i stood in a line on black friday…
This weekend I saw SO CLEARLY the tension of living in the world but living by the Word.
The two often seem to stand in direct contradiction to each other.
Have you noticed that? Do you ever feel that same tension?
I felt it as I stood in a line on black Friday at a big box store (with my teenage son) behind hundreds of people buying tons of stuff.
Really cool, really fun stuff.
But it kind of bugged me, seeing all the people standing in a line to buy all the stuff.
Ironically, that morning, I had just studied the beatitudes in the book of Matthew. In 5:6 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
Seeing people consumed with buying stuff stood out starkly against the words I had just read. It had never seemed more obvious that the world seeks to fill the longing in their hearts with material possessions: bigger TVs, bigger homes, upgraded phones, big trips, new clothes, nice cars.
If you just buy this, you will be happy, it whispers.
Funny how I’ve gone black Friday shopping so many times and not really ever been bothered until this year…now that I’m deep into the Word on a regular basis. Because of the truth of the Bible, I can see for the first time that what the world sells is…
Not the truth.
Jesus made that clear in his sermon on the mount: he told his disciples that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be satisfied, because satisfaction ultimately comes from a desire for and a pursuit of God.
Not from a hunger for stuff. Not from standing in line to get a good deal on stuff.
And thus the tension...how do I live in the world but live by the Word?
How do I celebrate Christmas, as a Christian, in a way that shows my devotion to God and not the things of the world?
Here’s my honest answer: I don’t know.
The further I dig into the word, the less I fit into the world, and the less I want to. It’s messy.
But I’m trending toward being radical.Toward being the weird guy in the desert eating locusts and honey. Toward not fitting in. Toward being sold out and giving away love like cookies at Christmas. Toward feeding the less fortunate, caring for the unseen and serving others as my gifts this year. Toward standing in the line of righteousness… instead of standing in the line for more stuff. Toward a desire for him, and with him, his righteousness.
Here’s the rub: I hold nothing against the traditions of Christmas. As a matter of fact, I love them all. It’s just that I find it increasingly difficult to justify the material side of this season when it seems to be more about the gifts than the heart. More about the present than the presence of God.
I don’t think there is a formula.
I don’t think it’s wrong to love Christmas. I do.
But I do think there needs to be a hunger and thirst for God, and his righteousness, that supersedes the love of any holiday tradition or gift. There needs to be an admiration of the savior that surpasses the admiration of the beautiful lights and extravagant decor and fabulous food. There needs to be a desire for mercy and purity and peace more than a desire for presents. There needs to be a search for God’s presence and not just a search for the perfect holiday party outfit.
This keeps echoing in my mind: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
I think that sums up how I feel pretty accurately. In this Christmas season, I want to make sure that I seek him first, above everything else. Not that I can’t enjoy the holiday, but I want it to look differently in my heart, and in my checkbook and in my planner this year… that all three of those things reflect my desire for God and his righteousness above all else.
I love you, friends. My prayer is that this Christmas, amidst the parties and planning and decorating and baking, you seek and delight and desire the one thing that will truly satisfy you more than anything else. I think that is the best possible gift.
I’ve told you before, I’m not a poet. However, on black Friday, this literally rolled into my mind and out onto the paper and I feel I am supposed to share it. It’s based on Matthew 5:6-9.
a deep longing within me
aches to be satisfied
a desire for something I cannot name
an emptiness I cannot fill
my soul is hungry and my heart is thirsty
I have toiled in vain, this much I understand
for years I have chased the uncatchable wind
money, possessions, award, fame
a futile pursuit
left me chained to the darkness
captive to self
foolish, broken, alone
with a hunger and thirst I couldn’t assuage
my plight, not uncommon
sweet ache of my soul
could it be
this void shall remain
the remedy a mystery
where must I turn and what must I do
to fill, to overflow, to be satisfied
could it be
the answer lies not in the world
but in a humble savior
full of mercy, pure, a maker of peace
righteousness is he
fount of living water
portion of living bread
all I need
seek him I must
and with him, his righteousness
if ever the depths
if ever the ache
if ever the void
shall be satisfied
O what joy, what peace, what hope
the treasure of righteousness holds
my soul overflowing
in him alone
As always, I love hearing from you. Message me or comment below and I will get on my knees for you. Let’s do this faith journey together.
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