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Option 1: Life stinks
…No, really. Think about it. Compared to Heaven? Sheesh. And God threw us here to battle it out with our human natures to see if we could win and eventually spend eternity with Him. Sounds pretty bleak. Who wants to do that?
Option 2: Life is great
…No, really. Think about it. Compared to Heaven, of course it doesn’t seem all that great. But God threw us here in the middle of a million opportunities to serve Him. Sounds pretty exciting. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Option 1 is how a lot of “Christians” view their lives. It’s easier that way, really. If we know that life stinks, why try making it better? If we know we’re going to fail, why try? If we know God loves us anyway, why try to be perfect? If our goal is Heaven, why be happy with where we are?
Well, there are some points there. But seeing it in writing, it doesn’t seem so positive, does it? No, probably, we’d all have to agree that Option 2 is what it’s all about. Serving God. Living life to the fullest. Making the most of our opportunities. The problem is, that when we choose to live with Option 2, our life gets harder. Not stinky. Just harder. Here’s why…
Option 2 requires a lot out of a person. It not only requires a dedication to God and His plan for our lives, but it requires growth. And we all know that growth hurts. Who likes growing pains? Unless you’re a freak, you probably didn’t enjoy that pain.
Option 2 requires ignoring all the arguments of Option 1 that sound so reasonable. “Why try?” Turning away from this question requires strength.
Option 2 requires that we pay attention to the opportunities God puts before us and that we actually do something about them. This takes action and, much of the time, the aforementioned growth.
Here’s where the problems start…
Proceeding with the ultimate Christian life involving courage and responsibility requires getting out of our boxes. But we don’t like to get out of our boxes, do we? Come on, be honest. Settling down in a nice, comfy, cozy box is pleasant, isn’t it? Oh, we might cut a hole in the side sometime so we can see out to view the big wide world, but that just reminds us how big the world is, and we refuse to actually cut a hole big enough for us to step out. No hole big enough, no reason to exit. Right? Or how about those times that we actually do force a leg through that window? “Ooh! It’s cold! I don’t want to try that!”
Of course, there’s the question, why should one even care about getting out of their box? The box is comfortable! It provides ample room to serve God, and yes, one can be happy in there, too! What’s the big deal?
Well, here it is. And you know, you may not even get this, as hard as I try to explain it in writing. Sometimes experience is the only way to go. But let me at least try. Perfect example – why try? Why not try?
Let’s face it – getting out of one’s box not only prompts growth in the world, but spiritual growth as well. We may not like it, but they go hand in hand. If we grow to higher heights in this world, we will have more opportunities thrown at us to serve God. The more responsibility we carry in this world, the more God can give us to use for Him.
We could stay in diapers all our lives…some people might not find that too repulsive. But come on! No, let’s get potty trained so we can wear underpants like adults. It really isn’t that hard. Ah, but now guess what? Now that we are responsible and sensible enough to answer the call of nature on our own without needing Mommy or Daddy around, we can actually go places and do things we couldn’t before. Not only are we looked upon as adults, but we’re not tied down to certain necessities we were before. Sure, walking around in a dirty diaper would be the easiest route to take, but who wants to stink in public? We might actually be able to go to the mall now without embarrassing ourselves. Maybe we’ll finally be able to witness to someone else who’s sitting in their own diaper of sin, because we’re now actually mature enough to do so.
On a grander scale, it would be easy to find a nice little place to live…a decent job…maybe stay single, and lock ourselves away from the world. Compared to the dirty diaper, this option is where a lot of people land. It’s not so extreme. It’s actually accepted, contrary to the dirty diaper.
Alright, so staying single might not be a bad thing, depending on who you talk to, Christian or not. But here’s the problem. The less you do in your own life, the less you do for God. Where’s the parallel? Take getting out of the house for a while as an example. It’s easy to stay indoors all day, watch TV, eat snack foods, and fool around with our toys. It’s fun! But is it fulfilling? No. Why? Because it’s doing nothing to exalt Christ. Yes, we all need breaks, and having fun time out for ourselves is not bad. But habitually avoiding society is dangerous. Society is where Christians are needed the most. It could be in public, getting to know non-Christians, witnessing to friends, just being a light down at the grocery store. It could be at your church, serving in a physical way, actually using your time for something progressive. There are many different ways (of which I will not debate the hierarchy of) to avoid becoming stagnant.
But wait! Any number of those things are in sight, but…they’re outside of the box. Now what?
For crying out loud, get out of the box!
If the only reason you’re not mingling with people outside of your dwelling is because it’s scary, then you need to seriously consider getting out of your box. If the only reason you’re not serving in the church is because it’s scary, then again, you seriously need to consider getting out of your box.
We all have a hundred and one excuses not to do things. We’re busy. We’re tired. We don’t have the money to contribute to that certain mission. Some of these may very well be true. But look hard…look deep. Are those the real reasons for staying inside your box? If they are, fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if it’s because they’re new…they’re scary…
See where I’m going with this?
Let’s say we stay inside our own little box the rest of our lives. Come to think of it, we can actually become “happy” living there. But if we’re refusing to step outside and take a good look around at what life has to offer, what’s God going to do? Do you really think he’s going to drop a big opportunity in your lap while you’re in that tiny box? It would crush you! No, the opportunity is going to come outside of that box. It’s sitting there now. Just waiting. God is saying “Get out of your comfort zone.” If you can’t do it for yourself, can you do it for God?
Those irritating butterflies in your stomach that flutter when you’re in a group and you know what’s going on around you is wrong…you know what they are, don’t you? They’re outsiders. They’re knocking on your box’s door, calling you, begging you to come out and say something to stop whatever it is that’s encouraging sin.
That longing that you just want to stomp on as you look up on stage at your church when others are using their musical talents for God? That’s coming from outside your box, too. What’s holding you back this time?
God gave you abilities, talents, skills for a reason. Do you really think you can use them all inside that little box? And if you’re not, then your potential for Christ is being intentionally thwarted.
A Christian’s life is about constant growth. Nope, sorry, you can’t get around it. Unless there’s something wrong with your brain, you will learn to go about life without diapers. Unfortunately, after we’re a certain age, growth is actually a choice. Do I step out of my box and go on that mission trip? Do I give my money to my church? Do I offer my assistance in Bible study?
Life is full of boxes to curl up in so we can pretend we’re happy. Maybe we are. But are we satisfied? How can we be, with all those God-given opportunities out there? And yes, worldly growth still parallels spiritual growth. Why do you learn to ride a bicycle? Freedom! You can go around the block ten times as fast now. You don’t have to waste your energy going to the store. It’s fun, and it’s something you can do with friends. It’s a mode of transportation to places you need to go. Why do you upgrade to a car? More freedom! You can go around the block a whole lot faster now. You can go out of town to visit that person who just needs a shoulder to cry on. You can travel miles to meet that special someone. You can help your church by offering rides, or helping someone move.
See how general life experiences can be changed into God-given opportunities to serve? To use potential?
Life is about constant growth. It’s scary. It hurts. It’s a big world out there with traps and pitfalls. But, when you really think about it…is it really that scary when you’ve got God behind you, steering you around the potholes?
Without growth, life is meaningless. We start off as babies and grow into adults. We start off as spiritual babies, and grow into mature Christians being used by God…if we choose the right path – you know, that one that leads out of your box.
You may get your leg, your arm, or your whole body out of your box. Then, guess what? You’re going to find that you’re simply in a bigger box. You can stretch your arms, you can breathe deeply, and you can grow. But there are still continually stable walls around you.
Then you grow big enough that your new box isn’t so big anymore. It starts to stifle you again, and as you look out your window, you see new walls – just a bit farther away. Gathering up enough courage, you step out into yet a bigger box where God can use you even more. This box might contain you for a little while longer.
Then, you learn more, you mature, and, yes, again, your box will get too small. Each person has control over their own boxes. Some never leave theirs. Some step out, just to jump back in again. And some muster up the guts to step out and stay out. They grow.
The key is to never be satisfied with the box you’re now in. Settle in, get used to your new surroundings, breath a little and wait until you’ve got a handle on things. But when you look out that cutout window and see an opportunity just out of reach – don’t stay inside. Jump out and grab it. By the time you do, you’ll be in a bigger, much more comfortable box, suited just for your needs.
We’re to live joyous lives while we’re stuck here on earth waiting for our eternal reward. I don’t think God wants us to be miserable and look at life as though everything stinks. He wants us to reach an element of happiness that involves joy and peace through Him.
But how satisfied are we to be? If we become too satisfied with our lives, even our relationship with God, then we have stopped growing. If we are one hundred percent satisfied with the way we live, and the way we behave as Christians, then we have stopped moving forward.
There is always room for growth. Always room for progression. Always room for improvement. Always.
Option 2 is harder than Option 1. But I think we can both agree that the elements of Option 2 will get us much farther than living with the stagnant elements of Option 1.
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