DID YOU KNOW THAT EACH DAY YOU ARE EITHER MOVING AWAY FROM YOUR ETERNAL INVESTMENT OR MOVING TOWARD IT?
- Christ does not inhabit buildings or a certain atmosphere; in fact, the very heavens cannot contain Him. Rather, He is manifested through our obedient, sanctified bodies-His temples (David Wilkerson).
- Everything has changed except our way of thinking (Albert Einstein)
- Truth without relationship leads to rejection; Rules without relationship leads to rebellion; Discipline without relationship leads to anger and bitterness (Josh McDowell).
- You must decide if you are going to rob the world or bless it with the rich, valuable, potent, untapped resources locked away within you (Myles Munroe)
TEXT: Matthew 6:21; Luke 12:34 ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ .
The thought of change of year is exciting and causes some anxiety as to the attitude to adopt for the ‘new beginning’. New Year should not be just a change of the clock or calendar, but renewal of the mind. The real concern should be the ‘renewed’ mind. While changing the calendar gives new images, dates and a feeling of difference, how does one know that the mind is renewed? The mind which is about the mental processes, thought and consciousness is defined as the set of faculties responsible for mental experiences and trends. Think of Jim Harries generalized comment that African people and Western people all want to prosper. Westerners see material means, while Africans see relational means to this desired prosperity. Does it make a difference that one is a Christian as he/she aspires for prosperity? It is a fact that one cannot step into the future while still in the past, the attachment of meaning to the present occurrences picks from history. It is the knowledge that people have that gives them the content of their dreams and mental orientation on which their actions are based. What people perceive and resolve to pursue as their dreams could be taking them further away from investment that has eternal value. Jesus Christ said new wine deserves new skins (Luke 5:36 -39)
A New Year is new if there is an attempt to rethink how the past has shaped what is valued and treasured. Value is that experience or fruit which one gets in the path of achieving what one longs for. Awareness of that active purpose that one keeps in the fore of the mind and always remains before one’s path of achievement is what determines one’s investment.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HISTORY, TREASURE AND THE KINGDOM
The mental position provides the view from which life is viewed– The vantage point from which one looks at life is greatly influenced by the shared beliefs that are consciously and unconsciously communicated. It is like water to a fish. “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish.” Water is the sum and substance of the world in which the fish is immersed. The fish may not reflect on its own environment until suddenly it is thrust onto dry land where it struggles for life. Then it realizes that water provided its sustenance. In the same way, the society in which one is nurtured determines what is considered valuable and necessary for success in this life. Whether the success in what is valued in the culture is the same as the kingdom of God success should be of great concern to anyone who longs for the reign of God on earth. It is poor investment to allow advertisers to own your desires, and by extension, your soul. If someone else profits off of your desires (or the desires they put in you), then you’re in trouble. You want to better yourself? Go for a run.
History offers ways to live that are consistent with reality – Comprehensive understanding of the relationship of all areas of life and thought matters. Dependence on external power that arises from how well one fits into the already designed systems can deny one the opportunity to know what the concept of the grace of God is about. The layering of power positions that result from one’s effort can form a mental block that hinders one from cultivating the relationship with God that provides a different type of power. Without an inner deliberate and conscious shift or awakening that enables one to distinguish between the kingdom of this world and the kingdom that Jesus Christ talks about, then the concept of treasure will be as defined by the systems in which one lives. It is in understanding what Jesus Christ meant by “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17), that one gets the capacity to reflect, learn about interlinking of being in the world but not of the world (John 17:16). Repeated exposure to the thinking and value system that Christ did not teach locates one in what becomes one’s source of information. The starting point of a New Year should be the thinking that brings a person into the presence of God. The central affirmation of Scripture is not only that there is a God but that God has acted and spoken in history. God is Lord and King over this world, ruling all things for His own glory, displaying His perfections in all that He does in order that human beings can see their greatest hope in His Sovereignty. It is the coherent way of seeing life and the world distinct from materialistic pursuits that distinguishes Christian thinking from the world.
Examine the habitual way of knowing, saying, and doing- Downloading knowledge gathered and accumulated in history inclines one to live according to the standards of this life (Romans 12:1). In the New Year, treasure and investment is deeply related to what one feels and knows as a moment of insight, inspiration and power in a certain moment. There is a need to inculcate a deeper way of listening that allows one to gain awareness of identity. ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). That knowledge should loosen one’s desire for confirmation and affirmation that one is in control. To be a new creation is to let go of one’s perceived power and praying, ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law’ Psalm 119:18); ‘ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people’ (Ephesians 1:18). That is what leads to investment that enables one to participate in a larger field of change, praying, ‘May Thy kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. It is participating in the culture based on the convictions rooted in a dynamic relationship with Christ and his disciples. A person who has understood his location in Christ finds freedom from the never- ending quest of self-improvement, to being constrained by the love of Christ.
INVESTING IN THE KINGDOM
Understand the model you are using – There is a ‘seed sowing’ philosophy and working for the miracle and blessing that negates the concept of grace. The model of those who know what it is to be a new creation know ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2: 8-9). The improvement needed is to realize that if you have been saved by grace, you then remain a captive to the same grace.
Be devoted to the mission not just the method – Christ left His disciples to teach obedience to what He taught. At times the commitment to the denomination structure and its method is so inflexible that they are incapable of forging meaningful relationships that are founded on genuine love. ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another’ (John 13:35). Methods that manipulate and seek to gain control over others are investment in self and withdrawal from eternal investment.
The voice allowed to inform the mind – What is often listened to has a way of orienting the mind. Authoritarian approach of telling people what they should do is another way that disempowers Jesus’ disciples from experiencing the love, power and presence of the Living God. Any method that neutralizes the active power of God in the lives of believers is not only withdrawal from eternal investment but blocks others from that knowledge. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13). There is something being missed when those who are Jesus' disciples operate at a level of consciousness that prevents them from being producers to being consumers that are dependent on the mercy of others. Listening to the voice of the Lord is what every believer should do in order to be innovative around the mission that leads people into growing relationships with Christ in the changing times and world.
In the New Year, there is a need for radical rethinking that challenges the status quo and calls for deeper digging to the place where values are formed. Christians need to respond to the cause of the persistent blindness, deafness and lameness in our time while throughout history God has given intelligent solutions that address the issues their society is facing. The battle within each one of us should be encouraged so as to submit one’s fears, limitations, insecurities and demonic forces to the one ‘able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20). Persistent poverty, injustices, corruption, ignorance and misuse of God’s name are signs that there is work to be done. ‘Do not be afraid. 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord’ (Zechariah 8:15- 17). In the New Year there is relevance in shifting thinking from consumer Christianity that defines success as having one’s needs met where the goal is to win for one's own self or denomination or ethnic group or political leaning, without adequate concern for others. Jim Carrey famously said that he wishes everyone could get everything they want, all the money, everything…just to realize it won’t satisfy them. After all, were there people who were satisfied in life throughout history who didn’t have any personal vehicle or a title deed to a piece of land or property? Why, then, do you think you can’t be happy until you have things? An understanding of God’s point of view in regard to the place of the material wealth is important. ‘But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth’ (Deuteronomy 8:18a).
There is a need for a fundamental shift in our consciousness if we are to uproot and change how we think, learn and go about everyday business. That is what will enable the believer to deal with the assignment in a very uncertain world. There is a need to examine what is taken for granted. To follow clueless leaders/pastors because we have always done it this way is to lack to exemplify what it means to be made in the image of the Living God. Jesus did not leave his work with trend –setters; instead He left the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ came so that we might have life. He came to serve, not be served. Every decision, every activity should be an investment in what matters in the kingdom of God or a withdrawal. Unlike human relations who require more deposits than withdrawals to keep the account afloat, Jesus Christ has done all the depositing. ‘So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority’ (Colossians 2:10). Our part of the investment is to love, acknowledge that there is nothing we can do because Jesus has done it all. Any act that implies that one doubts God’s unconditional love is an investment away from what leads to a meaningful New Year. Moving toward your eternal investment is what the singer recognized ‘Not the labor of my hands, Can fulfill Thy law’s demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All could never sin erase, Thou must save, and save by grace . . . Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress, Helpless, look to Thee for grace: Foul, I to the fountain fly, Wash me, Savior, or I die’ (Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778). Though at times life may seem it will go on like it has for many years, at some point changes bring joy and celebration and at other times unwanted heartaches and loss. One thing that will never change is the faithful, loving presence of God whose provision of comfort, courage, and hope never ceases. In this New Year, are you using every opportunity to position God’s authority in your life?
‘If this New Year shall be full of unbelief, it will be sure to be dark and dreary. If it be baptized into faith, it will be saturated with benediction. If we will believe our God as he deserves to be believed, our way will run along the still waters, and our rest will be in green pastures. Trusting in the Lord, we shall be prepared for trials, and shall even welcome them as black ships laden with bright treasures’ (Charles Spurgeon)