Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Bad Taste

I sucked my thumb. There, I said it. My deep, dark secret is now out. I loved that thumb. It gave me security and pleasure. But my mother had a different opinion. She knew that my thumb-sucking needed to stop. So, she put “Thum” on my thumb. Thum tasted bad. Really bad. It wasn’t poison, but it tasted like it. Every time that thumb went into my mouth, the bitter taste of Thum ruined the experience for me. The pleasure gone, I stopped sucking my thumb.

“Do not love the world, or anything in the world.” John, in his first epistle, gave us this command. We are not to love this world, or the things this world offers. Jesus said we could only have one master, and we must choose between God and Money. We are to love God with all our heart and not devote ourselves to the things of this world.

But, to be honest, I like this world. Sure, turmoil and evil abound; hardships come. But I have a wonderful family, a great job, a nice house; I have a great life. I have never had to miss a meal (it shows). I am healthy. For someone like me, like most Americans, it is hard not to love the world.

But then, trouble arises. Years ago I was going through some very dark times. I was discouraged, even depressed. Some Saturdays I would read the local paper trying to figure out what I could do to feed my family if I gave up this whole preaching gig. The world was much less appealing. The fun was gone.

It was during that time that I found myself longing for heaven. It is not that I was considering ending my life, but when all the joy was gone from this world I found myself longing to see Jesus and rest from my troubles. Scripture sets out so many purposes that suffering and hardships have in our lives. Could it be that suffering acts as God’s “Thum” to break us of our love of this world and the things that are in the world?

Romans 8:18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” The redeemed have a glorious future awaiting, so glorious that it makes the worst of our suffering seem inconsequential. It is when our suffering on earth magnifies that we begin to contemplate the glories that await us.

God gains no pleasure from inflicting pain on his children, but is willing to allow suffering in our lives to accomplish his sovereign redemptive purpose. We seldom know for certain why God allows any particular trial to come our way. But maybe, sometimes, the pain comes so that we will remember the words of the old song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”

Jesus went to cross to “prepare a place” for us in heaven. One day he will come to glorify us and bring us to our eternal rest. Here and now, you are citizens of the Kingdom of God and Ambassadors of Christ in this world.

Don’t let the good life you enjoy by God’s grace seduce you into forgetting your real home.

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