this is a continuation of this post here.
I was relating a story we have as a read-aloud in our home...when I left the story in my last post; the villagers in the Kingdom of the One True King had worked hard to get the foreigners in the neighboring land to feel comfortable in their village, and to move into the village so they would be happy under the rule of the One True King...
Well, one day the One True King came to visit the village, he was surprised to find that the foreigners had overtaken the village, but he recognized the faces of many subjects though they were dressed as the others. He asked what had happened and was astonished and grieved after hearing their 'plan'. He explained that by changing the village to make the foreigners feel more at home, and in making things less different so the foreigners didn't have to feel like they had to give up very much to come to the king,-all the villagers had done was allow themselves to be swayed into conforming to their ways. He wanted others to come to the Kingdom out of love. He did not like what he saw in the village that day.
During my highschool and college days, I worked in a Christian bookstore. (a fun place to work, especially if you like to read!). We had a special section of the bookstore where awards, stickers and toys for giving out as prizes for Sunday school were kept. We called these items "Jesus junk" and "holy hardware". Not flattering, I know..but yet an apt description, and we all knew it. These toys were various cheap plastic toys, things such as bracelets, combs, coin purses, etc. with the name of Jesus stuck on it somewhere, or His picture, or a cross or something. My point is that these items were not special, they were mostly junk and stamping the name of Jesus on them did not change what they were or add any value to them.
These stories warn us to be careful of embracing the world, in hopes that the world will feel more comfortable, more welcome, more at home. We watched this occur, in varying degrees over years at our (former) home church. The common reason offered was for outreach to the 'youth' in the community. The parties, and eventual club hangout...to me hinted of the plastic with the name of Jesus stamped onto it somewhere.
I think we need to be wary of maintaining or developing a taste for the plastic, a 'Jesus-lite' product that does not ruffle, fits into this california-cool-christian lifestyle and does not ask a choice to be made between serving the world or serving the Lord.
How does a young person (or how do we, for that matter?) learn the value of inheritence over the bowl of soulish comfort if they are never taught to confront their own soul-life, how to die to self so Jesus can have the victory? If we are not equiped to run the race as Paul exhorted us? How does the soothing message, "you are special, and God loves you very much" prepare anyone or warn anyone away from becoming profane like Esau and despising our inheritence?
It is easy and even natural to prefer the sugary imitation syrup to the real thing. The real thing can go down a little bitter sometimes, it requires a dying to self, a dying often to the preferences we naturally enjoy, even sometimes the way of life we would enjoy. That which is imitation is an easily-made, man-made substance,-manufactured in a day. That which is real is organic, and takes a lifetime to produce. -and I admit, too, sometimes I steer first for the "lite", it does go down much easier...
We are able to enjoy Christ today as the promised land, we are not meant to merely occupy and amuse ourselves in a shallow way until we die and go to heaven. All we have to do is step in and enjoy Christ in a real way, enter into His rest fully. Our enjoyment of Christ today is a foretaste of the enjoyment of the coming kingdom. How sad if we, or our children settle for the imitation now, running the race poorly, wandering in the desert, unable to deal with the giants in the land, weak-baby-christians.
I read somewhere this quote "my daily struggle is not between the world and I, but between me and the Lord." The struggle comes down to how much I love my soul-life and will I choose the bowl of comfort, or if I will step forward and choose the inheritence.
"let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," Hebrews 12:1
"He who finds his soul-life shall lose it, and he who loses his soul-life for My sake shall find it." Matthew 10:39
"And do not be conformed (fashioned) according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect." Romans 12:1
"as it is written, Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated". Romans 9:13