Good Morning Brothers and Sisters…
Last week I ended our time together by making the statement, “It is time for us to decide if we are ‘Americans’ first…or ‘Christians’ first. It is time for us to choose our political party and our religion.”
I realize that our gut reaction to this will be pretty similar. Anybody reading this is typically a ‘Christian’ first, ‘American’ second, kind of person, however, I believe we should take some time to look inward to see if there has been any mixing of the two. To look inward, we first need to understand what the parameters of inward really are. Jesus, the Apostles, and the Church for ever after; have referred to a ‘man’s heart’ as the true barometer, or center, for who he really is. Looking inward means to examine our own heart. Our ‘heart’ is the part of us, that the spiritual war between between good and evil can access. Our ‘heart’ is valuable territory that the angels and demons continually battle over. Our ‘heart’ is the center of the man that influences and controls will, desire, and motivation. Once a direction has been chosen (desire), the ‘heart’ pumps life (will) into the pursuit and relishes the small victories (motivation) along the way. Our ‘hearts’ are the compass of our lives. We go the direction our ‘hearts’ lead us, point toward, and beckon from. Without fail, we are what we pursue because we pursue what we love. That great cloud of witnesses that reside just on the other side of the physical…know this, and battle each other for the ‘hearts of men’. Before we examine the symptoms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ heart conditions. I think we should understand that we (mankind) are also the great cloud of witnesses to the spiritual battle. They (the spirit world) bear witness to the physical world, but we (the physical world) also bear witness to the spirit world.
Okay…stay with me here.
This is why the ‘Church’ is a political organization because Jesus is KING and His servants in the spiritual realm are constantly campaigning and battling for our vote, endorsement, and allegiance (our hearts). We (mankind) cast our vote everytime we cheer, clap, or echo the victories we see in the physical world, as a result of victories in the spiritual world This cheering, clapping, or echoing is ‘worship’. We ‘worship’ whatever has captured the ground of our ‘hearts’. If our will, desire, and motivation has caused our lives to revolve around ‘something’, and that ‘something’ colors the stories we tell and the songs we sing…then that ‘something’ has captured our heart and we worship it. In Christianity, we see the significance of the ‘first’ commandment: “I am the Lord thy God, thou shall not have any other gods before Me.” Before we were ever warned against stealing, killing, or coveting the Lord is warning us about the vulnerability of our own hearts. What is amazing to me, is how blind we (Christians) can be to this. Let me use an example of how our lives can tell a story of ‘worship’, complete with temples, heroes, villains, victory and defeat.
“Sunday mornings are days of great anticipation”, remarked Bill with a huge smile. “It’s a family affair for sure. If we are not traveling to the game, we watch it downstairs in the mancave. My wife starts cooking on Thursday nights in preparation for Sunday, while my responsibilities are to make sure the signs and the lights are still attached to the house securely and the vehicles are fueled up, the grill is packed, tables are in, etc. The kids are in charge of the laundry. It’s their responsibility to make sure all of the jerseys are washed and ironed and that we have plenty of clean blankets in case the weather is chilly. We like to listen to the local sports radio pre-game show on the way up to the stadium, just to get us in the right mood, and then listen to the Coaches post game on the way home.”
Their lives tell a story of ‘worship’. Their hearts have been captured. Their cheers, applause, and echoing of the game becomes a liturgy for their life and a pattern by which they live. It also becomes our (physical world) response to the victory in the spiritual world. Anytime a heart gets captured, it represents a victory in the spiritual world. Our desires and motivations become the applause the combatants ‘hear’ on the game turf of the spiritual side. When we look inward, we must realize that at times we are cheering for the ‘good’ guys…but at times we are cheering for the ‘bad’ guys. The access into our hearts is the pathway of the spiritual world. We cannot close the path, but we can install filters that discern the flow as ‘good stuff’, or ‘bad stuff’. The filters that will fit this pathway are both ‘political’ and ‘religious’. Depending on the ‘brand’ we install, the discernment of ‘good stuff’ versus ‘bad stuff’ will be different.
Some filters are built on ‘characteristics’, and some are built on ‘rights’. Until we have the time to dig into them…lets spend some time this next week looking inward at our own ‘hearts’ and asking ourselves this question, “Who am I cheering for when I applaud this…or echo that?”