A by-product of our 250 channel cable connections, our smartphones that beep and chirp from early morning to late into the evening, and a consumer society formed around style rather than function, is an 11th Commandment – ‘Thou shalt find a new experience today.’ Are you one of those people captivated by novelty? Before you judge this as an appeal for a return to the ‘good old days,’ let me finish.
Fresh and living is quite different from novel and ‘exciting.’ Continuing to learn, adopting new technology and methods that make life better, being a person who is growing intellectually and emotionally is very good. However, there are basics of life – loving relationships, integrity, faithfulness, responsibility – to name a few – that are never outdated or worn.
Some have translated the desire for new things to their faith into a constant search for novelty. They are convinced that some new experience, teacher, song, or program will be the key to a knowing God better, to being spiritual fulfilled. Churches across our nation are trying to stay alive with highly programmed ‘worship’ services that are produced like a rock concert. It’s all topped off with a hip preacher who offers ‘relevant’ teaching formed around a dab of doctrine, mixed with a bit of Bible, accompanied by a full plate of ‘human interest’ stories. Discipleship is frequently confused with a 6 week course to acquaint a person with the church’s programs. That kind of ‘worship’ may stir our emotions, even raise our enthusiasm, but when the amps are turned off and the lights go down, without the hype and stimulation, will we even think of “God” or good until the next show begins?
Paul pointed in an entirely different direction to discover life in Christ. He counseled Pastor Timothy to reject the windbags with “novel” teaching, to look beyond finding a “new” message to bring in bigger crowds. Instead, he told him to “Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for what we believe. Hold tightly to the eternal life that God has given you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses.” (2 Timothy) Of his own ministry, he says, “we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
Becoming a follower of Jesus, a person who is genuinely lovely and who serves well, who knows how to deal with temptation successfully, who is wise and discerning, and who lives with deep joy is a life-long engagement with Christ – through good and bad, ups and downs, excitement and boredom, plenty and need, trial and victory. The message of the Cross is timeless. The pathway of discipleship, formed around confession, service, worship, prayer, and the truth of Scripture, is an ancient way. “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV)
God, the Holy Spirit, does bring new life, times of refreshing, and a living hope to us. His work, however, is not based in novelty or excited emotions. He works in us by the energy of the Spirit, growing like a seed – steadily- and through the eternal Word made available to us- in our time, where we live- transforming us from death to life. So, we pursue the Living God, seeking His ancient path to new life, and that Way leads us ‘home.’
Here is a word from the Word. “I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.”
Then he said, “It’s happened. I’m A to Z. I’m the Beginning, I’m the Conclusion. From Water-of-Life Well I give freely to the thirsty. Conquerors inherit all this. I’ll be God to them, they’ll be sons and daughters to me.” (Revelation 21:3-7, The Message)
Christ alone, Cornerstone,
Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love.
Through the storm, He is Lord,
Lord of all.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
Edward Mote | Eric Liljero | Jonas Myrin | Reuben Morgan | William Batchelder Bradbury
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