruit? I’m not sure that tree was much different than any of the other fruit trees in the garden. But it was forbidden. They were not to climb over the fence and eat its fruit.
Cows are not supposed to stick their heads through the fence to eat grass from the other side, but they do. Kids are not supposed to stick their hands in the forbidden cookie jar, but they do. Teenage boys are not supposed to peak at the smut magazines that used to be hidden from view on the top shelves of the racks, but they do. Toddlers are not supposed to take toys away from their playmates, but they do. Kids are not supposed to bully other kids at school that might be a little different from them, but they do.
Do you get the point? We are evil. We think evil thoughts. We do evil deeds. We act out. We don’t do what we are supposed to do. We do what we are not supposed to do. We are selfish and we get stuck in that mode because we are comfortable in that attitude. We know it is wrong, but we do it anyway because its our familiar way of life from birth. We are in bondage to self satisfaction.
So how do we get out of this rut? How do we break away from the familiar, even if it might be good, so that we can have an even better life? The Soviets struggled under their oppressive life for more than 70 years. The Israelites lived in exile for 70 years before they could return to their capital city of Jerusalem. We stick with old habits for decades knowing they are bad for us. We just don’t or can’t break away from the familiar.
It’s like a test sociologists did several years ago in which they placed a man dressed as if a homeless drunk midway between the street corner and the entrance to a facility focused on helping people with resume preparation, job hunting, skill enhancement, and so forth. Each day, they moved the man closer to the door of the building.
At first, the workers turned toward the man and noticed he was there, but most just walked by with saying or doing anything. No one asked if he needed help. A few put a few coins in his cap or cup, but that was about the extent of their aid. Remember these are people in the business of helping people! The interesting point of their experiment, though, is that as they moved the man closer to the entrance, they finally got to the point the employees had to step over the man to gain entrance. Still, however, no one in the building whose job centered on helping people just like this guy offered to lend a hand, take him into their offices, and give them exactly the help they gave their paying customers on a daily basis. They just let him obstruct their path without further notice.
That’s why companies spend money on consultants. It’s not that the staff isn’t smart enough to solve their own problems. It’s mainly because after a few months or years, we can’t see the problem anymore. We just step over the homeless guy in the doorway or around the gaping hole in the floor or ignore the broken shelf. We are so familiar with those things we just don’t see them anymore. The high priced consultant brings new eyes into the building and sees those things that you smack your forehead after the fact with a resounding, “Duh! Why didn’t I see that?”
We do. It’s just becomes so familiar we don’t think to change it because we’ve grown so accustomed to the circumstance or situation.
We can get that way in our homes, in our jobs, and in our spiritual lives. We can get familiar and complacent. We can forget when God allows us to come into his presence in prayer that we are conversing with the maker of the universe. We forget the awe he should inspire in us because we sometimes get a little too familiar. We forget the sacrifice he made so that we can speak with him. We forget he is will to forgive our sins and provide his awesome, overwhelming, stunning grace to us.
God does invite us to speak with him. Paul did tell us when we are his followers we become God’s children and coheirs this Jesus. We are adopted into his family when we repent and he forgives us our sins. But it is dangerous territory when we get so familiar with him that we begin to step over those far from him that he puts in our path to share his good news. We need to have his eyes as we travel through life. We need to open our ears to hear the cry of those around us. We need to be ready to not just give our testimony, but to be like Jesus. He always had time for the down and out, the hurting outcasts of society. He saw people as his Father saw them and ministered to them as his Father directed.
To be like Jesus, we must change. God will work on us every day to make us more like him... if we let him. And there it is. The big if. So the million dollar question for each of us today, “Will I let God into my heart, soul, mind, and strength as I love him with everything I am, so that he can work his plans for this world through me. Am I willing to let him change me and use me in any way he sees fit to further his kingdom in the place I stand right now?
That what he asks of us every moment of every day. If you ask him to let you be his instrument to reach others with his good news, it’s a pray he will always answer … sometimes in pretty amazing and unusual ways. Get ready for an exciting ride when you earnestly pray that prayer. How about it? Are you ready to get away from the routine and start a new adventure?
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.