The polarization of today’s American politics is a microcosm of our culture. We are becoming more and more divided. You see it expressed in an argumentative spirit, grumbling and complaining. It doesn’t matter what side of the political aisle people are on. In the name of free speech there is a number of people who are disrespectful and mean, not just to the political figure but to their friends who disagree with them.
The bad news, this is the way of the world. The Bible calls it a “warped and crooked generation.” As the culture moves farther and farther from God, we see a growing argumentative spirit (see Philippians 2:14-15).
The good news, God has a solution. He has put His light in the hearts of His people and He has sent us to “shine like stars” (see Philippians 2:15-16). The key for shining like a star is to “hold firmly to the word of life.”
Simply put the word of life is the word of God, or God’s words to us. Jesus said at the end of His most famous sermon, The Sermon on the Mount, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man” (see Matthew 7:24).
I like to call this Responsive Obedience. Responsive obedience is hearing from God and doing what He says. Another way to put is is to see where God is already at work and join Him in it. If you put John 3:16 and 20:21 together, it reads something like this: For God so loved the world He sent His one and only Son…As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you!”
Responsive obedience is not an adherence to a buch of religious rules. Nor is it blindly following a list of do’s and don’ts. Responsive obedience is being engaged in a healthy relationship with God through Jesus so that you can see Him at work in the world and you are willingly available to join Him to complete His work.
In John 4:1-26, we find the foundation of this concept. Jesus and His disciples came to a town in Samaria after a long day’s journey. Jesus desiring to avoid the crowd sent the disciples into town for food. While they were gone Jesus had a very productive conversation with a woman who came to the well to draw water. As she was leaving, the disciples returned with His food. Instead of being tired and hungry, Jesus was energized. Listen to their conversation recorded in John 4:31-34,
“Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.‘”
Responsive obedience is a key part of the joy filled life. As we have studied Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we have seen two major themes: relationships and fulfilling our calling. It is all tied to the idea that we need to live in the tension of love and truth.
Jesus said that joining God in His work is food. The Old Testament says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Responsive obedience produces joy in our lives and it is the joy that shines brightly. Paul teaches us that it is God who is at work in us and through us to complete His work in the world (see Philippians 2:12-13).
To summarize, the world is increasingly drifting into chaos resulting in people being robbed of their joy and succumbing to an argumentative spirit. God is at work to invite people back into peace. To accomplish this He has put His light into the hearts of His people. The truth shines brightly as we live out His joy by joining Him to complete His mission.
Let me give you some practical application on how you can live in responsive obedience:
- Attend to your relationship with God. If you do not have a healthy relationship with God through Jesus, you have to start here. Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected to satisfy our sin debt to God and God’s love debt to us. If you need assistance in choosing to follow Jesus, please contact me. If you already have a relationship, it is always good to do a reset. Seek Him and His grace in your life.
- Ask God to show you where He is at work in your world. Being alert and available to join God by praying everyday a simple prayer like: “Father, show me where you are working today and give me the strength and courage to join You!”
- Act on what you see God doing. Depending on what you see God doing you may need to do one or a combination of the following:
- Serve someone – This past week a friend of mine told me the story of how he gave a homeless man a packet his children’s Bible class put together.
- Share a meal with them – Maybe it is a co-worker and you can invite them to lunch or a neighbor and you can invite them over to supper with your family.
- Say a prayer with them – my friend discovered the homeless man was an agnostic when he offered to pray with him. The man said he didn’t want to be rude. But my friend said, “I am going to pray for you. And I want you to know that God hears my prayers. Will you be open to seeing God answer them in your life? He wants a relationship with you.” The man said he would!
GO SHINE LIKE STARS!