C.S. Lewis said, “He who has God and everything else has no more than he who has God only.” That means that people who follow Jesus Christ as their Lord would take companionship with Him over anything God has to offer or anything God has created. There is a need for denial of a personal desire to be master, actually following Jesus Christ and not just acknowledging that He exists. The problem is people are settling for far less than the best God has for them. These things only prove to provide counterfeit feelings of joy that in the end provide no joy at all.
Christianity often gets misrepresented as a religion of works, whereas people need to earn their way into the group. People get caught up in simply going to church or doing certain nice things, with that being the foundation for their faith. Jesus Christ was not interested in a bunch of surface, works driven people. The Pharisees were people who understood the rules well, but failed when it came to authentic faith. Jesus challenged this mindset, indicating His interest was in seeing people follow Him as the most important element of their lives. People need to stop trying to do enough for God and instead decide to truly follow Jesus Christ. Obeying the Word of God is where this starts, as people respond to His call on them. Many people get caught up in having the knowledge about God without actually knowing Him. Being an intellectual person does not make one a follower of Jesus Christ. Also, it is important to realize that life is not some random event, but a reflection of the glory of God. Humanity is thereby created to reflect God’s glory and be a place where God can dispel his grace. There is a purpose to life and the actions that are taken today do both show what is important and what is shaping the person. Every action taken moves a person down a certain path toward a destination.
Of course, there are a lot of distractions. It is a challenge to live in the world as a follower of Christ. In youth ministry, I spend a lot of time ministering to teenagers who have professed to be followers of Jesus Christ, but have wavered in their faith. The reasons are as varied as the people, but often it comes down to an appeal to something that they know to be counter God’s way, but that they go ahead and take part in anyway. I pray to God that Christian teenagers would stand up for what they believe in and desire to reach their friends out of darkness and into light. But, so often the Christian students are getting worn down and devoured by the world because they are afraid of not fitting in or missing out on some life experience they feel they need. What makes these stories even worse is that the pain they experience as a result of their choices can be avoided by following God’s way. The appeal for compromise starts in some small area, which leads to a bigger area, which leads to a disconnection between them and the church, and ultimately to poor choices and increased pain. This cycle is not a healthy one, but it is one so many find themselves in.
“The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.” Proverbs 11:5
This week there was a college shooting in California. I don’t know about you, but I am finding school shootings to be increasingly irritating. Irritating because of the seeming lack of respect for the life of another person and irritating because someone has lost hope and resorted to a method of dealing with their pain that only makes things worse. It is a tough world we live in and many are carrying some deep pain, but when does hope seem so far gone that they only answer is to kill other people? God has provided a better way. It is The Way we are focused on this week leading up to Easter. Jesus Christ is the answer to the issues of the world. He is the only person in whom life is found and in whom real lasting joy is found. He is the One who teaches us to say “No” to certain things and live godly lives today.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say, “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:11-12
We see that in Jesus Christ this is possible, but we need to actually obey Him. This is what compels me to minister to teenagers and their families. The only way people will ever find hope is not in their friends and their popularity, but in the person of Jesus Christ. It is Him who died a death we all deserved in order to give us life and direct us in a path that would not lead to our harm, but to our eternal life.
Is there ambivalence to actually committing to living godly, self-controlled lives today? What can we do as followers of Jesus Christ to encourage each other to make godly choices today? For the sake of our children, let’s set a godly standard with the choices we make. You just never know who might be watching.
* The C.S. Lewis Quote is from the book The Weight of Glory.