If you read enough blogs and devotionals, you’ll come across advice about clearing out the bad influences or time wasters from your life, including people. If someone is draining your energy, discouraging you or pulling you down in any way, the recommendation is to get them out of your life. I’ve always wondered about this, because I do know some people who are difficult to be with (see my post on sandpaper people), but it doesn’t seem like the Christian thing to do.
Jesus spent time with the outcasts, those on the fringe of society, the sinners, the lepers and the demon possessed. I don’t remember him advising his followers to stay away from them. Rather than try to get them out of his life, he went out of his way to establish relationships with them, to heal them and even love them.
Colossians 3 tells us everyone is defined by Christ and everyone is included in Christ (verse 11, MSG). If I’m living my life as if Jesus were living it, rather than ditching difficult people, I need to figure out a way to connect with and love them, sandpaper and all.
In this time of situational ethics and variable facts, you’ll hear people talk about their truth. This is my truth, or that is your truth. Apparently, it changes from person to person and with circumstances. Your truth is different from my truth and that’s just fine. We all have our own truth.
Is this true? At the end of Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus in John 18, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” It seems no one knows, even today. And a lot of folks don’t let the facts get in the way. If you believe in your own truth, maybe you are fooling yourself. Most will say they mean they have their own story and experiences but talking about their own truth seems indicative of how much our society has strayed from the absolutes of God.
Jesus called himself the way, the life and the truth (John 14:16). He is the only one who could talk about his truth and be telling the truth. Jesus is the only real truth, the truth that leads to eternal life.
You may have heard of FOMO. When I first saw this acronym, I had no idea what it meant. Urbandictionary.com defines it as “a state of mental or emotional strain caused by the fear of missing out;” also, “a form of social anxiety ̶ a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity or satisfying event, often aroused by posts seen on social media websites.”
I like to think I’m impervious to this phenomenon. For the most part I am, due to my increased awareness of minimalism and simplifying my life. Every once in a while I’m tempted to succumb to the voices telling me I need a new product or experience so my life will be meaningful and I won’t be the only one to miss out, but then I remind myself I am being pushed to “need” these things. Social media and advertisers do this to us all the time and it’s up to us to tune them out.
A better voice to tune into is that of the Holy Spirit, who tells us to be content with what we have: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met” (Matthew 6:33, The Message). Through Timothy, the Spirit tells us to pray for our leaders so we may live quiet, peaceful lives (1 Timothy 2:2). We don’t need to, and shouldn’t, fear missing out on anything this world has to offer. We have everything we need in Jesus.
As part of decluttering and simplifying my life, I’ve given away a lot of clothes, so many that I had empty drawers in my dresser and now have a lot of breathing room in my closet. Having less makes it easier to find something to wear, but I still have trouble deciding. I wish I had it as easy as my husband, who wears black polo shirts most of the time. Maybe I should try that.
Regardless of what’s in my closet, I always know what to wear on the inside. Romans 13:14, in almost every translation available, says to put on Jesus. Paul expands this in Colossians 3:12 and 14 when he writes to the church there to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, and over all of these, to put on love (NIV). Love is “your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it” (MSG).
It would be nice if this were as easy as grabbing compassion out of a dresser drawer, pulling kindness from a shelf or taking patience off a hanger and then just putting all of them on. Ultimately, God is the one who dresses us in these attributes, but he doesn’t dress us the way we would dress a toddler. I’m pretty sure he expects us to cooperate with the Spirit by practicing the spiritual disciplines. We need to go to the closet (Bible study), open the drawers of the dresser (pray), search the shelves (meditate on God’s word) and then hold out our arms to let him dress us with his gifts.
I came across this video on Facebook and it’s so good, I thought you might want to see it. It’s part of an interview with theologian Gary Deddo, “On Second Chances, Missions and Evangelism.”
Dr. Deddo’s basic aphorism in this video is to never think or preach about a God who is limited in the ways that we are. We have many limitations, but God isn’t like us. He is Lord of time and space and his grace is everywhere.
He talks about the motivation for evangelism: not fear, guilt and anxiety, but faith, hope and love.