A prominent marketing research company recently released a report containing comments on the anxiety that people are feeling about improving their lives, their inability to “live in the moment” and the future in general. In the after-effects of 9/11 and the increasingly bad economy, it’s no surprise that people are suffering from anxiety and obsession regarding the future. Choices are being made, or not made, out of defensiveness, paranoia and fear. This is a particularly American response (with a tangled web of horrible consequences as depicted in Michael Moore’s latest documentary, Bowling for Columbine). Worry about the future makes living in the moment seem frivolous and irresponsible.
What’s missing is hope. And specifically, hope in God’s truth and promises. Trusting God to fill you with joy and peace so that you may overflow with hope (Romans 15:13) circumvents the need for past/present/future viewpoints, concerns or "life plans.”
As Christians in times like this, we have huge opportunities to offer the kind of hope written about in Romans 15. I interpret Psalm 46 ("Be still, and know that I am God …") as a firm statement of confidence and hope, something to rally around rather than permission to literally "be still."
Spurgeon said, "What a satisfaction will it be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord!"
Right now, how we live our lives as Christians and how we make use of our God-given talents becomes critical. Question and make necessary and even painful changes in all areas of our lives—jobs, relationships, lifestyles, involvement in politics/social causes, etc. In areas where we are not actively seeking to glorify God for whatever reason, we are not allowing Him to fill us with the kind of hope that will overflow and encourage others.
When secular society, the comforts of materialism, the government, etc. seem to be failing and people are grasping, sometimes desperately, we should be ready to live our lives in ways that redefine success—not through personal ambition but through passion for truth and beauty.
A few questions come to mind that might help push us to engage beyond our comfort zone:
· Do we risk offering opposing points of view in secular environments (our jobs, casual conversations with non-believers/people of different faiths, etc.)?
· When we see something wrong, do we speak up and get involved or do we remain silent?
· Are we seeking out and acting upon opportunities to be like Jesus, even in the smallest ways?
· Do our actions identify us as Christians in all areas of our lives?
· Are we spending too much time staying in our comfort zone rather than to others who may benefit greatly from what we can offer?
· Are we being critical of the behavior of others rather than risking a discussion/confrontation that may actually change the behavior, or better yet, the person?
If we look for and take the opportunity (and some might even say heed the responsibility) on a daily basis, in every area of our lives, I think personal feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction and longing for material success will become non-existent.
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