Friday, January 1, 2016

The Temple of Me !

Judges 17:6
In those days there was no King in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.

Sound familiar? It should. We don’t need to look far in the Western culture we live in order to see this growing mentality. The famous people we idolize live extravagant lives of self worship and their lifestyles are then envied by our youth and our adults alike. We can see them on just about any TV channel or the tabloid rack at the supermarket. They live lives most parents would never want for their children yet somehow it’s our own form of worship we give these people that has made them the wealthy Idols they are. We see them fly through relationships using people up, they build grandiose homes, drive cars worth six figures, and wear clothes worth more than most of us make in a month. We think they have it all the looks, the stuff, always the attractive person on their arm, and they look so happy when we see them, but are they? We now even have some preachers that have begun to warp the message of the Gospel to promise us the financial prosperity we see others enjoying telling us not only that it’s ok but that God wants to give it to us.

Our culture tells us that our own happiness should be our guide in life that we all get to create and follow our own truth. Our culture preaches that we are all just a highly evolved intelligent form of animal that is the result of chemistry and chance. So why not live only for the material possessions we can gather and the pleasures we can enjoy? If this philosophy is true and right shouldn’t we see the fruit of this in our society? Shouldn’t we easily see a culture of very healthy, happy, and peace filled people?

In Greek mythology, the son of the river god Cephissus was a character named Narcissus. The myth tells us that Narcissus was a very good looking man that became so mesmerized by his own image in the water of a spring he remained there until he died.

An article in Psychology Today tells us that a study conducted thirty years ago found 30 percent of American youth to be narcissistic and they say that number has doubled since then. Connected to a narcissistic personality they also found empathy to have decreased by forty percent. Our main stream music today glorifies anger, revenge, and resentment. It tells us to exalt ourselves over others and to seek money, power, and sex. This article says the words “us” and “we” are disappearing from the lyrics of our mainstream music and being replaced by the words “I” and “me.”
Our most popular video games are the ones full of mass murder and lawlessness. Our action movies depict individualistic heroes motivated by revenge and adhering to no set of underlying morals, we often see them use the very same tactics and behaviors seen used by the “the bad guy.”
Even most of our dramatic movies are centered on the main character finding happiness for themselves, most times a relationship, job, or attaining a goal that benefits them and allows them to finally be satisfied.
  The article points to the self-esteem movement as a contributor to this spreading sickness in our population. Many parents are so concerned that their children feel good about themselves it results in an attitude of personal exceptionalism and an actual decline in real self-esteem in the child. The article states the massive decline and turning away from things like mutual respect, compassion, tolerance, and selflessness toward a narcissistic attitude of indifference, egotism, and individualism is creating a gradual tear in our society.

2Timothy 3:24
For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

(Judges 17:6) The verse we are focused on today is found in the story of Micah. We find that Micah has created for himself Idols that he can worship at home in his own way. He then sets himself up two priests that he himself pays and that live there with him in his home; one is his own son, the other a Levite traveler. Micah and his Mother wanted to worship but only in their own way. They had no interest in seeking the Lords guidance for them; they created for themselves a false God. The priests served the purpose of making them feel comfortable in their disobedience. Next we see the Danites come and plunder Micah’s home taking his Idol and ephod. We then, not surprisingly, see the Levite Priest become enticed with the Danites offer of serving their clan in Israel and helped them carry off the plunder.

Our current culture tells us to “follow your instincts!” “Do what’s right for you.” “Do what makes you happy.” And my favorite “Follow your heart!”
 When we get engaged we are asked if our significant other “makes us happy.” When we get a job people ask if “we like it.” It’s as if the highest authority we could use as a guide for our lives is us and our fickle feelings and pleasures. Is it any wonder we are a people heavily medicated for things like depression and anxiety? We think we are responsible for everything!
Is it no wonder we are a people of ever changing relationships, jobs, and homes?

 Most social media is all based on us and we love it! “The selfie” has become a household term. We love to take and post pictures of ourselves, our cars, our motorcycles, our clothes, and sometimes even our dinner.
We buy and own more clothes and cars than ever before in history. The fastest growing form of relationship has no covenant and produces an ever growing rate of fatherless children. Our country has the highest incarceration rate of any other country on the Planet. I would easily say that ninety-nine percent of those people incarcerated were guided by their own pleasures and interests in some way shape or form. These are the fruits of a society based on self worship! We are a society staring in the mirror, we are sick, and we are dying.

We have been deceived by the father of lies. Turn on your radio, flip on the TV, or talk to people of our culture and you will hear his sermon being preached. We are captured by it, mesmerized by it, why? Because it tells us everything we want to hear! It’s all about you! You don’t like your job? Quit! Your spouse not keeping you as happy as they used to? Leave!
People are streaming to mega-churches that only preach grace and forgiveness for their listeners. They spend little or no time on the consequences of the many forms of sin or how to turn from it. They speak of Jesus as if he were a personal coach that is going to help you attain “your goals.” We have set up a priest inside our home to tell us what we want to hear.

There is Good News! We need only open our Bibles to hear the Lord speak into our lives. If we honestly seek he will shine the light of truth into our hearts and we will see how insignificant and lacking these things we’ve been focused on are, that includes us. Abiding in him we will recognize the beautiful lies and snares of the evil one and with the power of the one true God avoid being seduced by his sweet sermons. We can walk away from our reflection and break the spell of self-centeredness. The lies we are being told have been the same since the first one told in the Garden, they are ancient deceptions but they still work if we aren’t abiding in him. Grace and forgiveness are real attributes of God but that’s not all, we need to read his word to be sure we are not being seduced by those same old lies.

Jesus certainly didn’t die on the cross so that we could feel good about worshiping our stuff and ourselves. He came down off his throne of perfection in Heaven into our filthy sinful mess so that we may know true happiness, contentment, joy, and fulfillment that can only be found in him. He doesn’t offer us physical wealth but a wealth that cannot be bought with dollars, a peace that defies all human understanding and a love that has no limits. We are chasing empty trinkets and fast fleeting pleasures when he offers a treasure worth so much more. But he doesn’t tell us it’s going to be easy, he tells us we must deny ourselves, be willing to lose our lives and pick up our cross and follow him Matthew 16:24-36. He tells us that if we love anyone our parents, our spouses, even our children more than him we are not worthy of him Matthew 10:37.  He tells us if you love me you’ll obey me John 14:23
Jesus is saying we need to forget about our stuff or the seeking of it and be willing to throw it all away. He is saying we need to forget about ourselves and our plans. He is even saying his will should be greater than the interests of your own family.
No one likes to hear this and Jesus ran people away by telling them this but he knew by being our very maker that we could never have true life guided by our own fickle sense of happiness. We can do nothing without him! John 15:5

What does this mean for us who are trying to follow him? It means our relationship with him should be our most valuable and treasured possession. His love and fellowship should be the single most important thing in our lives, above any other relationship. If he is in his proper position in our lives, not only will we have contentment but we will have true life and real fulfillment. That is something other people and things cant give us, and it certainly isn’t something we will find in the mirror. There are going to be a lot of times that his will is leading us somewhere we do not want to go, somewhere that we think we can’t be happy but he is more concerned with our maturity than our happiness, he is concerned with our readiness for his Kingdom not whether we are totally content with our job or not. 

Satan wants us to focus on ourselves, he wants us staring in the mirror and running from one useless thing to the next like nervous sheep without a Shepard attempting to lead ourselves, when really he the father of lies has become our Shepard. We find our happiness in Jesus, we find our direction and guidance in Jesus, and we find true life living in a relationship with him. Contrary to popular opinion there are no gray areas in the Bible, Jesus himself said it in many ways but he is always clear that there are but two paths to walk, he is the way, lets take it.