Difficult Times

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We appear to be up to our hip pockets in difficult times.  Sickness and  death surround us.  Economic disaster seems to be lurking just around the next bend.  Civil disruption is giving way to civil disorder.  The institutions on which our society has been built seem to be crumbling at a rapid pace.  Society has failed segments of the population disproportionately, and all of us to at least a significant degree.
How do we live before our God in times such as these?

First, don’t get sucked into seeking only political solutions.  Jesus stated that His followers were not of this world, and therefore would not seek to intervene in His death.  If Jesus did not want us intervening politically in the biggest political and judicial outrage of all history,  should we not approach the difficulties of today in the same way?

It is not that these difficulties today are not important.  Indeed, they are momentous.  Nor is it that helping people is unimportant.  It is vitally important.  What is important is that we focus on helping in ways that truly address the deepest needs of our
society and all people in it.
“Love not the world or the things of the world,” the apostle John wrote.  He went on to state “We are the children of God, but the whole world lies under the power of the evil one.”  The point is that the political systems of this world are exactly that – “of this world.”  We who are now outsiders in this world cannot fix the evil within a system controlled by evil, using that evil system’s evil approaches.
I have been reading a number of self-identifying “Christian” bloggers recently whose focus is on proclaiming political solutions to what are clearly spiritual problems.  These were all across the political spectrum, from left to right, from west to east.  What society needs, people of all races, cultures, and economic conditions need are deeply spiritual solutions.
So then what are we to do?
Love your God with all of your being.  This is the answer that has always been true for true followers of our God.    Love Him until we ache for His will to be done.  Empty yourself of all self-motivation and self-promotion.  Grow a deep fixation on your God above all else.
Draw near to your God every day.  Remember that He desires to have communion with us daily, in much the same way Christ desired to share the final meal with His team in the upper room on the night of His arrest.  If we are not actively pursuing such a daily, intimate, life-altering communion with our Savior, we are missing the point of our existence and our redemption.
Walk by the Spirit’s guidance and not by human strategies or imaginings.  Pray without ceasing.  Give yourself fully to Him in a sacrificial, selfless, total fixation upon your Savior, and love everyone including those not like you.  Focus on faith, obedience, communion with your God.  Invest heavily in fellowship with other saints and in prayer. Try to keep listening for the voice of the Spirit.  Turn off the radio and TV for extended periods, and speak to your God.  Love one another.
What about helping others in these difficult times?  It is easier than you might think.
Ask your God to direct you in serving the people He points out to you.  The way of Jesus is to love the lost with no agenda other than love.  It is to take note of their needs and move to meet those needs only in love, with no thought of return or expectation of response.  That is the model Jesus used, and the early church followed.  They took over the Mediterranean Basin and much of the world by using it.
Love people until they ask you why.  Be spontaneous and Spirit-led in your approach to people. Allow yourself to be inconvenienced in helping others.  Empty yourself in meeting the real needs of others, especially the poor, the underprivileged, the ones not like yourself.
Walk across the room.  Meet people where they, like Jesus and the apostles did.  Seek out people who are not like yourself, and do so not for your own agenda or purposes.  Do not serve people only so they will show up at your events.  That would be dishonest. Get to know others.  Listen to their story and their true needs.  Do not be patronizing.  Seek them only because they are truly valuable to you.
If they are not truly valuable to you, stay home and pray for a revitalizing of your love and the defeat of your selfishness.  When that prayer is answered, get out and get to work.  Reach out in ways that meet people at their point of need, not your own.
Go where the hurting are.  Reach out to them in genuine love, not to convince or convert them.  People will clearly see your agenda, and any self-serving motives will scream loudly to those in need. Reach across lines of color, culture, and condition to people not like you and serve them genuinely and according to their needs.
Be interested in all people for they are deserving your love.  Our God pours out His love on those who reject Him just as He does on those who follow Him.  He continues to do so even though many will never come to repentance.  We look like Jesus when we do that.  We look like cheap salespeople when we reach out only to convince them of something.
These practices are “the big deal” of the true faith.  Don’t miss the big deal.  We are the only “Jesus” people will see in this world, and we have not looked much like Him for a very long time.  We can begin to love all people by the power of His Spirit poured out in us as we fully submit to Him and love like He loves.

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