Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Business is Life, Not Death...Life is Urgent

I enjoy The Message Paraphrase but sometimes I have to go back to my NIV or Wesleyan Study Bible to see what The Message is talking about.  The phrase that I used as the title comes from The Message paraphrase of Luke 9:60 which, in the Wesleyan Study Bible reads:
"Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."
The comment in the Wesleyan Study Bible on this particular section is:
"The Cross is crowded out by the cares of life."
What is this business of life?  Why is it so urgent?  Every person's experience is different but, personally, I have recently had this sense that in the United States we are literally talking ourselves to death!  We're not using words of life but rather words of death.  Hopelessness, helplessness and despair.  There's plenty of doom and gloom to go around-the economy is bad, Congress seems to be doing nothing, the President seems to be unclear about a plan or direction.  Even in our own church, our leaders focus on decline and lack of resources!  I think we are all pretty clear on the challenges we face considering the fact that we hear about it in endless news reports!  There's an old saying that says you get what you expect, meaning you get what you focus on.  What has been our focus as of late?  Death.  Death of jobs, death of growth, death of the American dream, death of working together, death of hopes, ideas and possibilities. 

Our business is not death!  Our business is life and it is urgent business!  Jesus was very clear when asked what was the greatest command.  First, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.  Second, love your neighbor as yourself.  Do for others what you would have them do for you. 

How do you do the first?  Seek God's Spirit first!  Praise, worship, prayer and Bible study put you in a position of peace, love, joy, hope and faith.  You open yourself up to the possibility of new God given ideas and insights!  It's not about what you can do, it is about what God can do in you and through you!  When you take the focus off of yourself, it's like climbing to the top of a mountain where your view suddenly expands!  Praise, worship, prayer and Bible study are tools.    They help you seek God's Spirit.

That expanded view brings us to the second part of the greatest command.  We all want to be loved, cherished and respected.  We all want to be treated kindly.  No one wants to live a life of fear, a life of lack, a life of insecurity, a life that is so unstable that we go from crisis to crisis with no end in sight!  Fear, in my opinion, is the greatest driving factor behind self obsession.  It causes us to do whatever we can to protect ourselves and to protect what little we have.  It raises the question of "what's in it for me?"  We are so afraid of losing something that we are not willing to step out and give.  We become so entrenched that we choose not to work with others for the good of all.  The second part calls us to focus outward-to treat others kindly.  It could be as simple as offering a word of encouragement.  It could be as simple as taking the extra produce from the garden and bringing it to the local food shelf.  It could be as simple as risking some of that hard earned money and helping a local entrepreneur with a good idea expand his small business.  It could be as simple as mentoring a parolee and helping them get a solid start on a new life.  The list is endless but the point is simple.  How do you want to be treated?  That is how God expects you to treat those around you.  The Spirit of God is loving and forgiving and generous.  It guides us on right paths, corrects us when we stray and gives us vision and purpose.  It is not a spirit of despair it is a SPIRIT of LIFE!

It's time to start speaking life!  It's time to get our moral compass back on track and start focusing on the greatest command!  That doesn't mean we put on rose colored glasses and bury our heads in the sand and ignore our problems hoping that things will get better.  It means we stop the finger pointing and the blaming.  It means turning our focus from ourselves and this narrative of fear and death and instead focusing on God and climbing that mountain towards the bigger view.  It means using our God given creativity and acting on God inspired ideas.  It means rolling up our sleeves and working together!

Our business is life and it is urgent!  It's time to start acting like it and it is time to start speaking words of life! 

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