BEEN feeling a bit weighed down lately? I have. Make no mistake, I have plenty of reasons to be thankful and joyful. But still, sometimes I get overwhelmed and worn out.
The world has been sick for some time now. The virus of malaise continues to circulate everywhere. How do we find balance these days? Where is our strength and our truth?
Everything of value requires tremendous effort. Family, education, work, building communities — none of this comes easy. Your life testimony is a struggle. Staying faithful and solid today is tougher than ever. Many end up just looking out for themselves. Others get absorbed in ideological battles. Meanwhile, their neighbor hungers and thirsts.
The funny thing about extremists on either side is that they need each other. They need a demon to frighten us and consolidate their power. Meanwhile, the rest of us do our best to live a good life. And by that I mean, living well and doing good.
When Jesus walked the earth, the Roman Empire brutally repressed the lands they occupied. Crucifixion was used thousands of times as a visible show of state power. But Jesus didn’t take a political or religious stance. Instead, he proclaimed the Kingdom of Heaven. And for that reason, the political and religious powers of his day put him to death.
In Book of 1 Samuel, the Israelites insisted that they wanted a king. They put all their trust in human effort alone. But as history has shown us, over and over again, this is never enough. So as I feel weighed down by the suffering and conflict I see in this world, I reach out to the Lord.
What I need is a close God — not a god-concept, lifestyle, or ideology. Those won’t work for me. A good cause may give me some meaning. A god that is far out there, impersonal, may help me in some ways. But in the end, a good cause can’t save my soul. And I can’t be friends with the universe. A true friend must be a person. The universe doesn’t care if you are friends with it. Stars implode and take out entire solar systems without a second thought.
An impersonal god is easy. That kind of god asks nothing of you. But the Lord our God asks much of us. Tell the truth. Forgive. Be kind. Be merciful. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy too. None of these are easy for me. Why? Because these things have tremendous value . And the Kingdom of Heaven is built upon these principles.
God’s Word explains things to help me understand. That’s what a friend would do.
So I must lean even deeper into my faith. I must seek him more than ever, even if I feel like I don’t have time. Even if the world tries to keep me from kneeling down in prayer, I must dig in and persevere. It is truly a spiritual combat.
Like the ancient Israelites, I am tempted to exclude God. But my heart knows. My soul knows. I need the Spirit now more than ever. And surprisingly, in my weariness, the Lord shows me my faith cannot be something vague. It’s not a set of rules or pure mysticism.
Instead, my faith is a person. My faith is Jesus Christ. He is my friend. He saved my soul. And the manifestation of that truth must be palpable.
It must be cemented in prayerful communion with the Father. It must transform into a genuine outflowing of love and compassion. It should be observable in real world results — visiting the lonely, sick, poor, or incarcerated; sharing money, resources, and knowledge so people can live in dignity; building strong communities that not only provide emotional support, but also work together to solve actual problems in terms of work, health, education, and opportunities.
This is the Kingdom of Heaven, and it flows out from the Body of Christ.
Yes, I must share the Good News that Jesus came to redeem us. He frees us from the wounds and condemnation of our sin. He offers us everlasting peace. But the Good News is also a roof over one’s head and a dignified existence. If I don’t work to provide that in some way, then it transforms the Gospel message into empty words. And yes, charity starts at home. But do I use this to justify my material comfort while others live in misery?
The Word of God became flesh. It must be real in our lives. So where is our emphasis? Self preservation? Fighting for a cause? Or will you get your hands dirty to help a person with their struggles?
Are we willing to take a risk of getting hurt and failing? Are we willing to go to the cross? If we are, then we will find the pearl of tremendous value. We will see the Kingdom of God.
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The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
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