What Could Be Better In My Life?
What would you say is one thing you wish was better about your life?
Some of that nature helps us to search for God. Most of it betrays us.
The temptation is for us to become covetous, greedy, self-absorbed, selfishly ambitious, and hold on to the belief that the good we have is the best--for anyone and everyone.
One way we respond when we think something good we have is losing its street cred is by pretending that it is better than it really is. Mark records the prophet Isaiah's description of hypocrites in his gospel as:
(1) honoring God with their lips while their heart is far from Him = How does this happen?
(2) worshipping God in vain = What does this mean?
(3) teaching doctrines that really are just commandments of men. (Mark 7:6-7)
Ever been found among them?
There is GOOD news, even GREAT news. Well, it is actually the BEST NEWS EVER!
God doesn't leave us where we are. He sent Jesus to show the way out and forward.
A part of that journey is being reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22-23) resulting in many genuine benefits. There are conditions we need to meet: (1) continue stable and steadfast in the faith (like Abraham), and (2) not shift from the hope of the gospel (of Jesus Christ) that we heard.
It feels good to be reconciled.
FAITH and HOPE "condition" us for being presented acceptable to God.
Faith and hope are so deeply a part of who we are and what drives us as humans; it is what our hearts hold most dear and what our minds think most about; it is at the center of our affections, dreams, and what we love.
We really need to get a grasp on this as people of God.
When you unwrap something, you typically toss the wrapping. You desert it, leave it behind because it has done its job--you consumed what was inside.
Something similar happened in the Galatian church that absolutely astonished Paul--believers had deserted God by turning to a what they thought was better than the “good news” of Jesus. Why? Well, it has something to do with exchanging good for something we think is better--that part of our nature. thing again.
Do you know what distorted means? It means to change after the fact, to pervert, to make different than before. Ever been a victim of distortion? There are many ways something can get distorted.
The Galatians’ faith and hope were in jeopardy--the Gospel they first believed was becoming a distorted--changed and perverted and made it into something it wasn’t intended to be (Galatians 1:6-7).
So let me go back to that human nature thing and ask, Have you ever abandoned something for what you thought was better only to discover later it was distorted later? You left the "good" behind for "a promise" of something better but somehow when you got it home it transformed into something less than what it was.
I describe the feeling I have in those moments as betrayal.
One thing Paul wants to save the Galatian believers from (and you and me) is that feeling of betrayal.
When it comes to the TRUE or PURE Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the TRUE and PURE Good News of His life, death, and resurrection, YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO FEAR having the feeling of BETRAYAL!
There is nothing that HAS rivaled it, and nothing ever will.
The Gospel is SO good and SO eternal and SO big, you will never exhaust its resources to the point that will you ever be able to unwrap it, consume it, and leave the wrapping behind--it is meant to be containerless for this exact purpose.
Containers are IDOLS--gods that can be cast away.
Paul sums up this experience of the true Gospel calling it, “the Promised Life” and it is God's purpose, God's holy calling for our lives (2 Tim 1:1-14).
Have you known someone who withstood the temptation of the human nature--who suffered for the Good News, who in those moments when things looked better over there, stayed with the Good News over here?
Slow down here, and answer: What does it take to not be ashamed of something?
No one goes out looking to be betrayed, scammed, spammed, or to be made to feel guilty or ashamed (v8). Paul wants to not only spare you these experiences, but he wants you to shift your eyes from those things to what is ahead of you to what he refers to as your "holy calling”(v9)--which is God’s purpose for your life. By God’s grace and power you will thrive through the suffering that comes because of the Gospel.
Paul was convinced of this (v12)!
If you want to join Paul in experiencing God’s purpose for your life, and experiencing the promised Life Jesus’ has for you, the first thing you need to be actively involved in is to never be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord (v8) by suffering for the gospel by the power of God alongside others who are doing the same--according to the pattern of faith and love Paul’s words taught you.
Guard all the good that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who lives within you = The Promised Life.
You can read one final warning in Galatians 1:8-9.
SO ... that one thing you wish was better about your life--will it increase your suffering for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Will it make your faith and hope in him more real?
Where is your heart? Are your faith and hope truly in Jesus and nothing else?
Do you need to give up some hypocritical practices of honoring God with your lips while your heart is far from Him? Of worshipping God in vain? Of passing on traditions and doctrines that have nothing to do with what obeying Jesus is all about?
Are you in danger of deserting God by turning to what you think might be better than the “good news” of Jesus? Do you find yourself holding out as if there is something better just over the horizon than what you have in Jesus? Are there some containers that are IDOLS and gods in your life you need to cast away for the Promised Life in Jesus?
Have you been testifying to the Promised Life you have in Jesus so others can join in with you?
Don’t ever be ashamed of the testimonies Jesus has given you.
Guard them by speaking up about them.
The Spirit will give you more of the Promised Life to experience.
Stay faithful; stay hopeful. Jesus has done everything you need to be so. --Amen.