Picture This

Neil Girrard
Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
Psa. 106:15 π Prov. 15:17 π Mt. 16:25-27 π Mt. 24:12 π Lk. 6:20 π Jn. 10:1 π Jn. 10:7-8 π Jn. 10:10 π 1 Cor. 13:3 π 1 Tim. 1:5 π Heb. 5:9 π Jas. 2:5

Picture a world where no one loves you – a world where no one wants to take the time to know what your problems are, let alone help you find ways to solve and overcome them. Doctors, therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists – supposedly trained and practiced in the arts of caring and healing – are all and each paid a king’s ransom to “professionally” address any problems we might have that keep us from fitting into “society” but our need for friends and family who simply love us on our deepest levels of existence remains unsatisfied.

Instead of all this depth of care, communication and connection, we are given and pressed toward entertainments and diversions that are designed to keep us from experiencing and analyzing the deep emptiness and longing we feel throughout the deep recesses of our being. Sporting events, TV, movies, careers, “church,” etc. are the new “opiates of the masses” that keep us from learning to deeply interact with others and address the real issues of real life.

Almost everyone who lives in an affluent culture like ours will have no trouble whatsoever picturing this world. This is the usual, average existence in an affluent society. Many, because they suffer under the delusions they have accumulated to themselves so that they might better adjust to this sick condition, will deny that this is their reality! Denial does not change reality, however.

Jesus said, “Because lawlessness will abound…:” ( Mt. 24:12; top ) Though this prophecy has been obscured by poor translations, the word “lawlessness” (Greek, “anomia”) is simply an absence of any outside, objective standard or source for conduct and behavior. Put simply, it is to do what is right in one’s own eyes. For centuries the word was rendered “iniquity” and the English reader was left with the impression that the end times would be most characterized by rampant evil in the form of crimes, violence, etc. But this is not what Jesus prophesied. He said that the propensity to decide one’s actions on the basis of what each individual thought was right would abound. As a result, “…the love of many will grow cold.” This Scripture is being fulfilled precisely in our time.

The average human existence – especially in an affluent culture – is one of self-centeredness. One’s priorities is one’s pleasures and distractions and, should real life deprivation or tragedy somehow dare to intrude, unless it directly impacts me, then it simply isn’t my problem and is of no interest to me - after all, I did not cause it and my private life never touches anyone else! Human suffering, to one who has successfully enmeshed himself in his own cocoon, is not even a mere curiosity any more – it is a nuisance to be disdained and avoided. One who has seen, experienced or even read of the greatness to which humans can attain could be excused for succumbing to despair over the usual, average human condition so prevalent in an affluent culture. God has indeed given the willing participants of these cultures the objects of their desires but along with them He has given them “leanness (frailty, emptiness) of soul.” (see Psa. 106:15; top )

Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” ( Jn. 10:10 ) The thief, in this illustration, is anyone who comes into interaction with followers of Christ without himself having entered into abundant, eternal life through the Person of Christ Jesus. ( Jn. 10:1 , 7-8; top ) Life – in stark contrast to this living death of empty, meaningless, self-focused affluence – is the meat and drink of Christ’s kingdom.

Jesus also said, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” ( Lk. 6:20 ) Though affluent teachers, covetous of more wealth, have exploited many with their prosperity “gospel,” it still remains true that “God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him.” ( Jas. 2:5 ) It still remains true that “Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” ( Prov. 15:17; top ) The self-focused affluent hoarder might offer you a steak dinner but he has no love to give you – he’s too busy counting up how many pennies the steaks have cost him. He has no life within him to draw upon by which he might see his own spiritual and moral bankruptcy because he zealously courts and pursues more wealth rather than seeking the deeper wealth of eternal abundant life in Christ. A better picture of a living hell is difficult for a person who has tasted of the heavenly righteous living way is difficult to imagine.

Though this picture of human existence, in varying degrees of extremity, is extremely prevalent in our time, we must neither become like this nor believe this is the only manner in which humans can exist and interact with one another. Life without wealth and affluence is often a far richer experience than is the surrounding of oneself with all the toys, comforts and trappings of this world which perish with the using of them. Jesus said, “Whosoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses His life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angel, and then He will reward each according to his works.” ( Mt. 16:25-27; top )

The one who hoards all his resources to himself will find it all to be sand that has slipped through his fingers. Not only will he have nothing of eternal value to display on judgment day, he will find his squandering of his resources upon himself to be the most damning instances of selfish neglect and abuse of others – and it will be far too late to do anything about it.

Make no mistake – the wealthy man cannot buy eternal life with his wealth or by suddenly doing good deeds for others. “Even though I give all my goods to feed the poor but I have not love, it profits me nothing.” ( 1 Cor. 13:3 - emphasis added) Eternal life can only be gained by obediently surrendering to the King, Christ Jesus, and obeying Him. Jesus is the author of eternal salvation only to those who obey Him. ( Heb. 5:9 ) The main focal point of the gospel of Christ – which has largely gotten lost in this age of hypocritical affluent churchianity – is to produce “love flowing from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from a sincere faith.” ( 1 Tim. 1:5 - Beck) Though modern “church” is little more than a frivolous, light and fluffy religious social club, the living way of following Christ has always been all about the deepest issues of life.

Picture a world where other people love you – a world where others are willing to invest their time to know what your problems are and are willing to stand by you and help you find ways, not to subsist one more meaningless day in your bleak environment, but to truly overcome your life’s difficulties. These people aren’t simple “do-gooders” out to meddle in your life – they genuinely and deeply care about you because their Creator personally loves and cares for them. These are not charging any fees for their care and are more likely to delve into their own resources rather than seek anything from yours. In this setting where these people quietly, simply and completely love one another, our deepest levels of need for love, communication and connection are answered.

This is not to say that such a loving environment will produce some sort of utopian paradise. Rather it is to say it will produce a strong community of strong individuals dedicated to the ennobling notions of serving God and one another. It will lift its participants out of self-centered isolation and self-imposed standards of living that are in reality harmful to themselves and to those others whom their isolation and standards causes them to neglect and ignore. It will bring together an arsenal sufficient to overcome an individual’s problems so that soon that individual’s strengths and giftings are yet another weapon in the arsenal so that even more people can be cared for and nurtured into a healthy ability to stand – whether alone against all odds or in a group of caring, loving individuals.

This is the true and risen Christ and this is what He is about – anything else is mere deception. Let he who has ears here.

I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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