Made to last (6)
“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” Acts 17.6
Not of this world
One of my favorite scenes in all of film is that in which Dorothy stands in the doorway of her storm-tossed house, Toto in her arms, looking out at the Technicolor world of Oz. With a somewhat hesitant look on her face, she says to her dog, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Dorothy’s world was turned upside down, and she would never be the same. If you want to contribute something that will last, some words or deeds of enduring value, you need to step out of the merely mundane and into the exciting prospects of the eternal Kingdom of the living God. You need to follow the path that Jesus walked, even though it means going against the status quo or living in entirely unexpected ways.
As when Jesus touched lepers, talked with a Samaritan woman, turned over the tables in the temple, or declared to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world.”
Or when Paul and his entourage proclaimed that Jesus, not Caesar, is King.
Too many Christians want to have their faith and Kansas, too. That is, they want to believe in Jesus without their lives changing very much. They don’t want a faith that ruffles feathers, goes against the grain, makes waves, upsets apple carts, or has to learn too much new and different. They want a faith that fits in with their existing lifestyle in our present secular and materialistic age.
Such people may be true believers, but they’ll never contribute anything of lasting value to the people around them or the times in which they live.
Above the fleeting world
True believers have been transported into a new Kingdom, with a new Sovereign, a new agenda and morality, and a new power for making all things, well, new. The fleeting forms and fascinations of this present secular age will not endure. Who won the Super Bowl three years ago? What was “Best Picture” last year? What’s number 1 on the pop chart today?
Why should we waste God’s precious gift of time on such vaporous fare?
If we want the investment we make of our time and energy to last, we need to put our efforts into advancing the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We need to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and treat every single one of our words and deeds as yellow bricks leading to the new heaven and the new earth in a land where there is no night.
How do we do this?
Set your mind
First, prepare well. Devote your words and deeds in prayer to the Lord and His Kingdom. Let the light of His Word go before you, shining on your path and illuminating your mind and speech. Set your mind on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Put off everything that ties you to this black-and-white world and wrap yourself in the spiritual Technicolor of Christ. Commit each moment of time to the work of the Kingdom, so that nothing sneaks up on you and you are able to make the most of every opportunity for a lasting contribution to the lives of others.
Then, keep a close watch on your life throughout the day. Keep short accounts with God; resist every temptation to disobey His Word. Confess and repent of all sin. Don’t waste your words or strength on things that cannot last. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.
Live from the spiritual world into the physical: Pray without ceasing. Sing psalms and hymns to yourself. Do everything you do and let every word you speak be designed to honor, please, and praise the Lord in heaven. Refuse to let yourself get dragged or bogged down in merely mundane things. Everything you do has eternal significance if you keep your focus on the Lord and determine to serve Him faithfully in every moment.
Live this way, day-in and day-out, and the likelihood will greatly increase that some of your words and deeds will impact others for the grace and truth of God, signaling the reality of a Kingdom not of this world, and inviting them to join you in a glorious journey to someplace far greater than the Emerald City.