The New Normal, Part IV
How often have you asked a young person, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a great question that, often yields even better answers, especially with as honest as children often are. But it also begs the follow-up question: What is your Christian ambition? Everybody is ambitious to be or to do something, and often from our early years. When we were young, we wanted to be a… cowboy, astronaut, or ballerina maybe? As adults, we have our stereotypical ambitions too— to be wealthy, famous, or maybe powerful? But, ultimately, there are only two real possible different ambitions for human beings; and Jesus pointed them out. A secular person or a Christian one, a material or a spiritual ambition, treasures on earth or treasures in heaven. But beneath and beyond all these, there is a contrast more fundamental still. In the end, there are only two kinds of piety; self-centered and God-centered. So there can only be two kinds of ambitions as well, we can pursue ambitions for ourselves or for God. There is no other alternative.
For far too many of us, death is finality. So why not just eat, drink, and be merry? Well, as Dale Evans said, “I spent most of my life searching for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Then I finally found it at the foot of the cross.” Quite a few were there physically and watched Jesus die; then, three days later, Jesus rose again and history was never the same. A new normal had come over all of this world.
Scripture: Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)
[This is Jesus speaking] “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? "So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
We are worried about our future. But the words of God in Matthew tell us to put our worries aside and trust God for a future, even past death. Like part of a magician’s act, it is so difficult to release one’s self from a tomb after being buried “alive” – but try doing it after being buried dead! That was the challenge facing Jesus as they laid his lifeless body in the tomb. Yet he rose from the grave without the aid of sleight of hand, an extrication team, or paramedics. Despite the increased (or really, impossible!) difficulty, Jesus accomplished what no one, not even Houdini, could—the resurrection from death to life! What a new normal that is!
How would you describe the difference between agreeing with Jesus and doing what Jesus said? What does that look like in your life? If it is true that whatever you fill your bucket with you will become, then what would you most like to fill your bucket with? Is there anything you need to take out of your bucket in order to make more room to live the life God has for you? If so, how will you start to do this? When?
God give us the courage to not just to hear and agree with you, but actually go out and do what you call us to. Father, we ask that you fill our bucket of ambitions with the right things, and that you would fill our life with your plans for us. We do not want worry to be a part of our everyday life, we want your peace in this time of turmoil. We long to be back together in your house of worship. Today, give us peace so that we can glorify you by the way we live for you. We pray in the name of Jesus, our risen savior. Amen.