I’m doing something a little different with this one. Most of you would be familiar with my writing about the Bible. But a majority of you know nothing about me. Nothing about my story. Nothing about my life. Nothing about how I got to this point in history.
And I’ve got no problems with that. At all.
This blog exists to make much of God. It is the very fabric of this whole thing. I have no higher goal or prayer. That through these words of mine, you would come to know God more. That these words would simply compel and drive you further into God’s word.
So. Working off the premise that God is glorified in our weakness. I want to do something a little bit different. I want to share with you a story from my life. It’s about a man I hardly knew. I never even got his name. But looking back, I realise how important this man’s actions were in my life. And how he challenged me without him even realising it.
Quick clarification necessary: I have always considered myself a Christian. And tons of awesome Christian men and women have come alongside me over the years. Pastors. Teachers. Grandparents. Friends. The best parents in the world. But it was the actions of a man I hardly knew that challenged me to get baptised.
I just want to start off by saying that this isn’t one of my usual posts. In other words, this post is not directly about Jesus. If you didn’t already know, or are a new reader of this blog, 99% of the time I write about Jesus. And I do this for good reasons.
Not least because He is the way to the truth and fullness of life (John 14:6, John 10:10). He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). He is the revelation of God (John 1:1-4). He is totally worthy of all our affections and every ounce of our lives (Acts 20:24; Matthew 16:24-26).And ultimately, He is the end to which we live and breathe (Colossians 3:4).
His name is Jesus.
So you can understand my joy in writing and making much of Jesus. But you will notice this post is slightly different. I say slightly, because I hope there will still be echoes of Jesus in this post. I say slightly, because I am aware that we can make much of Christ in many ways – particularly through helping others in their affliction (James 1:27).
I posted the above photo on Facebook two weeks ago. And I added to it a challenge. This is the challenge: That if the photo gets 259 likes, I will ride my bike to the Victoria and NSW border in one day. I live in South Australia. The border isn’t exactly on my doorstep. So this poses itself as a significant challenge.
The public responded. Over 300 people liked the post on Facebook. From the comfort of their couches, they have sent me out of the comfort of mine. And so the planning process began – and is still continuing as I prepare for a day of suffering.
I am aware that the majority of followers on here are American. And so you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. So, for those of you who don’t know, the ride will total approximately 430km. Or, in your outdated metrics (the truth hurts), 267 miles.
Check out the photo below if you are struggling to get your head around it.
The blue line is where my legs will (hopefully) take me. In one day. No, this is not a joke. I’ve started preparing myself physically and mentally, in gathering gear, sorting out a support car with a couple of mates, and setting aside a date to give this challenge a red hot crack. This is not a hoax. I stress that for an important reason.
Because I need your help.
I am doing this ride for a charity. Compassion Australia. If you have never heard about them, check them out. There should be a picture in the sidebar with a link to their website. Their tagline says it all: Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
They do incredible work in child sponsorship programs – freeing children from, and relieving symptoms of poverty. But their fullest impact is seen clearest in their passion not just for the temporal prolonging of lives, but in the eternal saving of souls.
So a fundraiser sprang to life. Some absolute legends have given out of their own pockets to help those in desperate need. And as I write this, we have raised a whopping $604. We are rapidly approaching our target of $1000 – which we will no doubt eclipse at this rate.
I contacted Compassion recently. They have been awesome. And so for every dollar we raise, they have agreed to direct straight into emergency medical care. So our money will not only be helping the poorest of the poor. We will also be directly helping the sickest of the sick – in the poorest communities on planet earth. Providing them with resources. Access to doctors. Pregnancy help. Cancer detection. Medicine. Surgery. Hope.
You contribution, big or small, will work to save someone’s life. No exaggeration. I can think of no better reason to get involved than that. The link to donate is at the bottom of this blog. But just in case you don’t make it that far, here it is:
If successful, we will #escapethestate in more ways than one.
Firstly, I will literally be escaping the state. Two, actually – South Australia and Victoria. If all goes successful, I will cross two borders in a day. There is a challenge in front of me. But truth is, there is a challenge in front of of us. Which leads to our next aim.
Secondly, we all need to escape the state. Not necessarily South Australia or Victoria, or any other country or state border. Rather, we need to escape the state of mind that we cannot make a difference in the world. If this is going to be successful, we need to be in it together. Because together, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of many.
Lastly, we aim to help others escape the state of poverty. It is time to cross physical, mental and economic borders to help out some friends in need. But it’s in your hands. It’s up to you. Want lasting change? Then join me in fulfilling the goal in front of us:
To release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17)
The reason for this letter is ultimately to thank you. Your words have had a profound impact and a solidifying effect on my faith. And yet, I have never met you. So it would make sense for me to outline how you fit into my story.
When I consider the people in the closest sphere of influence in my life, you do not sit among the parents, grandparents, pastors and friends that have come alongside me. Such people have, and will continue to have, a huge impact on my walk with Jesus.
My early life really set up the kindling. And a fire for God was definitely going by around Grade 10. But then a couple of years later, you waltzed into my life brandished with a flamethrower. And by the grace and power of God, began to ignite a passion in me.
It all started in early 2015. I listened to my first sermon by you – For His Sake and for Your Joy, Go Low. Soon after I found a series you preached on Job. From there I sourced a series on the Beatitudes. All of a sudden, the earphones were out at every opportunity.
All of a sudden, this Bible of mine was coming alive.
You taught me many things, for which I want to publicly appreciate.
Firstly, you taught me that the Bible is a feast. Not a snack we choose to ration, but a feast we are required to attend. The absolute centrality you place on God’s word in your public ministry is incredible. In preaching, debating, interviews, social media, blogs, books. What I notice in you is not a half heartedness to the word, but all-out saturation in it.
The way you labour over it. The way you aim to juice every bit out of the word, in order to pierce the heart with Biblical truth. The passion you present it with. I had never realised the Bible could be so interesting. You make obvious your aim to draw attention to God and away from yourself. I have grown to love that.
Secondly, you showed me that real men are totally flawed by the grace of God. Sometimes it makes me smile. Those times when you are preaching and absolutely lost for words. Arms extended, huge smile on your face, eyes brimming with joy as you find yourself passionately struggling to express the depths of the grace of God. I love that.
I love your presentation of Christ as a wonderful crutch we (the poor in spirit) can rest in and find saving grace. I love strategies like APTAT, by which there is heavy reliance on the grace and promises of God. And so it became much clearer to me. The grace of God is not a once-off experience. The grace of God is radically life-changing stuff.
Lastly, and ultimately, you taught me that Jesus is worth everything. Even my life. Especially my life. I love how you shine a light on the surpassing worth and supreme treasure that is Christ. The don’t waste your life sermons. The way you slam the prosperity gospel with actual gospel. The purpose behind all of your writing.
It is the echo of the call to magnify the LORD (Psalm 34:3). The rally cry to suffer for Jesus (Philippians 1:29). The longing that we would deny ourselves to a greater joy (Mark 8:34). To make much of Christ whether by life or death (Philippians 1:20-21).
To live a life rooted in the all-satisfying reward of being more close to Jesus.
In reflection, I think we both see something pretty clearly. What I love about you isn’t you. It is God working in and through you. And for that I will be forever grateful.
We would all be dead without it. Consider this. Somewhere along the line, you were taught everything you know and do today.
We all go through a process of learning the bare essentials. The toilet training stage. Learning how to eat and drink. Walk and talk. Then as we walk through life, we begin to understand more complex lessons. Skills like how to read and write. How to tie your shoes. How to cook. How to apologise. How to interact with one another.
Some are still learning those lessons. But truth is, we all are. Anyone who claims to know everything is delusional. The fact that we are in the 21st century, part of society as we know it today, is thanks to our ongoing learning over hundreds of years.
You see, life is a great teacher.
Teaching is part of the fabric of life, and we are students to it
And Jesus claimed to be a great teacher (John 13:13).
Now, Jesus didn’t claim teacher status to get a job down the road. This wasn’t his little spoken resume. No, this Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 16:15). The way to the truth and fullness of life (John 14:6). In light of this, we see something clearly.
When Jesus accepts claims to be a teacher, he claims to have incredible authority. Not just a teacher of maths or science. This is a teacher of life itself. Essential for the forward movement of the world. Essential for the continuation of society. Essential for life.
And importantly, every teacher has students.
In claiming to be a teacher, Jesus invites us to come and learn. To be his students. Therefore, it is essential we assess his credentials. It is essential we understand what sort of a teacher he is. Hence this new 3-part blog series. So get your red pens out.
Unfortunately, this news is greeted with mixed emotions in the 21st century. Not least because a modern day Christmas is crazy stuff. It is full throttle. Pedal to the metal. Flying on all cylinders sorta stuff.
And naturally, our priorities are angled towards other things. Amongst the stuff, we tend to drop God down our list of priorities.
In fact, a prevailing view in society today is that Christ has lost relevance. This is a vague objection often blindly asserted in public places. It is this mammoth misconception founded on the belief that because times have changed, we don’t need God anymore.
Hate to be blunt, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
At Christmas we celebrate God putting us at the top of his priority list.
Christmas isn’t our busy lives stepping into God, but God stepping into our busy lives. Identifying with us. Sharing in our sufferings. Showing the deep love he has for us.
And if that doesn’t totally blow you out of the water, nothing will.
Christmas isn’t some watered down, lame fairytale we tell children before bed. We are celebrating the very presence of God here.God’s presence gives the world relevance. You’re unlikely to believe this if you don’t spend time seeking it.
At the birth of any baby, the first people invited to see the little dude or dudette are significant. VIP backstage pass sorta thing. It is usually reserved for close friends and family members.
We learn a lot about Jesus by the first people invited into His presence. God’s VIP list consisted of a poor couple, some lonely and inadequate outcasts, and three men sent by a corrupt king. A bit random to say the least. Not exactly hard hitting stuff.
Why were these people the first invited into the presence of God?
MARY AND JOSEPH
God called a poor couple from an average town, to share in the riches and deepest joys of his eternally worthy Kingdom.
The first people invited to the birth of Jesus was his parents. Go figure.
In the lead up to the first Christmas, the parents of Jesus would have been extremely excited and anxious. No other mother has a claim to fame quite like bearing the Son of God. And the build-up to this birth is still totally unrivalled.
Because this wasn’t your classic 9 month pregnancy. The arrival of some angels went a long way to confirming this wasn’t your average baby. Mary and Joseph would have been very aware of prophecies made about this baby centuries in advance.
The world had been expecting this champion for hundreds of years.
So this was a huge calling. I can’t overstate the level of crazy this job description requires. But what is even crazier is that there was nothing particularly special about Mary and Joseph. They were just a poor couple from a dodgy town.
And yet, God promised Mary and Joseph that by accepting Jesus in humility and with joy, they would be used in an extremely powerful way for the Kingdom of God.
And they stepped out in faith.
God called shepherds on the fringes of society, to the Good Shepherd who calls all people back to the centrepiece of civilisation
Back in the day, shepherds were pretty low on the social ladder.
In fact they probably didn’t even feature on the ladder. These guys often lived on their own, literally removed from society, as safety of the flock was at risk through the night.
So it is no surprise this is where history first records them. Tending to sheep and staying in the fields (Luke 2:8). A pretty boring arvo, until a host of angels show up announcing the birth of the Saviour of the world. Went from 0 to 100 real quick.
And the shepherds were initially terrified. I mean, put yourself in their shoes. I’d be shaking like a leaf. But after processing the news, the shepherds dropped their work and hurried into town to see this King.
Here’s the cool part. The wise men brought gifts to Jesus (Matthew 2:11). The shepherds didn’t bring anything. They just came as they were. Wearing stinky and torn clothes, unshaven and unqualified, no social standing whatsoever.
And yet, God promised the shepherds that by accepting the call with nothing to offer, everything would be offered to them in return. That from the fringes of society, they would be brought back to the centrepiece of civilisation.
And they stepped out in response to his call.
THE WISE MEN
God called wise men from a corrupt earthly king, to an eternal King who rules with justice and fairness.
History records these wise men as being royal astrologers.
There guys were an image of the smartest minds of the day. And not just your average astrologers, the royal astrologers. A good reference on your resume to say the least.
These men are best known for their pursuit of a star. Namely, Jesus. And it’s pretty crazy stuff. These men followed a star, a ball of gas millions of kilometres away in the universe, which according to their intellect was stooping over Jesus (Matthew 2:2).
All of creation bowing down to this Jesus. Not your average baby. Heck, not many can claim to using the universe as a sort of traffic light. Directing everyone to himself.
Equally important to note is that the wise men were from eastern lands (Matt 2:1). This is significant stuff. Because to this point in history, God’s people were almost exclusively citizens of Israel. And yet these wise men weren’t even from Israel.
They probably didn’t even know the language. But you see, God reached out to these men in a language they understood. He used their knowledge on the universe, the very line of their work, and brought them to Jesus.
He met them where they were. God promised the wise men that by seeking Jesus, they would see King Jesus.
Each of these VIP guests to Jesus proved one thing.
It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, smart or uneducated. Lonely or busy. Qualified or inadequate. From the king’s palace, a dodgy town, or not from any town at all.
God requires our response, not our resume.
The presence of Christ is revealed to those who step out in response to his call. This is the distinguishing feature of those called into the presence of Christ. Obedience rooted in faith. A response to the news of Christ, and the promise of serious hope and joy in him.
Who could pass that up?
We are all called into the very presence of God.
Practical application time.
To those who have accepted God’s call. Take a look at Mary and Joseph. Who despite being filled with absolute awe, still welcomed in the outcasts and the seekers. This season, look for ways to show the presence of Christ to those who need it.
To those too busy or smart for God. Take a look at the wise men. The royal astrologers, who despite having the mysteries of the universe to discover, still found time to seek the true King. This season, seek what Jesus really has to offer.
To those feeling removed from God and others. Take a look at the shepherds. The social outcasts, the lonely and weathered citizens of society, who were personally welcomed into God’s presence. This season, know that you are loved and welcomed by Jesus.
This is the awesome truth of Christmas. This is the awesome truth of Christianity. We are all called by the living God. Only one question remains:
But there’s seriously no competition in the race for best PM and government when Jesus is in the picture. And in the end, our vote doesn’t determine his rule and reign. This baby is happening.
The ball is in your court to decide whether you want to be part of His government. In Part 1 we discussed three reasons why Jesus is (by far) the best leader the world has and will ever see. So without further ado, here’s three more reasons in this – Part 2:
He provides the solution to the biggest problem facing humanity
Forget the economy. Forget jobs. Forget global warming. Forget social status.
The single biggest issue facing the world today is death. Nobody escapes it. Everyone plays to its tune. And so we dance our way around in life, looking for ways to prolong what is destined for the grave.
We avoid unhealthy habits. We keep our body and bank account healthy. We seek good times and happiness. We work, accumulate, consume, die. All for what?
It’s all pretty hopeless. And so surely any good leader cares enough to at least address the biggest issue we will ever face. And believe it or not, Jesus does.
But even more than that. What’s amazing is that Jesus had life at the centre of his teachings. He consistently and intentionally promises a cure. A way to the truth and fullness of life.
So don’t you ever tell me Jesus is not relevant because he lived 2000 odd years ago. But if you do, please explain how death doesn’t affect the world anymore.
This Jesus is extremely relevant.
Because Jesus didn’t just address the issue of death by illustrating what a painful death looks like. Jesus didn’t just acknowledge mankind’s biggest problem and then leave it hanging. He solved our greatest problem by leaving himself hanging.
His death wasn’t the end of the story. And that sets this leader apart from all others.
He fulfils all his promises.
Isn’t this something we lack in politics nowadays.
Politicians are increasingly being characterised by their inability to follow through on promises. Heck, there are even websites tracking the number of broken promises for each government. We expect the leaders of our nation to break definite promises.
Read that again. Let it sink in.
Jesus on the other hand has a perfect track record with promises. Completely contrary to the world’s leaders, when God makes a promise we expect it to happen. And it does.
That a nation would come from the line of Abraham? Tick (Genesis 17:2). That a nation stuck in slavery would be brought out of Egypt? Yep (Exodus 14-15). That a leader from the line of David would rule forever? You bet your bottom dollar (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 1:69).
And not just that. Ridiculous prophecies (God inspired predictions) were made 400-700 years B.C. to foreshadow this coming leader from the line of David.
And the chances of someone fulfilling all of them is astronomical.
The compelling nature of prophecies fulfilled by the person of Jesus, cannot be explained by way of pure chance.
Some smart people got together and did some cool maths stuff.
They found that the chances of winning the lottery are 1 in 259,000,000. So pretty crazy. But they found the chances of someone fulfilling just 8 (of the suggested 48) prophecies are way more ridiculous: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
But that isn’t all folks. The research team also estimated the chance of one man fulfilling all 48 prophecies: 1 in 10 to the power of 157. That’s a 1 followed by 157 zeroes.
That’s a lot of zeroes.
Jesus fulfilled all promises and prophecies. Forget Leicester City, The Chicago Cubs and the Western Bulldogs. Jesus literally embodies the biggest upset and logic defying performance of all time. A pretty darn big fluke.
Unless you believe in a God who fulfils all his promises. Then it just makes sense.
His rule and reign will never end
This is where we bring it all together.
Kingdom literally translated is King’s Dominion – just shortened. So because Jesus smashed sin and death to pieces, his dominion extends beyond death.
And this is perhaps one of the greatest promises made by God.
That through Jesus, we have access to God (Hebrews 10:20). He has made a way to life (John 14:6). And anyone who believes and places trust in our awesome candidate is welcome into His kingdom (John 3:16).
You’d be crazy to turn that offer down.
I love this quote.
I pray with this in mind most mornings. It is significant to me for a number of reasons. You see, from the hand of God everything was created. He crafted and chiseled out the universe and everything in it from nothing.
So this reminds me that God is totally in control of all things. And sometimes, when all is out of hand, that’s when I see his fingerprints the most.
But more than that. God’s hands signify our citizenship.
Because Jesus lives, his kingdom endures
Jesus handed us the hammer. And with the nail, we smashed the whole world’s sin and junk into the hand of God. And three days later, Jesus proved he had power over it.
The crazy irony. That the nails we drove in with intentions to stay the hand of God, would become the lasting blows of justice.
Talk about grace.
Jesus, by nature and profession a carpenter, gave amateurs the hammer to deliver the blows of a new covenant (Matt 26:28). To make something new of his body, the church.
And so we can approach God with full confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Knowing that our deepest scars of sin have been dealt with.
The hands of God cannot be held down. And neither can his Kingdom.
Look at all the bullet points again. Let’s recap the leader and government outlined.
A prime minister that rules with authority, justice and fairness. And yet, a leader that is down to earth and humble in every way. Fully understanding of the struggles and deepest sufferings of his people.
The biggest problem humanity faces he addresses and solves. All promises he makes are fulfilled. He ushers in a kingdom full of his people that humbly serve and care for one another. Everyone in his kingdom is included and important. And it starts from the top.
Now ask yourself: is this the sort of leadership and government I want out of office?
Jesus offers real hope, and real change for real life issues
That’s the sort of leader I want to follow. That’s the sort of people I want to be part of.
And if we believe Jesus is the top candidate, we naturally become his ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). God uses us to tell the world how awesome his government is.
We are called to contain, proclaim and live by the values of this kingdom (Hebrews 10:23). To let the activity of the King be evident in our lives (Phillipians 2:13). To give the world just a snippet of what is (and is) to come.
All the forces of hell will try to overthrow it. The world will experience great turmoil and tremendous upheaval. Heck, we might even face an election with shocking candidates.
But through it all, we are not shaken (Psalm 16:8). We have intense confidence in our leader who put the forces of death to shame. God’s kingdom will never end. All people are welcome.
Lies. Deception. Failure to follow through on definite promises. The same old slogans. Selling hope but delivering the opposite. Outdated leaders that don’t understand the people. ‘The better of two evils’ is often how we describe the candidates.
And us Aussies don’t like any of our leaders. We’ve had something ridiculous like 6 prime minsters in the last 7 years (a new record mind you). We just can’t make our minds up. Nobody truly leads with authority. Nobody really makes us want to follow them. The real issues aren’t being properly addressed.
Can I hear an amen?
We just want a fair shake of the sauce bottle. But there’s certainly an aspect where we have to just put up with it. Attempting to overthrow all of the world’s governments is not a good idea. I repeat: not a good idea.
We should consider our government and authority with respect, praying they rule justly. Yet, their rule is just temporary. No government is lasting, secure or faultless.
“The kingdom of heaven is near” – Jesus (Mark 1:15)
Except this one.
Here we have Jesus putting in his ballot paper. Publicly declaring to everyone his full confidence in this kingdom. The line has been drawn.
And even more than that, Jesus promises nothing in this world can rival this kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10-11). Not some cheap knock-off or temporary rule of a government with an average leader.
This is the real deal.
Now, we place a lot of different thoughts onto the word kingdom. Medieval stuff like castles, knights, and drawbridges with shark infested waters. But kingdom in its simplest form is just a shortened form of King’s Dominion.
The activity and reign of the King.
So when Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is near, it can actually be taken literally. Jesus was physically with the people. Therefore, the kingdom was literally near. So if we want to find out what this kingdom is all about, we should look to the activity of the king. We should look to the works and words of Jesus.
Let’s find out how worthy a candidate this Jesus is.
Each day looks very different for me. Take a few weeks ago as an example.
I (just) finished 3 assignments and sat an exam for university. That took up most of my week. But I also worked in a fruit stall at my local markets. I helped lead at youth group. I caught up with my church. I worked as a dishy in a restaurant. I went for a few bike rides. I went hiking with one mate, had coffee with another friend, and saw another mate in hospital.
But it’s so easy to forget God in the chaos. With so much going on, I regularly need to be reminded and encouraged of my purpose here on earth. Each day looks vastly different, but I need the same reminder each day to keep me on track.
And I use a rubber band on my wrist as this reminder.
Rubber bands hold and contain things. Often I find rubber bands lying at the foot of letterboxes. They are most often used to hold a bunch of letters, pamphlets or magazines together until they reach the destination (letterbox).
Breaking news, I know.
However, the rubber band has almost no value. Heck, a whole bag of these rubber bands only costs a couple of dollars. Once used, they’re discarded onto the ground. Most people walk past or on them without noticing. They’re pretty insignificant.
What makes the band significant is the message it helped deliver.
We as Christians are the rubber band. Like the rubber band, we hold and contain an awesome message to tell the world. We are called to share the awesome message of complete and utter forgiveness, unfailing love and ridiculous joy through Jesus. Eternity and perfect community with him and his people.
But like the rubber band, we aren’t very valuable in ourselves. Sure, you and I are OK at some things. But we aren’t hugely significant in the global context of things. In the history of the world, our lives aren’t exactly bookmarked.
However, we take on tremendous value because of the message we carry.
‘God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them…’ – 1 Corinthians 1:28
So when others point out our flaws and failings, we can confidently agree with them. In fact we can boast in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The creator of the universe chose us, insignificant and flawed, to contain and proclaim to the world his message of hope. His strength where we are weak – now that’s something to boast about.
“I did not come with eloquence or wisdom… I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” – Paul [1 Corinthians 2:1-3]
Paul understood being a rubber band well. He told everyone he wasn’t a crash-hot speaker. He let everyone know that he didn’t have amazing wisdom. In fact, he told the crowds that he was weak and scared.
Paul realised he wasn’t significant to the message he was giving.
All he really understood was that he had to deliver the message he possessed. Nothing would stop him. He understood the significance of what he contained, and despite knowing all his weaknesses and failings, put pride aside for its delivery. God worked through the flawed, weak, not particularly intelligent man that was Paul – and did amazing things through his life.
What a testimony.
Maybe we should take a leaf out of his booklet. Our identity with Christ and his message of hope is what gives our lives meaning beyond the grave. Nothing else. May we never lose sight of the significance to this message we contain.
I leave one challenge to all the rubber bands reading this:
Someone may have driven over our moral compass. If it isn’t broken – it is lost.
What is true integrity? How relevant is it in today’s society? What does it look like?
All important questions. Integrity is something I believe is so important, especially being a Christian, as Jesus had a lot to say and do about it. But more about him later.
“The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”
“The state of being whole and un-divided”
In the world today, as a general rule, I believe integrity is somewhat lost. This isn’t different to many other societies before us, however, is still an issue in my opinion. Australia has had something like four prime ministers in the last five years (don’t quote me on that). Failure to fulfil definite promises, although not a new concept, is something we expect in the leaders of our countries. Let that sink in. We are experiencing a drop in the length of marriages worldwide (not saying divorce isn’t necessary in some cases). Celebrities are commonly in the news for cheating on their spouses.
We find meaning in the number of likes on a post. Most of our opinions and views are based around popular opinion. We are told how we should look and act by the mass media. Our self-concept and identity is based on highly changeable things. Closer to home, I ask myself: Do I conform with society? Where does my motivation lie? I wouldn’t stack up too well in those areas.
Fickle: changing frequently, especially as regards one’s loyalties or affections.
We are a fickle society. We value good times, success and financial gain more than most forms of integrity. Myself included in that. We have become our own authorities. Our own ‘true north’.
But is this a bad thing? What is wrong with being in control of our own life? This is where we sift and sort some of the readers here. I believe it comes down to your belief, or lack of belief, in Jesus. Why is that? If what Jesus said and did is all true, we have something serious to consider. And I believe he backed up his claims pretty dang well. My next blog I may go through some of the most compelling evidence for Jesus being who he said he was. A great topic, but more on that another time.
Jesus came and completed the build-up to what is a world-wide revolution, but not the ‘throwing bottles, setting buildings on fire’ sort of revolution. As the picture above suggests, he came in love for his people. And we are to treat all people in the same way as Jesus does. To be the hands and feet of Jesus on earth. What a tall order.
Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways – Proverbs 28:6
In Hebrew, “integrity” in the Old Testament means “the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness.” In the New Testament it means “honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works.”
Jesus is the perfect example of integrity. Bar none. He came preaching counter-cultural messages to: love your enemies, be honest, to give more than you take, to pray for those who persecute you. And he didn’t just preach these things – he lived them out. He came to serve instead of be served. A true picture of humility and integrity. Never did he sway from his convictions, yet displayed commitment through compassion to all people.
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool – Isaiah 1:18
Important to remember that we are flawed humans. True, 100% integrity is impossible on our own (unless you are Jesus, then read above, if you skipped to the end). But Jesus says that through his actions on the cross, we are considered without blemish, perfect in his sight. If we choose to accept his offer, that is. We are called to live in light of the cross, living in repentance and relationship with the author and perfecter of our faith – Jesus.
I posted this on Instagram a while ago. I believe it serves good use as a picture of integrity – and how we are to live it.
There’s a reason integrity has the word ‘grit’ in it – it’s hard fought
I liken true integrity to this obstacle course. For those of you who don’t know it, it is a team-based obstacle course involving many different challenges. It includes going through tunnels, scaling walls, crawling through mud, etc. In the same way, as Christians we have a military inspired, intense test of our faith and character before us. It demands courage, perseverance, stamina and teamwork. It can’t be done alone. All are welcome to join the team and buckle in – it is set to be one heck of a ride.
To the people with no formed opinion on a God – I pray you investigate the claims of Jesus more. Really look into it. Because if it is truth, it is worth even our lives. We all have the choice to accept or reject Jesus. But that comes down to you. Always welcome to join the team.
Living with integrity to the people around us is a blessing. We have the chance to show just a snippet of God’s kingdom here on this earth. What a privilege, dare I say, responsibility we have. As Christians, we need to realise the commitment involved with our convictions, and allow confidence and compassion to flow from them. In the workplace, school or public arena – integrity as advocates of Christ is imperative.
“The Christian walk is something deeply personal, but so very public”
What a challenge. I find it confronting, such a big task to even consider, let alone live out. However, It is important for me to take a step back and consider where my moral compass points.