Saturday, September 30, 2023

Look Away From Yourself.         06-23-23

My thoughts of late have focused on a note to myself that I wrote in my Bible.lThe note was written in the 6 th chapter of Matthew and stated simply that I should  “look away from myself.” I do not remember the time or the occasion that sparked that note. That said,that note has much relevance to the Christian walk.

In my early Christian upbringing, I heard many sermons that spoke to this concept, especially from the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 6:31-33

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

However, over time these words about seeking the Kingdom of God took on a different perspective,that with the luxury of hindsight, we’re not the intent of the original. The message devolved into seek the kingdom of Ronnie. Not that the descent was that obvious or blunt. It never is. Sin has a pervasiveness that is supremely subtle. You hardly notice until one day you are in it’s clutches. Feelin’ me here?

Was this slide a blatant appeal to unbridled materialism? I don’t think so.I followed the precepts of God. But, the message became less and less about God. The message became about establishing the Kingdom of God and enjoying the blessings of that Kingdom. Serve God not because He IS God. No, serve Him for the blessings He bestows. This subtlety  

planted the seed for the message of a great majority of the church today, especially the mega church movement.

The command of Jesus was not to establish the Kingdom was it? Rather, it was about preaching the Gospel. I remember the early days of my Christian walk.Preaching the Gospel,telling someone about Jesus was the ONLY message. To preach the Gospel, to evangelize the lost world, “ to preach the Gospel to every creature,” was the focus. Jesus said that when He returned, then He would establish His kingdom.  Somehow, the church now believes that it has been tasked with establishing that kingdom.”Kingdom Now” as it is teaches. I was taught a form of that message coming up. It was a message that in my opinion focused more,though not exclusively, on the blessings rather than the righteousness of God.

Over time the focus on blessing led to a self centeredness,resulting in materialism and a pursuit of a “ victorious life.” If I serve God, my life will be victorious. I will have a wholeness with God meeting all my needs. That is the message of Kingdom Now.

Almost always that leads to a self centered, man centered view of what it means to serve God. The concepts of sacrifice and service to others get lost in the shuffle. Don’t get me wrong. No one twisted my arm. I willingly followed that line.

It no longer in my life was “ Give us this day our daily bread.” It was about meeting the mortgage and the car payments.Without even recognizing the change, well to be honest I was not concerned about the change. Smile. When the focus is always on self, whether in blessing or problems, the slide is almost imperceptible. Hence, the call to “ look away from me” becomes offensive, even noxious. It is the first step to debauchery. Pride in one’s self and life is the mother of all sin. It leads to self centeredness,and if not checked, to self exaltation. At which time, God will put a stop to it. In His own time and way. The clarion call to me and indeed all people is to look away from ourselves and seek God and His righteousness. That plays out differently in all of our lives doesn’t it? Well anyway that’s my take today.

All we must do is believe.

God Bless.

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