Two nights ago, before I finished yesterdays’ proverbious, I came into the house and turned on the church channel. I don’t know if you have the church channel where you live, but we have it here. It’s a free, over-the-air, station that we get. Normally, they’re playing stuff I would never watch. I mean, how much hairspray can one person use. And what’s the deal with the thrones? Are they filled with Holy Spirit conductive material?
Anyway, I stopped on the channel because Andy Stanley was on and he was preaching at his dad’s church. As an Andy Stanley fan, that intrigued me. So, I listened, and it was actually quite good. It was a celebration of Charles’ birthday and Andy was commending his dad for a lot of the successes in his life. Anyway, in the sermon Andy made a statement that people of previous generations who went through wars grew up with a “You’re either for me or you’re against me” mentality.
I hadn’t thought much about it, but if you do (as I did), you can see the difference. Have you ever crossed someone from one of those previous generations? They aren’t likely to uncross. And today, most of the people in my generation have a much different take on life. It’s much more inclusive, far less intrusive. We don’t get in each others’ way and we don’t try to get people to come to our side. At least not for the most part. In fact, I would argue that we do that as a reaction to the for me or against me thinking of our predecessors. Yet, this nonconflictory way of living has also created a mindset of entitlement.
However, there is one crucial area where we may have lost our way. When it comes to following Christ and living the proverbious life, we can’t be inclusive. We can’t just choose to live unrighteous lives, do evil and delight in it and expect to reap the rewards. We think we can. In fact, many of us think we deserve it. We haven’t worked that hard in our lives for what we have. We’ve been given a lot, and it looks like we’re on a trend to receive more and more SWAG. So, we’re not used to the idea of having to really work for something.
But, if we want a reward that extends beyond this life, we must. If we’re content to reap these outwardly, subpar rewards, that will be the extent of our reaping.
I don’t want to harsh your vibe or whatever, but the truth remains. We must live our lives in such a way that the very doing of life is an act of worship and Christ-likeness. If that is not the goal, what awaits us is not a reward. Just listen to the passage.
12 to deliver you from the way of the wicked,
from those speaking perversity,
13 who leave the upright paths
to walk on the dark ways,
14 who delight in doing evil,
they rejoice in perverse evil;
15 whose paths are morally crooked,
and who are devious in their ways;
16 to deliver you from the adulteress,
from the sexually loose woman who speaks flattering words;
17 who leaves the husband from her younger days,
and forgets her marriage covenant made before God.
18 For her house sinks down to death,
and her paths lead to the place of the departed spirits.
19 None who go in to her will return,
nor will they reach the paths of life.
20 So you will walk in the way of good people,
and will keep on the paths of the righteous.
21 For the upright will reside in the land,
and those with integrity will remain in it,
22 but the wicked will be removed from the land,
and the treacherous will be torn away from it.
Sinks down to death. The place of departed spirits. None will return. Removed from the land. Torn away.
None of those sound like the happily ever after ending we may feel we’re entitled to. But life isn’t a fairy tale and heaven isn’t Disneyland. There are real consequences for our actions. In this life and the next. If we choose to seek after wisdom with all our being, and allow our lives to be filled to overflowing…If we get of the couch of our own lives and get into the game…If we walk and live upright lives, we will reside in the land and not be torn away from it.
The truth is, we’re either for living the proverbious life or against it. There is no middle ground. Don’t get me wrong, there is grace, and there is faith. But there are also works, sacrifice and selfless living. The Bible is not Build-aBear. We don’t get to pick and choose the parts we like, and come out with a fluffy animal to snuggle with at night. Faith without works is dead.
The proverbious life is not some sort of government handout we are entitled to. It is something we must work toward. But I have a feeling, the rewards will be worth it. Out of this world, you might say.