Sep 28, 2020
Join us as we explore God’s ancient wisdom and apply it to our modern lives. His word is as current and relevant today as it was when he inspired its authors more than two and a half millennia ago. The websites where you can reach us are alittlewalkwithgod.com, richardagee.com, or saf.church.
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Thanks for joining me today for "A Little Walk with God." I'm your host Richard Agee.
In 1967, Paul Anka heard a pop tune while on vacation in France. He negotiated rights to the music and wrote new words for it specifically for Frank Sinatra. Sinatra recorded it early in 1969, and it still holds a record staying in the UK top 40 for 40 weeks, and the top 75 for 89 weeks. The song became Sinatra's signature song, even though his daughter says he came to hate the song because it sounds so self-serving and self-indulgent. You probably guessed the name of the song by now, "My Way." The verses filled with the phrase, "I did it my way."
Unfortunately, the song could be the signature song of our culture. Or at least it could be with one little change, "I want it my way." We might not get it the way we want it simply because everyone can't have it the way they want it, but we want it, and too often, we will do anything to have it our way. Just look around at the political and social unrest going on around the world today.
That doesn't mean the world is perfect, and injustice should not be called out, but how many of the protests, political abuse, riots, demands are for what I want rather than what's right for the populace as a whole? "I want it my way," is the cry that comes out of most of those protests, political rallies, riots, and demands. How else can we interpret the voice that says, "We will burn down the country if you don't give us our demands?"
We live in a Frank Sinatra hit song culture. I want it my way and will do what it takes to do it my way no matter who it hurts. But that's not the Kingdom way. When Jesus came, many thought the Messiah would usher in the Kingdom the world's way with Rome's violent overthrow, freeing the Jews from their tyranny. But Jesus showed them a different way. At his baptism to begin his ministry, a dove rested on his shoulder, marking a ministry of peace and healing, not just of people but also of nations. God's Kingdom is one of peace, not violence. Violence only breeds more violence.
So how are we to approach the events of this world? How are we to get through this life with its teachings to get more at whatever cost? How do we overcome the drive that's all around us to get ahead and forget about everyone but ourselves?
We find the answer from Paul's letter to the church in Philippi. Paul wrote the letter while in prison. We sometimes forget the trials he went through and the suffering he endured as he shared the message of the Kingdom in those early years of Christendom. When we stop and think about Paul's suffering and persecution, we might marvel at the words he wrote. But anyone who has allowed Jesus to engulf their life will find them trustworthy. As he writes to the church, he makes an important request of them. We see it in the second chapter.
If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, 2 here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love. 3 Don't let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. 4 Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors' interests first. (Philippians 2:1-4 The Voice)
We don't see that taught much today in our philosophy or political science or economic classes. It's all about how much can I get for me. Forget about everyone else; it's about my comfort in this world, not so in God's Kingdom. Remember Jesus' words? The first will be last, and the last will be first. He showed us a servant lifestyle. Paul echoes the lifestyle that brings joy to our heavenly father. Come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love.
That doesn't mean I have to agree with you or you have to agree with me. It means we must agree with God. We must look to Jesus and keep our eyes on him. He is the standard, not me or you or anyone else. When we think we have it right, we are probably in trouble. Jesus has it right. Only when we model him can we expect our actions and behavior to approach unity within the body of Christ. It's not about my way or your way, but about Jesus' way.
I like the way Paul puts it in that last verse we shared. "Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors' interests first."
I remember the sibling quarrels in my family growing up. Sometimes, they would even escalate to knock down, drag-out fights with my older brother at times. But if anyone outside the family ever tried to attack one of us, watch out. You suddenly found yourself on the losing end. We stuck together and supported each other to the end. I know a lot of families like that. Unfortunately, I don't see a lot of churches like that.
We use the words about being a family, but we're far from it. We gossip about each other. We tear each other down. We meet in our little groups to find out the dirty secrets about lives and then spread those secrets around rather than lifting them in prayer and giving support. Too many times, churches have become one of Satan's best battlegrounds. We've let the world's philosophy of "I want it my way" creep into our lives instead of listening to Paul's admonition to think of others first.
How do we turn all this around? How do we stop what is happening in our world? How do we bring peace and harmony to a land filled with riots, violence, and divide? How do we make a difference where we are?
First, check your heart. Is Jesus truly Lord of your life? Does he own you? Once that is settled, model your life after his. It's really that simple. I won't tell you it's easy. Jesus felt the pressure of the Jewish leaders with a bounty on his head. He felt the ridicule of his own family and friends. More people rejected his message than believed it. Finally, Roman soldiers beat him and crucified him. But if you look at scripture and watch his life, Jesus' lived filled with joy. He taught, he healed, he spent a lot of time in people's homes at dinner parties. Jesus enjoyed life.
So did Paul and Peter and all the other Apostles. So do all Jesus' followers who understand what the Kingdom is about. It's not about me. It's not about us. It's not about God's followers. It's about God. The Kingdom is all about him. It is his domain. He is its center, its beginning, and its end. Everything about the Kingdom surrounds him. He created it and all things in it. He established it for himself but invites us to be part of it. That means God is and always will be first in everything.
With the perspective, God first in life, modeling Jesus' life, securing your neighbors' interests first becomes far less difficult along life's journey. As long as we keep our eyes on him, we stand much less chance of singing "I want it my way" as the rest of the world heads down the broad road to destruction. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. But God's spirit in you will give you the strength you need to do it.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more Bible-based teaching. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn't, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.
Scriptures marked THE VOICE are taken from the THE VOICE (The Voice): Scripture taken from THE VOICE ™. Copyright© 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.