Last week we looked at how what we do in our bodies affects our souls, too; that we cannot do one thing and expect it not to have consequences on the other. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, where God has chosen to dwell and be present.
Today, we’re looking at how our concern for God is a driving, purpose–giving way of life and how our concern for things unrelated to God weigh us down and keep us from living faithfully.
Does Paul mean all these things?
Paul uses some strong words here in our text and the first thing that may come to our minds is, “Why would Paul tell the married to live as if they’re not; for the mourning to stop their grief; for the happy to put it aside; and for those who buy to see little value in what they’ve bought?”
It is confusing on one level, that discipleship here would be almost like pretending things were not as they really are. So, does Paul really mean all these things?! Yes and no. If we put it into context, we see that Paul is trying to save us from the over-valuation of things that bring little eternal benefit. He wants us to focus on the eternal, the people, places and things that Jesus said moth and rust wouldn’t harm. But why worry about eternity now? Because eternity has already begun for those who are being saved through faith in Jesus. The Eternal God is living and working in the lives of those who have welcomed Him into their hearts. If we are to take the greatest advantage of the relationship God is providing, it means full participation in what God is doing, both in the world and in our own personal lives. It means that we are to be focused and faithful about living out God’s will here and now. This is an eternal reality with an eternal purpose.
One of my study Bible’s commentary put it this way, “Christians should prioritize their human relationships, material possessions, and worldly dealings accordingly.” I started to see it this way: the problem, ultimately, is a wrong relationship with our hobbies, habits, and happenings.
At times, our hobbies become our greatest willful obstacle to a growing faith. We engage in them and choose them over the opportunities we have to know God more deeply. We lean on them instead of God for strength or enjoyment, when in fact there is much strength and joy to be had through worship and service to God. Our habits… are sometimes good and sometimes bad. Sometimes they consist of our routines that attempt to excuse us from the responsibilities of our faith, while other times they are the addictions that steal away the seeds and growth of faith in our lives. The case of the latter, we cannot help but give ourselves to them because the habits have entangled us. Our happenings…are our events and schedules that are too precious to give up. We involve ourselves and our families in endless activities and make almost no time for worship, growth, and service.
All of our hobbies, habits, and happenings have the potential to serve God, but will we put God first and put God above them? My challenge to you is to see how these things are either strengthened because of God being put first or see how they become much less important because of the realization that they have very little benefit after all when compared to a relationship with Christ.
What can you do to be more free to serve Christ?
And so, what can we do to be more free to serve Christ? The key is to make God a priority. To get involved with a ministry or study; to engage the leadership of the church with ideas for outreach and service; to hear the Spirit calling and recognize that you aren’t too old or too young to love on our community. Each of us have things in our lives that can be moved around, pushed back, dropped for a while, in order to experience God more fully and finally grow into the person of faith that we’ve wanted to be. To be more free to serve Christ, through, we must put less emphasis on the worldly things and more emphasis on the heavenly. For the heavenly things God desires to bring down to us, here and now, for the world to experience for their salvation and their growth.
How can we free others from unnecessary concerns so that they can grow in Christ?
And lastly, we can free others from unnecessary concerns by showing them how they can grow through Christ. By living out our discipleship well, we show others first hand how to focus on God and how to experience a life of faith that will bring eternity into a falling and failing world. People could grow in ways they never knew if they would break the bonds of their hobbies, habits, and happenings with faith in Christ. God is calling those around us to see what happens when we say yes to God at work, yes to God at school, yes to God in our families. If we will say yes to God in all we do then our unnecessary concerns will be changed into necessary focuses, things that really matter, on an eternal level.
I want to close with Paul’s words, “For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern.” When you leave here today, consider where you stand with God. Are you free from the concerns of this world or are you chained down to the many things that ultimately matter very little when compared to God? What can you free yourself of in order to give God that space? How can you help others be less concerned with the cares of this world? Go in peace and minister in peace. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.