Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…The Right Stuff
In 1983 a new movie hit the box office entitled The Right Stuff. The film was all about the race into space, and man’s desire to walk on the moon he had been staring at in the night sky for eons. That is the way it is with mankind, we desire to go farther, faster and higher than we ever have before. The drive to do so is fueled by our desire for greatness. On some levels we all desire to be seen as great at what we do, and it never hurts our egos to hear we have the right stuff.
Every day mankind is in the race to become faster, better, smarter than we were the day before. On an individual basis we may be trying to work harder so we will be noticed and get that promotion that pays more. When we make more money we can drive a newer car, live in a better neighborhood, or send our kids to a more prestigious university. As a people we have been racing daily toward faster technology, better medicine, and things like energy independence. Sometimes we are even looking to the stars to see what new discoveries might be right there on the horizon just like in the movie I mentioned a moment ago. We do all of this in the name of progress.
There is value in progress, I’ll be the first to admit it. Make no mistake, I like many of the things progress has brought to my life. I am glad I can find out almost anything I am wondering by simply saying to my phone, “Hey Google…”. I like that I can heat a cup of cold coffee in about 60 seconds in the microwave. I am especially fond of indoor plumbing, something my own grandparents lived without at times. The problem with progress is that it can make us feel smart. What I mean by that is that it can begin to create the illusion that we know what is best and are capable of making it so. When this happens we begin to think we know what is right for us…and more dangerous yet, we think we are the determiners of what is right and wrong. We become our own authors of our own morality. It is the progressive thing to do.
The obvious problem with that for anyone who thinks about it for more than a second is that eventually in all of our progressiveness no one can deem something to be wrong because it might be determined to be right for someone else. When you follow that logic (or lack of logic) the following thinking can and does ensue; Stealing is ok as long as you don’t take too much. Killing is ok, as long as there is a good enough reason for it. Deeming some of God’s created people more valuable than others is ok if it serves your purposes. Allowing same gender couples to redefine marriage is ok if it will keep people from protesting angrily. Even choosing to ignore the gender God lovingly gave you and trading it for an imagined identity is ok if it makes you feel like you are in control. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:12 …But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. This is the way of humankind. When we try to circumvent God and His statutes because we find them too restrictive, all we have left to use as a standard for righteousness is us. And as Paul said, when we use ourselves as the standard, we have no understanding of the truth.
So what is the answer? Be courageous and stand for The Righteous Stuff. “But wait pastor Ken, won’t I be setting myself up for ridicule and risk being ostracized by those around me?” Yes, you will, and you might even face some forms of persecution for your stance. Why? Ultimately because you will not be standing for what you think as the opposition is, but rather because you will be standing for what God thinks, and people who want to write their own rules have great difficulty even acknowledging there is a God who has already authored the only righteousness that exists.
In Matthew 5:10-12 it is recorded that Jesus said Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. His disciple Peter echoed that in 1 Peter 3:13-17 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
As I said before, if the suffering were only because you thought differently and were standing in the way of someone’s desire to do their own thing, it might not seem worth it. However, righteousness is not your thought, it is God’s. It is a far different and better thing to ‘take one on the chin’ for what God thinks than simply for what you might think. Jesus went on to say; Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who went before you. Interestingly enough the apostle Peter also chimed in on this same additional thought. 1 Peter 4:12-14 reads, Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing has happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
So the next time you are having a conversation with someone and your spirit inside of you is in turmoil, don’t try to see how you can fit their ignorance into your faith, determine to be ready to give a kind and gentle, but unwavering answer as to why you believe in The Righteous Stuff. If it doesn’t seem to go well…no worries, it actually did. God cannot and will not be in your debt. He has promised that your reward from Him will exceedingly outweigh any persecution you have endured for Him.
So now, determining to always stand for The Righteous Stuff. For Christ’s sake…Go be awesome!