“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
“You can’t judge me!” may be one of the premier slogans of modern, western culture. A hundred years ago, what the people around you thought mattered a great deal. In many cultures around the world today this is still the case. An individual’s identity comes primarily from their social structure. In modern American culture, we are taught to place a high value on choosing a path that explicitly rejects and even makes a mockery of the social order in which we live. The bravest souls are the ones who take what’s expected of them and throw it in the trash to be “true to themselves” just like everybody else… Read the rest…
In this third part of our series, God Moved into the Neighborhood, we take a look at the fact that Jesus came to see us become our truest, God-created selves. In a world that encourages us to be true to ourselves, this advice only makes sense if we know to which self we are seeking to be true. Read (or listen) on to learn more…
Who Do You Want to Be?
If you spend much time listening closely to modern pop music you will quickly come to discover that one of the banner themes of this age is: Be True to Yourself. For example, singer Katy Perry has a song called “Firework” that was on Billboard’s Top 40 chart for almost a year including some time at the number 1 spot. At least part of the reason for this success, I would argue, is that the song taps into a longing in the human spirit to be more than we currently are. Now, I happen to think this is an entirely Biblical idea. We are called by guys like Paul and Peter and John to become fully reflective of the image of Christ which is far greater than any image we can produce on our own. Perry, however, isn’t thinking in these terms. Listen to some of the lyrics: “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in? . . . Do you know that there’s still a chance for you ‘cause there’s a spark in you? You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. . . .You don’t have to feel like a waste of space. You’re original, cannot be replaced. If you only knew what the future holds. After a hurricane comes a rainbow. Maybe the reason why all the doors are closed [is] so you could open one that leads you to the perfect road.” Read the rest…
“I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The piece of advice which perhaps best captures the spirit of our age is this: Follow your heart. We are told over and over today to do this. We see it on kids’ shows of every kind. We see it in movies and in books and in magazines. We hear it in popular music. It is everywhere we look.
In most cases, it sounds like great advice too. If you aren’t sure about the path you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to go, just look inside and choose the route that best resonates with who you know you are. Follow your heart. After all, who knows the shape of your desires better than you do? Who is more suited to see them come to reality than you are?
Yet the tough truth is that this is awful advice. It’s terrible. It will lead us to nowhere but heartache and hardship. The Scriptures tell us why again and again. On our own, we don’t know the best way to go. There is a way that seems right to people, but it’s end is death. Or, as Jeremiah puts it here, the way of man is not in himself. It is not in us to direct our steps. If we try, we only set ourselves up for trouble.
Better is to trust in the ways of the Lord. Let Him be the one who guides your steps. Let His ways be the ones you follow most closely. Let His Word be the path to which you commit your feet. His way won’t always be the easiest, but it will always be the right way.
When Lisa and I lived in Colorado, we had the opportunity to drive to the top of Pike’s Peak several times. It was unfailingly a stunningly beautiful drive. But, the path to the top of the mountain was 19 miles of weaving back and forth, tight turns, and switchbacks. It took upwards of two hours to get to the top. When you looked at a map of the route it seemed crazy to weave all over the mountain in order to get there. Why not just drive straight to the top? Or, when coming down, why not just head off the side and roll? Because that path would have been impossible. It may have been shorter in theory, but in actuality the pitfalls and cliffs along the way would have wound up taking several times longer…if you were even able to navigate it.
If we take a path other than the path of God, if won’t get us where we want to go. If we look inside for our direction and drive, we will find only a stalled engine and an unreliable map. There are two paths you can take from here to there: God’s path or all the others. Take the one that will get you where you really want to go.