Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Today’s Topic: Change Me!
Today’s Text: Isaiah 56:1 “This is what the LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.”
I saw it again. I saw a lot of it. I didn’t like seeing it. Seeing it in others made me realize how much of it is in me as well, and that scares me. It will change me. I pray that it will change in others also, but that is not really up to me. I must participate with God to change me. I desire to be less humanistic about my faith.
Vacations are good for a lot of reasons, but for me the greatest benefit to a trip away from normal life is that the Lord gets more of my attention. It shouldn’t be that way, but it is. Busyness with all our stuff and our agendas is one of the symptoms of the disease that has invaded our spiritual lives. We know the symptoms exist, and we can even identify them, but we are in denial about the disease that causes them. The disease is humanism.
That’s right, we Christians, who are to be followers of Christ, are much of the time followers of self. We have chosen a humanistic approach to life, to goals, to success, to decision-making, to everything, and then to attempt to satisfy the longing of our soul we have wrongly added what we call faith in God to it all. We have made a religious choice that we think complements our humanistic choices, when we should be destroying all dependence upon the flesh and living continually in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
What do we think Jesus meant when He said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?
Deny yourself. Lose your life. Those are the things that mark a follower. But for some reason we have assumed a right of leadership not granted by God. We have arrogantly and probably ignorantly decided to ask God to fulfill our wishes and desires. We have become the leader of God rather than the follower of Christ.
What we don’t understand is that God will not be led. Instead, He lets us go ahead, but all on our own. Oh, He never forsakes us, and never really leaves us, but He stops listening to our demands for what we want. He stops providing fixes for our failures. In His jealous love for us He allows us to fall on our humanistic faces so we are in the proper position to pick up a cross.
But even when we are on our faces, we tend to justify how we got there, and we develop plans for how we are going to get up. We make resolutions to save more, spend less, eat less, and exercise more. We make commitments to watch television less, study more, pray more, and sin less. But far too often those resolutions are prescriptions we choose to take to relieve the symptoms when we have done nothing to cure the disease.
The only cure for the disease of humanism is death. Now before you get carried away and jump to a conclusion not intended, I am speaking in spiritual terms. The right to self-government of our lives must die. The right to fleshly fulfillment must die. The right to social success must die. The right to financial security must die. In other words, the right to our own rights must die.
Only in death can there be life. We have done our best to try to prove that wrong. We have tried to add life to death. We have attempted to bring eternal life into the context of our humanism and call it salvation, which denies the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. How can we know His resurrection power if we do not die? But we have tried, and we are in denial of how badly it is turning out. To admit it doesn’t work is to admit human failure and to de-value our lives, neither of which is acceptable to modern man’s philosophy of self-worth.
But it is only at the point of death to self that the life of Jesus can be experienced. Many of you know that, and have lived that way. But maybe we have lost or minimized our first love for God’s incredible grace. We have, whether in a few or in many areas, replaced it with love for humanistic pursuits. I know I have. It must change.
Today begins a new adventure of denial of self. I will need help from God. I want help from you. When I am guilty of exalting self rather than denying self, tell me. Do it with love and a humble heart that recognizes that you may be doing the same thing in some area of your life. Together we will die to self and be transformed by the renewing of our minds so we can prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)