by Jeremy Spingath[vimeo width=”550″ height=”450″]http://vimeo.com/21740134[/vimeo]
Passersby on the streets of Denver, CO were asked what they value most in life. Check it out. Their comments were interesting, and most definitely caught the author off guard by some of their answers.
(Note: Jeremy Spingath is the son-in-law of BFI missionaries to Japan Nils & Andrea Olson. He lives with his wife, Caroline (Olson) and son, Gideon, in Denver, CO. The following is the message Jeremy recently shared with the church he and his family attend in Denver.)
What is this world coming to?
Suppose Average Joe flipped on the tube in 1969 to watch the news; you would bet he would have said the classic and overused saying, “What is this world coming to?” as he read about protests, riots, war, etc. A few years before that as Hitler blitzkrieged his way through Europe and Africa I’m sure Average Joe Sr. muttered the same phrase as he picked up the morning news. Even earlier still, during the time of Moses, Ancient Average Joe upon reading the daily tablet which described first born sons dropping dead, frogs invading the land, and a bearded dude parting a huge sea said in his own Egyptian way, “What is this world coming to?”
I’m a fan of the truth. I try and speak it exclusively even when it makes me look like a buffoon. I’m not perfect, and don’t always get things right – but I value truth. This also is what drives me to pay attention to current events and some news sources with all that is going on in the world between riots, protests, national debts, and the myriad of other idiocies simultaneously occurring. I find myself shaking my head and muttering under my breath, “What is this world coming to?” Then I remember Average Joe’s ancestors throughout history saying that very thing, and yet the world has not ended.
Just as I begin to wish I lived in a “better” time in history I have a thought: what if I was made for living in this exact time and place in history?
Ok, so how do we right the wrongs in this world? It’s pretty simple, really.
The Problem: Morality has been replaced with idiocy.
Poverty, divorce, abortions, war, consumerism & materialism, greed, selfishness, apathy, the lack of any semblance of moral values… the list can go on, but these are some of the problems we see happening in the world.
The Answer: The Meaning of Life.
We all know what the problem is, but we all argue as to how to fix it. You might be surprised to hear the answer is simple; and it has been the same simple answer throughout history.
Now, before I continue, I want to tell you this is a spoiler alert. If you were waiting to ask God in person what the meaning of life is, then stop right here and go watch an episode of Arrested Development on Hulu. Otherwise, continue.
The answer to the problem is . . . wait for it . . .
The only value we need is what Jesus said – the greatest commandment is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Mark 12:30). That’s it! That’s the answer to every single problem in the world. Adam and Eve were put on this earth to walk with God and so were we. As humans, we were designed to worship; and if we don’t worship God, then it means we are worshipping something that ought not to be worshipped. Do you think the problem of greed is because people worship money or status or power? Do you think abortions are largely due to our worshipping ourselves? I find it telling that just under 98% of all abortions in the US are due to the baby being inconvenient (reasons vary but less than 2% are due to rape or incest).
Atheism doesn’t exist. If we don’t worship God, we are worshipping something else – and the moral depravity in this world displays this plainly.
Our focus, our mind, our energy, should be set on seeking God first, and then our needs beyond that will be taken care of (Matthew 6:33). As we focus on doing our part to love God more, than everything else we do will be affected by this. You see, love changes hearts. And as you love the Creator more, your values start to line up with God’s values – like love, generosity, freedom, truth, integrity, hard-work, and so on. You also begin to love your neighbor more; and the more you focus on God, the more naturally these values get expressed through you.
Imagine a more generous society which takes care of the poor and needy around them. Imagine a society that loved freedom and truth that we wouldn’t need much of a government because we could govern ourselves. It’s possible.
The Church is God’s Answer
First: If you happen to have beef with the Church, please realize this: humans are imperfect and will always fail you. This includes pastors, church leaders, parents, teachers, presidents, and even (or especially) Average Joe next door. The quicker you realize this, the quicker we can get past whatever negative stigma you have against the Church and embrace the fact that God has designed us to be a community – to be a body with many moving parts that work together. You’ll realize that our trust and hope aren’t in men, but in the Creator of the Universe (I’ll take that pedigree any day).
Second: The Church is not an obnoxiously large building down the street or even a quaint brick building with a pretty steeple. The Church is every Christian in this world (the “Body of Christ,” if you will). Of course, congregations in church buildings that meet together are important and are in ways the “Body of Christ” as well. They share in community and worship together, and I believe each congregation has a mandate to impact the community in different ways depending on the context they are in. Church buildings do not exist for the sake of existing, but exist for the community they are in.
Third: It’s not the government’s job to take care of the poor, feed us, or even give us iPods (contrary to what an Illinois Congressman has claimed – seriously). The government is horribly inefficient and corrupt to do these tasks with any real effectiveness; and I believe that much power given to any one institution is a dangerous proposition. It is our personal responsibility to work hard and rely on God as our provider (remember Matthew 6:33 – all our needs will be met). And if someone falls on hard times, it’s the Church’s job to step in. When a young girl gets pregnant and decides to keep the baby, does the Church shun her? Hell no! We walk next to her and show her love and are there to help her. The amazing thing is this; when love is shown to someone who desperately needs it, a heart change occurs. Have you ever been shown unconditional love by somebody? I have – and it made me want to be more like that person.
This is what walking with God should look like — people wanting to become as loving and gracious and generous as He is.
Love is contagious. Seek Him and you will find Him, and know that as you do, your heart will change to be more like His.
A church that loves God will love His people… and the disappointing, “what-is-the-world-coming-to” shortcomings of this world? They will be sucker-punched in the breadbasket. That’s right, breadbasket.
I know we can never be as generous or loving as God, but I think I’ll give it a whirl anyhow, it might be worthwhile adventure.