Thought for the Month (July 2010)

Some of you reading this will be football supporters glued to your television sets as the World Cup makes its way to final on 11th July, and some of you will be wondering what all the fuss is about. It surprises many people at how passionate football supporters can be. It is only a game after all, but it is a beautiful game and at its best it can be a stunning spectacle. At least Bob thinks so! (He has just watched the England v Algeria game and his passion is fast ebbing away!!)

Some of you prefer the gladiatorial contests at Wimbledon, some of you the peace and quiet of a lovely garden. We are all different and different things motivate us.

But it is important to realise that the human heart needs something to motivate it and human beings are never satisfied to just drift through life with nothing to excite or motivate them. They will always find something.

We all have a God given desire for purpose in our lives and it must be expressed somehow. For a vast number of people around the world that desire for purpose is expressed through football. Just look at all the England flags that are decorating our land at the moment and the agony and the ecstasy that we see as people follow their team's results.

When we become Christians, however, something very important changes in us. It is not that those who loved football before now don't like it or suddenly decide to become ardent gardeners! It is that when we are born again a higher priority comes into our lives. If football was the overwhelming passion before, it is now pushed down the pecking order.

Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness over and above the other priorities in our lives (see Matthew 6 verses 25-34, particularly verse 33). As a football supporter, I (Bob) can still enjoy football and I do, but it can no longer be the passion of my life.

When we become Christians, Jesus makes us choose. Football was not an issue in Jesus' day but money was as it still is today, and He was blunt on the point. He knew the love of money was such an attractive desire. Money buys good things, you can save it and count it, and it appears to give security. But Jesus says, 'You cannot love both God and money.' (see Matthew 6 verse 24)

When we become Christians a process starts, which requires our co-operation and which changes our priorities. Seeking first the Kingdom of God or loving God first and our neighbour as ourselves does not happen overnight but our Lord requires that this is our aim. This is part of the growth of Christian character but it will only happen if we will it to happen. These changes are a work of God in our lives but they will only happen if we want them to.

Without them our Christian walk will always be a sham, putting on a front to the world which does not reflect what is really going on in our hearts. This is why Jesus was so damning of the Pharisees. They were hypocrites because their words and actions did not reflect what was really going on in their lives. They were clearly not seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness in their lives although they thought they were!

For the same reason the charge of 'hypocrite' always hangs over the Christian. Do our words and actions really reflect our hearts? The only way we can push this word away is to allow our Lord to change us, by repenting whenever we become aware of the hypocrisy in our lives and turning towards God's priorities.

There is nothing more exciting than seeing God's priorities being formed in us and serving Him as He asks of us, but as an additional blessing we can still enjoy the football! 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.' (Matthew 6 verse 23).

The Christian gospel is indeed good news because our Lord only asks of us what He will give us the power to do. Lets encourage each other as we grow in Christian character together.

With love, Bob and Karen

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church