Biblical Eyesight Emerging Forefront
Recently my wife and I decided to get cable TV for the first time since we have been married. The channel that we have started watching the most is the Food Network. I love watching the cooking competitions to see what amazing food these chefs make under pressure and a short amount of time. The show I enjoy watching the most is Chopped. On this show four chefs are given a basket of ingredients to prepare a world class dish with. An example of a typical basket is: venison, jar of blueberry preserve, hot peppers, and fruit loops. You have to use all four ingredients, plus anything else in the kitchen in order to qualify. Typically on the show the chefs come up with some really good looking food. I think Chopped is a good example of what the Christian life is like. God has given us a set of abilities and gifts that we are required to use to grow His kingdom with. The Apostle Peter wrote:
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh,which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. I Peter 2:11-12
Peter in this passage reminds us how we are not citizens of this world, and we are not to be living like those who are citizens of the world.
Even as we slog through the trials, persecutions, irritations, temptations, distractions, apathy, and just plain weariness of this world, the gospel points us to heaven where our King Jesus—the Lamb of God who was crucified in our place and raised gloriously from the dead—now sits interceding for us.1
Since we have Jesus who took the place for our sins, and He intercedes for us we are called to live a godly life. Peter says we are stay away from temptations of the flesh. Temptations of the flesh are things that can bring us down. Often temptations are different for different people. While we have our own spiritual gifts; we also have our own temptations. Some things we struggle with, and other things do not even effect us. We have to keep those temptations in check, or we will fall to them. It could hurt our reputation with unbelievers. We called to bring good to the world, even when the world is not bringing good to us. So how do we know how to live godly lives when it seems like the world is against us? James gives us the answer.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:2-6
We are called to ask for wisdom when times are tough. Sadly, I think this verse is misquoted often because everyone ignores the context. Most people just mention that we are called to ask for wisdom, but not the time we are called to ask for it. We focus on the what, and ignore the when. We are to ask God for wisdom when times are difficult, and we do not know what to do. When life challenges us, we need to know how to us our gifts to bring God glory. We are called to use our gifts even in tough times.
The past masters of the Christian life stressed that it is not lived on the basis of our feelings but in fulfilling duties. Sanctification is not a mood condition, but the submission of our wills to the will of God.2
Growing closer to God does not mean we will always be happy. It means we submit to Him and seek out His will for our lives in order for us to know how to best use our gifts. Jeremiah 29 is the best example of this. The people of Judah had been sent to exile to Babylon, and by all accounts they were not where they wanted to be. They are one point thought they were cursed because they were not in the promised land anymore. Jeremiah told them they were not. He encouraged them with these words:
“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you,and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. – Jeremiah 29:10-14
These words often bring us encouragement as well because they remind us of how God does have a plan for our life. Sometimes we do not like the things God has put in our basket, whether it be a talent we have (or do not have), difficult circumstances ranging from financial problems to health issues, or even relationships that seem to bring you down and not lift you up. In my own life, I always wished I had the gift of music. I always felt like I could not serve God to the fullest because I do not have any musical talents. I can barely play Guitar Hero. The truth is, God has given me other gifts instead, that I am called to use to glorify God. I think D.A. Carson wraps up this discussion best when he wrote:
In short, the church must hunger for personal and corporate submission to the lordship of Christ. We must desire to know more of God’s presence in our lives, and pray for a display of unleashed, reforming, revivifying power among us, dreading all steps that aim to domesticate God. But such prayer and hunger must always be tempered with joyful submission to the constraints of biblical discipline.
1Gilbert, Greg (2010-03-23). What Is the Gospel? (p. 122). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.
2Sinclair Ferguson. In Christ Alone: Living the Gospel Centered Life (p. 160). Kindle Edition.
3Carson, D. A. (1996-08-01). Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians, 12-14 (p. 188). Baker Academic. Kindle Edition