God does not tell us to avoid contact with unbelievers; quite the contrary. We are called by Christ to love others as He loved us and to lead them to Him. However, we are to be an influence in this world and we are to guard ourselves from being influenced by it. In Ephesians 5:6 Paul says, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. We must always remember that the promises of this world are fleeting and hold temporary satisfaction and fulfillment. It is through our love and obedience of God that we are able to make an eternal impact on those around us.
The knowledge of Christ and a relationship with Him are two separate things. In Ephesians 4:21 Paul reminds the Ephesians of this, Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. As believers who have a relationship with Christ, and who study His word, we are taught the truth of who Christ is and how we are to be a reflection of Him. We have no excuses when we believe in these truths. If we fail, it is because of a conscious decision to rebel against what we know is true.
We all have our good days and our bad. We all sin and make mistakes. The body of Christ is there to support us in our times of need, just as we are there to support the body of Christ when others need us. We do this because we have a common love created and supported by the love Christ has for us. In Ephesians 7:16 Paul says, From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. As individuals we have our weaknesses, but as a body of believers we are strong and have very few gaps in our faith. If we were all a little more open to understanding how we can work together as a body of Christ, we would all be stronger in our faith and stronger in influence and deed.
The unity we experience as believers should be prevalent and obvious to those around us. Ephesians 4:4-6 Paul says, 4 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. In reality, many times we experience anything but unity. We focus on majoring in the minors and fail to look at the big picture. If we cannot see the “big picture” message of Christ, which is to love God and love others, then we fail our mission from Him. We need to focus on the things that bind us and not on the things that divide.
The freedom we received through Christ is immense. Without Christ our approachability to God would be limited, just as it was for the Jewish people in the Old Testament. In Ephesians 3:12 Paul says, In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. We have confidence because of the freedom we have through Christ and it is because of Him that we can have true relationship with God.
In Psalm 144:4 David reminds us, Man is like a breath; his days are like fleeting shadow. This is very similar to James 4:14 where it says, “…You are a midst that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” God never promised us eternal life here on earth; He promised it with Him in eternity. But God did place us here on earth for a purpose. Let us not waste our time on inferior endeavors that have little to no impact in the light of eternity. Let us live our life with purpose, constantly seeking God’s will for our lives.
A prayer for guidance is self-centered if it is not accompanied by a recognition that God has the power to redirect our path. Wanting guidance to fit out wants and ignoring God’s will is not obedience. Psalm 143:10 says, Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. David asked God to teach him to do God’s will and not his own. We should be asking God to open our eyes to His will so that we may know the right direction for our lives and align our wills with God’s.
We all get overwhelmed by our circumstances and stress. And while we don’t always turn to God as our first response, He is the best solution to all our problems in ever situation. In Psalm 142:1 David begins the Psalm with a plea for help, I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. There is no question God is the only guaranteed solution to all our problems. We may not always like the answers, and our requests may not be answered exactly as we had envisioned in our minds, but when God answers our prayers, it is the best answer in the light of eternity.
Sometime, in our sorrow, we forget what it’s like to be joyful. When the Israelites were exiled or in captivity, they would work hard to maintain their culture and their identity as God’s chosen people. Often that identity was tied to their life back in Jerusalem. In Psalm 137:5 the author wants to desperately remember his identity as God’s chosen and what it meant to live as a free and sovereign nation under God: If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. For us, when we are far from God or when we have lost our joy because of the sorrow in our lives, we should cling closely to our identity in Christ and the freedom we have from salvation, regardless of our present circumstances. While this is easier said than done, there will be times when this is all we have.
As the body of Christ here on earth, we should live in unity and encourage one another to build a closer relationship with God. Unfortunately, too often we focus on minor differences of opinion. Psalm 133:1 says, How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! When we live in harmony with one another, we can spend more time focusing on Christ rather than ourselves. I believe disharmony is the greatest tool Satan has at his disposal. When we are focused internally on simple disagreements it becomes easy to lose focus on what’s really important.