Commonsense Christianity

The things that matter, the things that make us brim over with laughter and joy, are ultimately NOT money, power, fame, and name. Brimming Over, original painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

It is a driving factor of human existence that we crave being loved and valued.

We’ve got one shot through this life, and within the years we have been given, we ache to know that our lives have meaning — to the people around us, and to God.

Some people fulfill this need by building kingdoms on earth for themselves — money, power, fame, and name justify their lives, and whether or not they use these princely gifts is of no import. They are worthwhile, they reason, because They Are. If you put that last part into singular construction, it would say, I AM.

Many Christians, while they recognize that God’s standards are different from man’s, strive to live a dual existence that is dangerously entwined. It looks like this:

“I am a child of God, made in His image, and what I do in His name is important because I am doing it for Him.”

This sentence is right, by the way, and if we stopped here, we’d be just fine. Only we generally don’t stop here. We add,

“The way I know that I am doing God’s will, and justifying my existence, is by the blessings God bestows on me for my obedience. These blessings are money, power, fame, and name.”

New Cars, Big Home, and an 80-inch TV Screen

While they don’t necessarily strive for Oprah-hood, too many Christians rest satisfied that God approves of them because they have a well paying job, a nice home, two new cars, a decent bank account, the ability to send their children to a proper accredited Christian school, and membership at a large, community-approved church.

God’s blessings are tangible, they reason, and those who are struggling, do so because of 1) bad luck, 2) lack of faith, or 3) the lamentable misfortune of being born on the continent of Africa. (One of the most unfortunate aspects I could see about being born is Africa is having to endure endless groups of short-term missions from people convinced that, as an entire continent, the residents do not have enough faith to deserve God’s blessings of three-car garages and motor homes.)

Material Security Does Not Equate to Eternal Life

Some Christians, however — who stand outside the world of material security — perhaps they are enduring long term unemployment, suffering from chronic health problems, dealing with constant physical pain or mental anguish, undergoing agonizing family issues, or even just being aware of an overwhelming sense of their finite, limited ordinariness and general unimportance in the world of men, are dissatisfied with their existence and the difference they make in the world around them, and they cry out to God,

It’s not the size of your home that matters; it’s the interaction you have with the people who live in it. Sophie and Rose, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.,

“I feel so worthless, somehow. If I were truly important to You, if I mattered the way I so long to matter to You, then why am I such a nothing in the world of men?”

That’s a cry deep from the gut, from a child of the King who flounders, frustrated, in the worldly life of a peasant. Deceived by the latent, deep-seated belief that lack of money, power, fame, name and 15 minutes of viral time on YouTube or Facebook is indication of ultimate failure on their part, ordinary Christians judge their value by Man’s standards, twisted with God’s.

Do We Really BELIEVE What We Read in the Bible?

(Interestingly, many people blessed with money, power, fame and name actually do very little with what they’ve been given, proportionally. Jesus noted this in Mark 12: 41-42 when he observed the rich people giving into the temple treasury, and the poor widow who “put in two very small coppery coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.

” . . . Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.'”)

We’re all familiar with this story — but like much of what we read in the Bible, do we really, truly, actively BELIEVE it? Or, more likely, do we long to believe it? Deep down, we are frustrated with the system under which we live, one that judges us, always, on external factors.

God doesn’t play that game.

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches,” God says in Jeremiah 9:23-24, “ but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”

Kindness. Justice. Righteousness. When is the last time we’ve asked God for any of these?

This Is What I Do

Thank you for joining me at Commonsense Christianity. For now, and for as long God wishes me to do so, this is one of the things I do — I write about living as a real Christian in the 21st century, and I encourage those of you who love and follow God to get close to Him and come to awareness of just how very, very precious you are.

THAT’s the message we are to pass on to others, but if we don’t understand it ourselves, what do we say?

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