By Not Known
A friend was so excited that he kept telling everyone he met after a church service, how inspiring, how full of zing and how ‘anointed’ the sermon was. His jaw however dropped and was at a loss for words when a fellow congregant asked him what had he learnt from the sermon.
A similar mindset was reflected during the recent financial crisis when many (allegedly) succumbed to sweet sales talk and lost their life savings in exchange for some shares of a world-renowned investment bank. How symptomatic is this of our world that is increasingly paying more attention to packaging rather than actual content.
Yet this mindset is not new as the morning reading from 1 Sam 16 reminds us. Samuel was perhaps seeing shadows of Saul when he decided presumptuously that Eliab must be God’s choice to be the next king of Israel. As histoy shows us, human beings seldom learn from its lessons and God sometimes has to intervene in order to prevent human folly as he did so here in verse 7.
However, this mindset to pay more attention to the exterior rather than the internal is in itself a symptom of a deeper human malady called sin. Sin basically is our tendency to do things our own way (and the way of the world) rather than God’s way. It manifests itself in us looking at things from a worldly perspective rather than God’s as seen in our evening reading (Lk 22:24-26). It also manifests itself when we bring into the church the world’s way of doing things and looking at things, rather than God’s.
How do we get out of this predicament, especially when it is so much a part of our old nature! Our Lord has shown us the way when he made up his mind to let God’s way take precedence over the way of the world. However, it was not without a struggle even for one who knew no sin. Indeed, we were told that he was so agonised in his prayer that his sweat became like great drops of blood as they fall down onto the ground (Lk 22:41-44).
It will be to our detriment if we do not heed Jesus’ injunction to pray so that we may ‘not enter into temptation’ (Lk 22:40, 46 cf. 11:4b). We have more than Jesus’ model of laying our predicament before a listening father as we make up our minds to follow God’s way rather than our own way of the world. We have a great high priest in Jesus who has been tempted in every way just as we are and yet never succumbing to temptation (Heb 4: 15-16) and what more, he is now interceding for us at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Rom 8:34). So let us allow God’s word to help us discern his way from ours (2 Tim 3:16-17) and commit ourselves to live according to his way and not ours.