Thursday, September 10, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: How Much Time Do You Have For God?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 4:3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
As much as I love this time of year, I know I should hate it. Maybe hate is too harsh of a word, but I know that at the least I need to adjust my priorities during this season. It is the season of overlaps. No, I’m not talking about my waistline. I’m talking about all of the things that come together this time of the year. My Tigers are in first place and headed for the payoffs in baseball. My two fantasy football teams are in place. The NFL season kicks off tonight. Archery season for deer starts Saturday. The weather has been perfect for fall fishing. And of course, the golf courses are in pristine condition. There’s so much to do and so little time in which to do it.
The older I get, and the more aware I become of eternity, the more I realize how much of my life has been spent placing significance on the insignificant. This came home to me very clearly yesterday when I participated in the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire’s Community Connect day on campus. Thanks to the help of a couple of college students who attend our church, we set up a display about our church on the main mall area of the campus along with several other churches and businesses. The goal was to help students connect with their community while they attend college.
My heart was overwhelmed with the thought of how many of these students will go to a Christ-less eternity of suffering because they have never been directly confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I worked hard to connect with as many as I could in the four hours I was there. I personally greeted and handed literature to over 250 students. I don’t know how many more my two assistants spoke to. Many of the students took the material to be polite. Some were sincerely interested. Several stopped to talk. There was no mention of football or baseball. There was no attempt to build a relationship based on common interests in sports or music or any other pursuit of life. We got right to the point of spiritual need. Two young men were obviously impacted by the message. One was frustrated with the confrontation of the illogic of his position. At least six were drawn to make a commitment to attend our church. Dozens of others showed sincere interest. Hundreds have something in their hand that the Holy Spirit can use to open their hearts.
Now comes the hard part for me – making a point that will hurt. It’s so hard that the tears are already welling up in my eyes. I don’t want to sound critical, and I certainly don’t want to alienate you. But what the Apostle Peter says in the first part of today’s verse really jumps out at me and drives this point deep into my heart. He says, “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do…” Now I know the context, and that Peter is talking specifically about evil desires. I also know that football, baseball, golf, fishing, fantasy games, video games, books, bike-riding, scrapbooking, and all of the other recreational activities of our lives are not evil. But let’s be honest – they can and more often than not do keep us from doing the will of God. We have made them more significant than they really are. Peter says that we are to be done doing that.
I’m going to get even more personal now. Yesterday, after returning from the campus, I posted some of the information above to Facebook. Of all the people connected to me, 106 in all, only three responded in any way. I cried when I saw that this morning; especially when I went on to read all of the other posts that many of those same people had made. It broke my heart to think that the majority of the body of Christ didn’t rejoice over what God was doing. Maybe in their hearts they did, but just didn’t write about it. But they did take the time to write about other stuff. I’m truly sorry, my friends. I am not trying to lay guilt on you. I apologize for the way my heart is being expressed this morning that may be offensive to you. I have gone back over this a dozen times in prayer and asked God to re-write it, but He won’t. He has assured me His people will listen. He has brought me His peace that the church will pay attention and understand that we have all placed far too much significance on the insignificant, and we are missing the real meaning and purpose of our lives.
Over the next few days we are going to hear the growing roar of football fans. Talk of football, whether fantasy or NFL, will dominate the discussions over the dinner table. Hours will be spent studying players and teams to get our fantasy teams just right, and more hours will be spent smack talking others in our leagues. Golf courses will be running fall specials and we will go there to get away from the busyness of life. We will take advantage of every outdoor opportunity because we know that winter is coming. And during all of those activities, we will have placed the most significant coming of all way down on our priority list – the coming of Jesus. That’s what’s truly significant!
It’s not wrong to play fantasy football. It’s not a sin to golf. It’s not evil to have hobbies and enjoy recreation. But why do those things become more significant in our lives than serving Jesus and sharing the Gospel? Our lives are not properly balanced. In many cases, Christ gets the leftovers of our time rather than best of what we have to offer. Let us take to heart the words of Peter. We have spent enough time in the past doing all of those other things. It’s time now to do the will of the Father and the work of Christ. It’s time to get people connected to God.