There is the parable told of an English captain whose compass was wrong, but by a couple of degrees. He set out for New York and ended up in Florida. That tale may make us smile, but it should caution us about how we calibrate our compass that sets our course through life. How tragic would it be to come to the end of life and to be filled with regret at the realization that we have spent our days misguided, focused on good things but not true things; or most terribly, to find that we are far from the Heavenly home we thought was our destination?
Is your true North in life Jesus Christ;
God come in flesh, Savior of the World, Risen Lord, and Coming King?
Or, are you taken by ‘high sounding philosophy’ of human potential,
success, prosperity, pleasure, or power?
The free flow of information that is possible through digital communications in the 21st century is a double-edged sword. How wonderful is it that the world has become our neighborhood, that we can befriend people literally on the other side of the globe? With a click on the screen, we can sit at the feet of teachers from every nation. This demands a new kind of discernment, a deep caution, and an anchor in the Truth. Not all ‘truth’ is created equal. There are many ideas that are appealing without context, that seem right but which are untethered from the truth of Christ and thus to be rejected.
John, when an old man, saw the ravages that smooth-talking teachers were bringing to the Church. They came denying that Jesus was the God, Incarnate. They, like thousands since then, used the language of Christianity, but turned the meanings inside out. The old man, an elder, who loved deeply, warned them and us with uncompromising words. “There are a lot of smooth-talking charlatans loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Antichrist! And be very careful around them so you don’t lose out on what we’ve worked so diligently in together; I want you to get every reward you have coming to you. Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son.“ (2 John 7-9, The Message)
If you are reading this and believe that I am making an appeal for a return to some ‘old time religion’ you are mistaken. The holiness codes of my youth that substituted rigorous rules to govern behavior were often misguided and led to guilt, not fullness of joy in the Lord. The appeal is that we should live a life centered on the revelation of Jesus Christ, a faith placed in His offering on the Cross, an assurance that rests on His bodily Resurrection.
Listen to Paul’s words. This man, once an ardent religionist, met Jesus and in Him found the meaning, the purpose, and the hope that would lead him to his eternal home. “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:7-11, NLT) Truth!
Have you become your own god? Are you convinced that you are wise enough, that you have insight that reaches far enough, to discard the wisdom of the Word, to ignore the accumulated experiences of Christians through the ages, to live outside of the community of faith, creating your own ‘truth’?
A century ago, G. K. Chesterton wrote of the conceit of self-confidence. “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums. … Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.” – Orthodoxy
Here is a word from the Word. The Spirit calls us to anchor our hope in Jesus Christ, to walk in the truth, and to remain deeply connected to the Body of Christ. Will we?
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19-25, NLT)
In Christ Alone
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
Keith Getty | Stuart Townend
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