The Illusion of Success, Part II

The other subgroup of Christians is also selling their soul.  They are Christians in name and far be it from me to judge and determine who claims to be a Christian but is not.  Their souls, however, are being sold to the wrong god.  Their sale is not to the one true God, it is many different gods.  It might be the god of fame.  It might be the god of fortune.  It might be the god of power.  It might even be the god of ministry.  The difference between the two groups is the legacy they leave behind.  It is a simple biblical principal—what you sow you also reap.  (Galations 6.7.)  It is impossible to sow in the flesh and reap in the spirit.  (Galations 6.7.)  It is impossible to sow to the world and receive heaven.  It is impossible to sow to hedonism and reap selfless concern for others.  It is impossible to sow to greed and reap compassion for the poor.  On the other hand, it is impossible to sow in the spirit and reap in the flesh.  It is impossible to sow to heaven and receive the world.  Remember, Satan promised the world to Jesus. (See Matthew 4.)  Also remember that Jesus refused the world—not because He already owned it but because He knew that heaven is more valuable that the world.  It is all a matter of perspective.  When we see this world the way God sees the world we will no longer be transformed by the allures of the world.  When we truly get a vision of heaven we will learn to work everyday to bring heaven to earth until that time when we are brought to heaven.

 

I do not know whether Rudyard Kipling understood this principle.  But I do know that his poetry was inspired as if he understood the heavenly kingdom of our Father.  No where is that more evident than in his verse “If.”  It deserves looking at in its entirety here:

 

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream, and not dreams your master;

If you can think, and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph or disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools;


Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone;

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the will which says to them:

“Hold on.”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings, nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Your is the Earth and Everything that’s in it,

And, which is more, you’ll be a Man, my son!

 

I am not going to argue the theological implications of everything that is said here.  If you are looking at it that closely, then you are missing the point.  Here is a man that understands the fleeting reality we live in and the eternal value of living your life according to the standards that God has established.  There is only one way to live life and that is the way of “If.”  As King Solomon said, all else is vanity.  (Ecclesiastes 2.11.)  There is nothing outside the eternal standards of God.  Everything and anything else we do that does not bear the imprint of eternity on it is an exercise in futility.  It is wood, hay, and stubble.  It will be burned up when we stand before God and give account for how we spent the talents He gave to each of us.  (Matthew 25.15.)  We must come to see that those talents are the most valuable gift given unto man outside the Son of God, Jesus.  What are you doing with your talents?

Unfortunately, it is no longer enough to ask what you are doing with your talents.  We must look deeper than the surface of each of our works.  We must look into the motivation for our good works.  That does not necessarily mean that if we are not properly motivated in our works that they are wasted.  Recently a young man in my neighborhood announced that he was going to pursue his Jewish roots rather than his Christian roots, he is the product of a Jewish/Catholic marriage of which neither parent is particularly pious.  My first reaction was to pity this man who was not heading toward the ultimate truth.  Judaism, if we truly believe the Gospel message, cannot benefit a man, at the end of his days he will die and go to hell.  I know this is offensive to man, but it is the unchangeable nature of Christianity.  Then it occurred to me, here is a boy who, without religion of some sort, might not live to be an adult.  If I truly believe that death is the end of a man’s opportunity to reach out to God through Jesus then I must be happy for anything that keeps a man alive longer when he does not the saving grace of Jesus Christ. That helped me to realize that even Judaism, incapable of bringing salvation to the lost, was better than death, it will calm this young man down and expose him to teaching about the one true God.  Thus, though it will not save his soul, it will preserve his soul so that God can become a reality to him.  Therefore, his decision, though not a great one, is better than completely turning his back on God and going his own way with no concern for the God of the universe.

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C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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