Tuesday, November 15

Life Swap

I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. --Psalm 119:19-20

Last night I turned on the television for some brainless stimulation while I noshed on a late-evening snack. I happened to catch one of those so-called "“reality" shows called, are you ready for this… "Wife Swap." Two wives from very different--in fact, nearly completely opposite—backgrounds live in each other's family for a time. Each wife leaves a set of instructions about how her household is run. For the first part of the show, each wife must follow the host family's rules. During the second half, each wife is permitted to make new family rules.

Each wife thought that the other's way of doing things was ridiculous. Each wife insisted that her way of doing things was better, even to the point of refusing to play by the rules and participate fully in the host family's lifestyle. I considered this show an interesting experiment in social behavior. The lesson learned is that very few people are willing to give up a lifestyle that is familiar and comfortable, even if that lifestyle is not necessarily the best one.

This reality is not a new one. Throughout the Bible we see examples of people who are more willing to stay in a pattern of sinfulness rather than make changes. To them, the effort required to change is less appealing that staying in a comfort zone. Consider Pharaoh during the plague of frogs; Moses told him how he could be free of them, but Pharaoh decided to sit it out. And what about the rich young ruler who asked Jesus how he could get into heaven? Jesus told him that he should give all his possessions to the poor, yet at this suggestion, the young man was crestfallen, because he couldn't bear the thought of giving it all up. The things of this world, even when they are less than ideal, are still a source of comfort and familiarity to many.

Deciding to live a life wholly centered on Christ is deeply contrary to our personal nature. We are all loathe to relinquish control to anyone, let alone an unseen Spiritual Being. Much like the wives in "Wife Swap", we find ourselves constantly frustrated by the idea of going along with something foreign and dissimilar to our usual preferences.

This struggle does not only pertain to those who have no yet decided to accept Christ. It extends to those of us who are already Christians as well. Because we know that our true home awaits us in heaven, we are constantly at odds with our temporary host home here on earth. We look around and see that the rules that the world follows are quite often in direct opposition to God's rules. Unlike the television show, however, we are not required to assimilate into this world. In fact, we need to continually ask God to give us the courage and boldness to reflect His kingdom to those who think that this life is their home.

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