The Hard Choices?

Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that God's Spirit lives in you?
If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him;
for God's temple is holy, which you are.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17, World English Bible

While reading an article from Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul, I was struck with the thought that Christian living has something in common with dealing with a serious illness. When people have suspicious physical symptoms, they often ignore them and let the problem grow instead of treating it. They fear the uncertainties of the treatment. They dread the sorrow for their family.

In the same way, people also ignore spiritual needs. We know we should find some way to fulfill those needs, but we fear the process. We fear humility and submission because they are traits that have picked up negative connotations. We are not certain that those around us would approve of overt spirituality; they may accuse us of being fanatic. So, rather than address our spiritual needs, we focus on earthly pastimes and goals.

What we forget is: dealing with a problem always makes a situation better in the end!

  • Young people who give in to peer pressure end up regretting it,
        but those who persevere in purity are rewarded with joy
  • Confession may bring painful memories and guilt to mind at first, 
        but it results in cleansing and freedom from the previous stress of that guilt
  • Approaching an estranged family member is often awkward, 
        but renewing a previously wonderful relationship that had gone sour
        brings a happiness now blessed with greater understanding
  • Acknowledging one’s weakness may seem demeaning,
        but actually, it’s the way to find the Spirit’s power in our lives.

When we look at spirituality through worldly eyes, we will always see reasons to avoid it. Because we realize that godly living is work, we tend to look for shortcuts. We must realize that greater rewards come from the efforts and trials; then we will be ready to follow the Lord’s guidance.

This is true for churches as well as individual Christians. Earthly goals, such as attendance numbers or conforming to other congregations’ expectations, can easily take the place of striving for a spiritual atmosphere. We allow this to happen because spirituality requires more effort and thoughtfulness than these worldly goals. We would rather that our congregational choices revolve around programs that can run on “automatic pilot” instead of involving ourselves in the pain of broken lives and the sacrificial love required to help them. (Remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees: they worried so much about physically measurable things that they would even measure out the ounces of herbs coming from their gardens for tithing. But they left undone “the weightier matters...judgment, mercy and faith”--Matthew 23:23.) These are natural, “everybody has them” desires. However, the Christian has been touched by the love from above that doesn’t allow him to be happy with natural, fleshly decisions.

We all feel the need to honor Christ in our lives by making the harder choices. Rather than suppress those urges, let’s support one another in the process of making those commitments. In so doing, we will build a congregation, a temple for God’s Spirit (1st Corinthians 3:16-17), that will truly live above worldly ways.
written
November 9, 2003

 

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