“It’s not about the money, money, money
We don’t need your money, money, money
We just wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag”
And so the lyrics of Jessis J’s hit song Price Tag have been running through my mind of late as I try to match the lyric to the billion dollar industry where it’s all about the money, where extravagance is where it’s at, where the cult of celebrity strives to accumulate more and more stuff to gain popularity, success and ultimately happiness.
But does money = happiness, is that ultimately what it’s all about? As MTV seeks not just to influence but “own” this generation are the values it sells us true, or are we being sold a lie?
Are we just PEOPLE, or are we JUST people?
We’ve spent the last 6 weeks at YF looking through the Tearfund resource Just People, looking at what scripture has to say on the matters of justice / poverty and our response as followers of Christ. And I admit it’s greatly challenged me afresh as I’ve reflected on how it’s right throughout the storyline of scripture from Genesis to Revelation, was a focal point of Jesus ministry here on earth, is to be an expression of our worship of God and indeed right at the heart of the gospel message.
These words from Micah 6:8 have been ringing in my ear as i’ve thought through these issues and explored it further
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?”
Justice is more than an optional add-on to our faith, something good that we do. It’s at the heart of the gospel, an expression of our worship and evidences the reality of the life changing grace we have received in Christ. And it’s not an issue on which I can quietly sit on the fence and remain indifferent. As Desmond Tutu puts it “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
When Christians stay silent it sends out a wrong – yet very clear – message about Jesus: we’re telling people that he doesn’t care. Has this been the message that’s been ringing out in my daily lifestyle choices as I traverse the paths of this global;y connected village where my neighbour is not just across the street, but is equally on the other side of the world?
The diseases of consumerism and materialism that plague western society are crippling the poor and disadvantaged of society, that’s the stark reality that I can easily numb down in my mind because it makes me feel uncomfortable. As Coldplay put it in their hit track Clocks : “Am I part of the cure, or am I part of the disease”.
So am I meant to feel guilty, wrestle with this in my head and bemoan the fact that it’s something that’s just too big for me to do anything about? Or am I going to do something about it? Again the words of Micah 6:8 ring in my ears “and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?“.
I’ve found the following video produced by Tearfund useful in giving me practical ways I can seek to develop a rhythm of justice in my daily choices that can make a difference not just for me, but for others in this global village that i’m connected into.
And so I begin the journey of trying to flesh this out in my daily life, making this a reality in my living and not just something I read about, talk about, am impacted by but ultimately do nothing about. Here goes, care to join me…………..
Discipline seems to be abit of a dirty word these days, it’s often said the “youth of today” are lacking in discipline and respect for authority, and there’s an element of truth in that statement. But as with many statements like this, discipline is a virtue that is better caught than taught, and how have we embodied these values and passed them onto the next generation? Submerged in a culture that revels in sin, promotes single-mindedness and celebrates ill-discipline it takes significant effort for us, never mind young people, to go against the flow and choose to dance to a different beat than the culture we swim in. As a DISCIPLE of Christ, a youthworker who seeks to influence the next generation for Him, how am I SUBMITTING myself to His DISCIPLINE in my life, how am I DISCIPLINING myself to live counter-culturally and resist the sin that prevails in the society in which I am to be an AMBASSADOR.
Sadly alot of our churches have maybe tradionally taken the religious position of BEHAVE, BELIEVE, BELONG in their approach to reaching teenagers : come to our programmes, behave in a way we find acceptable, believe what we tell you and at some stage you will be accepted and therefore belong. But the counter-cultural gospel of grace as demonstrated by Christ flips this approach completely on it’s head, insisting that first we find our BELONGING and sense of worth and value in Him, as a result we come to BELIEVE in his all sufficient act of salvation on the cross, taking the place of our sin, and then with His help we begin to BEHAVE in a way which brings honour and glory to Him. We no longer desire to remain in our sin dead lives, but rather seek to live afresh in response to the His Amazing Grace that saved a wretch like me.
As I read his word I realise that I am to surrender myself to His discipline as a son submits to the discipline of a loving father who wants the best for him, and as a result I am changed.
Proverbs 3:11-12 (MSG) “11 But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline; don’t sulk under his loving correction.12 It’s the child he loves that God corrects; a father’s delight is behind all this.”
I am also to begin a journey as his disciple, and that involves disciplining myself to resist the sinful desires of my human nature, and strive for the holiness that brings glory to the Saviour who has saved me. Paul in his writings likens it to an athlete training for a race, or a boxer training for a fight, and the discipline required to keep their body in prime condition as they strain for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (MSG) “26 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!27 I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
So am I leading a DISCIPLINED life as I progress along this journey as a DISCIPLE of Christ? That’s the challenge I’ve been left to ponder over recent months, what about you?