There is a lot of noise around us. With a constant stream of information, the news, social media, advertisements, etc. so much is thrust into our faces, as a result, our eyes and ears are constantly occupied. Then there are our mobile phones. They have become so essential that without them, most of us experience something between a mild and a full-blown panic attack. I read in recent Thematic Investment research paper that one of the biggest fears of Millennials is low battery according to a recent survey! When you consider that mobile phones were not available to a vast majority of the population before the mid-90s, it’s amazing how they have become such important accessories.
That said, one of the consequences of the constant noise is constant distraction, this means being silent and making time out for introspection and reflection rarely occurs. With so many distractions, how does one ‘find themselves’? Where is the space to stop and think? How does a person develop their own world view? By that I mean to find out who you really are, what makes you tick, your principles, beliefs and ultimately, the prism through which you view life. Finding one’s self is a process, one that you have to dedicate time and effort to put yourself through. Avoiding this process usually leaves you dictated to by the noise and your world view determined by others. With polarised opinion and the ever-fluid world of trends, etc. it is so easy to get swept along by what the media says, what your friends think and public opinion. If you haven’t thought things through for yourself, you are likely to agree with what most people say. Ask yourself, are my beliefs and principles my own? Can I defend my world view?
In trying to form your principles and beliefs, there is a question that calls for reflection: How do I want to live my life? That is the question I pose today because it is becoming increasingly important in a world of polarised opinions about how each of us chooses to live our lives. The choices we make not only impact us, but they also impact the people around us and in some cases, cast a shadow on the generations after us. As a Christian, the practical aspect of my faith has become ever more important. I ask myself, time and again, how relevant is my faith in my everyday life? Christianity is not about going to church, though that has a part to play, it certainly isn’t about following a set of rules. It is about a relationship with God in and through the Person of Jesus Christ and allowing that relationship to define your worldview. In becoming a disciple of Jesus, I must allow His words and teachings to form the foundation of my principles and beliefs. I must seek to view life through the prism of God’s Word and promises. This ought to be evident in my relationship with my wife, kids, family, friends, colleagues, etc. it also ought to be evident in the awe in which I hold God’s creation. Therefore it is a fair statement to say that how I treat others and how I approach life is a direct reflection of my relationship with Jesus. The two relationships [to Him and to everyone else] are not mutually exclusive. If Jesus is who He says He is, then everything He said will make sense on every level and stand up to the scrutiny of time and the vagaries of life. Put another way, if God’s way isn’t the best possible way to live life, then God is not who He says He is. Alternatively, if God is who He says He is, then why would I want to live my life apart from Him and His word?
God’s Word isn’t complex or difficult to understand, lest we forget, Jesus spent His preaching years talking to mostly illiterate fishermen not learned teachers. He presented God’s relationship with us and how we ought to relate to one another in simplistic terms that illiterate fishermen could understand. Therefore, the issue is not the complexity of what He said but rather, our willingness to accept and live by it. There is a famous quote I love and I respect the man who made it. He was a renowned atheist [who later became a Christian] whose curiosity about Jesus led him to embark on a journey that changed his life. Here’s what He said “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”[C. S. Lewis – Mere Christianity]. For the most important phrase in that quote is “…you must make your choice…”.
The purpose of this post is not to convert anyone, conversion is at the end of a process of searching, I aim to challenge you to embark on a search like C. S. Lewis did. Don’t be satisfied with others’ opinions and beliefs, determine yours. I recommend starting that search with getting to know Jesus. Not the Jesus someone else has told you about but the Jesus expounded upon in the Bible. Read it for yourself, then study it over and over again, I can guarantee it will not leave you the same. Jesus is not dead, He is alive and He is very happy to reveal Himself to those who truly search for Him. Start by reading the 4th book in the New Testament, John’s Gospel. This book, more than any other book of the Bible, delves into who Jesus is and why you can and should put your faith in Him and anchor your world view on His word.
Finally, I can also guarantee that the things we spend our time seeking such as money, fame, relationships, jobs and any other human construct if they haven’t already done so, will let us down. I am certain of this because, without a God-centred world view, these things we spend our time seeking are worthless and cannot offer fulfilment or satisfaction. One other thing is certain, whether rich or poor, white or black, able-bodied or disabled, Christian or non-Christian, you will have to face life and make difficult choices. As M. Scott Peck puts it in A Road Less Travelled: “Life is difficult”. There is no escaping our insecurities and the challenges of life. Life will challenge your beliefs and principles. So here is my suggestion take time away from the noise, find yourself and your anchor so that when life happens, you respond [i.e. interpret your circumstance through the prism of your beliefs], rather than react [i.e. impulsive action] to it or allow outside influences like social media and the prevailing public opinion determine how you ought to respond and your world view. The choice is yours, so are the consequences.