One of our society’s biggest pastimes remains our quest for solutions to problems. These problems includes things like ‘how to live in areas of our world where the temperature remains below zero for most of the year?’ or ‘how to find out where precisely I am in relation to any other place on the planet?’ Solutions to these “problems” evolved into technology such as under-floor heating and GPS-systems. This characteristic of humanity has made us “problem-solvers” by nature. These perceived “problems” however usually have to do with the invention of machines to make life easier or more comfortable for us. Our minds are primed towards strategies that bring us to ease and comfort and enjoyment – but not happiness.
True happiness cannot come through the perpetual seeking of ease or comfort or pleasure. These things might dull the pain in some – the privileged few. But for the most part, we have to exchange basic happiness and peace for everyone in order to achieve comfort for only a small minority.
It has become a very expensive and evil alternative for happiness. Apart from the many wars that have taken place in the last couple of decades – most of which have been fought over precisely those commodities that ensure ease and comfort, such as coal, oil, gold and diamonds – our planet is beginning to suffer under the weight of these pursuits. So is our physical and emotional health. To keep this crazy machine running many people must work extremely hard and because of the very nature of our global economy there seems to be few alternatives. We have created this treadmill and in order not to loose our footing we must keep on running at all cost. And at all cost it will be. It is time that we look beyond solutions to mere comfort. It is time that we start to face the fact that in order to implement solutions to our universal need for happiness we will have to cut back on these other destructive habits and learn new thought and lifestyle habits that will help us towards happiness for all. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6: 19 “not to store up treasures for ourselves on earth” and not to try and “serve two masters – God and Mammon – at the same time (verse 24), but rather to “seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness” (verse 33) and everything we need will be within our reach. The apostle also points to the ultimate solution:
“Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect” (Rom 12:2).
What Paul is speaking of here is an ultimate solution for our world. It might not be readily acceptable to all as an ultimate solution for humanity simply because the agent thereof – the church – have failed miserably in living and proclaiming it as such. One reason for this state of affairs is the simple fact that the ultimate solution cannot be lived out and take affect only on Sundays between 09:00-11:00. It needs to be integrated into our very lifestyles as members of his Body on earth and to do that is to buy in into Jesus’ vision of a life of faith, truth, simplicity, love and creativity in everything we do, from the way we interact with our fellow human being to the type of food we eat to the way we do business.
The church was supposed to be different, but all I often see are Christians who try their best to fit into the world’s mold – to look and dress and shop and eat and act just as the world does. This is not, to use Paul’s words “true worship”. Conformity to the world is to deny our Lord.
Let us give ourselves as living and breathing sacrifices to God – every day and every moment of the day. The Kingdom of God will then bloom all around us.
by PEN Senior Pastor Francois Smit