I’ll begin this post with a thought about excuses…but, we’ll end by considering “Why are we here?”
As a Pastor I hear a lot of excuses. I don’t mean that in a bad way necessarily. It’s just a true statement. Preachers hear a lot of excuses. I’ll see folks at the gas station or grocery store, at a restaurant, ball game, etc. and then they begin. Sorry Preacher, but we just couldn’t make it to church on Sunday because…
I don’t want to be overtly negative…so, I’ll leave it at that. Conversely, while in Ethiopia I experienced something so refreshingly amazing that I’m still astounded at it all. I had the privilege of teaching the book of 1 Peter (which is a book written to first century Christians who had been dispersed from their homeland because of persecution). I taught the book to men who came from distant villages, who are elders in their village churches. Some of these men travelled many, many miles to get to the town church where I was teaching in Alaba Kulito, Ethiopia.
These men left their homes and their farms/occupations to come to church to hear the preaching and teaching of God’s Word for an entire week. That’s right…for a week!
Where did they stay? Motel 6, Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn? No sir. They slept on the concrete floor of the church. No bed…no cot…no cushy mattress…just a hard floor. See the contrast? Many “Christians” in America offer all kinds of excuses why they can’t come to church where they will seat on a padded chair or pew in 72 to 74 degree, conditioned comfort. But, these men came and slept on concrete because they were so hungry for the Word of God and filling their lives on the Bread of Life.
These men wanted to hear the Gospel. Here are some other pictures of these wonderful, Godly men.
My priorities continue to change the older I get. I look back over my life of 43 years and I think of how much time, money and energy I have wasted on trivial things. I must admit that I see that I have placed much too much emphasis on being comfortable and secure. It’s the American way. We want to be comfortable. We want to be secure. We want to know that the bills are paid and that there is a little money in the bank, or at least that another paycheck is coming. I understand that very well. I have little in what one would call “savings” and I have even less in a “retirement account.” Why? Because I know time is short. I may not make it to retirement. What am I saving for? Am I saving for ease and luxury in the years of my life when my health might now allow me to do the things that I can do now for the Kingdom?
I know if you are a regular reader of my blog that you might be thinking “Enough already! I’m tired of hearing about the ‘American Way’ and re-placed priorities.” Well, I understand. I really do. I’m kind of weary writing about them, but it seems that because as Americans we are so immersed in our culture of materialism, prosperity-seeking, comfort and pleasure, that it takes a while to chip away these un-Biblical tenets. Why are we here? Why is man on this earth? Is it to make money, retire and die? Surely there is more to it than that!
Well, there is in my opinion. God created mankind for His own glory. We are here for Him…not ourselves. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). What a fabulous statement. It’s the last word in the statement that gets me. “Earth.” God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was created by God to house mankind and He desired to leave His throne in heaven to be with man. Thus, He walked with Adam and Eve in the “cool of the day.” God desires to be with us. Have you thought about that lately? He wants to be with us!
It’s Christmas season and we celebrate the birth of the Immanuel… “God with us.” God left our presence (as mankind) after the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden because God cannot be in the presence of sin. But, Jesus, the God-man came to be with us and yes…to actually become one of us as a man. Think of it…there is a man in Heaven at this very moment…the God-man…Jesus Christ. Jesus at this very moment still bears the marks of His desire to reconcile us to Himself in His own flesh. Holes in His wrists and feet and yes…even a belly button…just as you and I have indicating our human birth. Isn’t that amazing? And best of all…He’s coming again. He will set up His rule and reign on this earth. Yes… on this earth…not Jupiter…not Mars…not some unknown planet out in space…EARTH. Why? Because “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” From the beginning God has desired to be with us…the Creator being with the created. Amazing love indeed!
Why are we here? For His glory. That’s it. Too simple? Does that bother you? Does it seem that God is somehow stuck on Himself or sanctimonious? Listen, dear friend…God is God. Ponder that statement a moment. He is God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-mighty and is everywhere. He is Spirit that is a consuming fire who manifested Himself in the flesh of those whom He created in the person of His Son Jesus Christ…the second person of His deity. He is magnanimous and without equal…He is the immortal, invisible God of the universe, Who spoke everything into existence. Remember that. He just “spoke” and it was. Do you have that kind of power? Can you speak and make something out of nothing? Wow!
Life on this earth is temporary and fleeting. Jesus said that we should set our hearts on things above. The folks in Ethiopia have their problems and their fallacies are many…but, one thing that I see in the Christian churches in the villages of Ethiopia is this…they are hungry for Jesus. They will never know retirement…own a car…go on a vacation…own an I-Pad or a computer…so what are they living for?
That’s it. They are simply living for Jesus. Isn’t this really the essence of life? It is! It really is! We are here because of Jesus and for Jesus. I think Paul sums it up best in Colossians 1:16:
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
So we work and obtain, we amass and we accumulate. That’s fine. But, what’s the motive? Is it for Christ’s kingdom or our’s? Our’s won’t last. His will. Every dollar you and I make or earn should be looked at as His. Jesus gave me the ability to earn this dollar…now what does He want me to do with it? Should we save some money? Yes…the Scriptures teach that we should. Yet, Jesus warned of hoarding, as He told the parable of the man who built bigger barns. Should we save for retirement? Sure. Social Security is not going to be available for most of those who are reading this and are under the age of 45. But, how much is enough? For most Americans there is never enough. Ever. So, we live in fear of outliving our money.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Jesus Christ, the “Son of Man,” (Matthew 6:19-21, 25-33)
Got a son our daughter or grandchild who is in a dating relationship? Check out Katy’s blog post entitled: “A Heart Not Torn.”