This year our second child entered Kindergarten. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into that moment. While we buy their supplies and carefully choose their bookbags and lunchbox, we also want them to be equipped to have an excellent start to their educational journey.
Some of my friends teach Kindergarten. It’s been fascinating to hear them talk about parents and their interactions with them. One of my friends noticed a few years ago, “My parents don’t ask about their child’s academic progress anymore. They only seem interested in asking how their kid is doing socially. ‘Are they making friends?’ and ‘Do they play well with others?’ are the questions I regularly hear.”
I think there’s a very innate desire for us as parents to want our kids to do well with other kids. I think this is amplified by a culture that isn’t very good socially anymore.
We teach our kids not to bully, but we’re bullies about our opinions online.
We teach our kids to be kind to others, but we’re unkind to people who hold different beliefs and perspectives.
We teach our kids to respect us as parents and teachers as leaders in our classrooms, but we consistently are looking for what’s wrong in our bosses, our Pastors, and our governmental leaders.
We teach our kids to include other kids, especially those that are different, but we consistently reject people who are different and find safety in the company of those who are likeminded.
We teach our kids to be empathetic when others aren’t doing well, but like vultures, we too often are found feeding on the failures of others.
Why is it that we know that our kids need to know how to navigate relationships in a life-giving way, but we neglect to see that we, as adults, need the exact same thing?
How We Got Hijacked.
There’s a lot to be said about the social setting of our story.
We now live in an era where we can talk face-to-face worldwide. When I was a kid that only existed on the Jetsons (an old, futuristic cartoon for those who are younger). Now my kids know that their Dad can FaceTime them wherever he finds himself out of town.
We are more connected than ever, but more isolated than ever, too. The internet has created an avenue for us to share our opinions and stories faster than ever before. Two hundred years ago we’d hear significant news weeks later. Now we can watch as it happens.
This capacity to share our thoughts with an electronic update has changed our approach to information sharing, too. These days it’s very easy to find people that share our perspective and embolden us to promote our thoughts.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as we’ve retreated deeper into our tribes, the voices that are sharing dissenting opinions have grown quieter. This leaves us feeling like those who are different are more marginalized than they might be, and emboldens us to believe that most people think the way we do.
Today we offer our critiques from a distance on a thousand things we know nothing about and feel validated that our opinions deserve the attention of other people.
What Are You Living For?
Science would suggest that we, as humans, are animals by nature. And… Given our current context, there’s a lot to prove this. We seem to reject our weak, be very concerned with power and power structures, and be more focused on our differences than our similarities.
Animals live with one underlying motivation: desires trigger a response. They are hungry, so they find food. They tired, so they rest. They are afraid, so they attack. They are intimidated, so they run.
Animals live in response to their desires.
I’m afraid that we, too often, do the same.
We perceive that someone insults us, so we desire revenge. We start to talk negatively about these people at home, then with our coworkers and friends, and then, inevitably, online.
We see someone make a huge mistake that has vast, negative consequences in their life. What do we do? We share it, chew on it, text our friends about it, and celebrate the fall of another.
Too often, we’re responding to the worst desires that exist in our soles.
In Galatians 5, the Scriptures encourage us to “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your flesh.” (Galatians 5:16-17)
There is a part of you that is animalistic, a part that attacks the weak, that holds a grudge, that’s self-centered and self-concerned, and that doesn’t value others well.
But there’s a better way.
And choosing that way means choosing to live differently.
You Can’t Do What You Want To Do.
You want revenge. You want to gossip. You want things to go your way. You will honestly continue to want those things.
But… you cannot do what you want to do.
The Scriptures tell us that, “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not allowed to do whatever you want.
You can share that negative post on Facebook. You can post that embarrassing review on Yelp. You can do those things.
But can you do those things and follow Jesus at the same time?
The life of Jesus is simple.
Jesus came with one goal, and that wasn’t a cross. The cross was a means by which He accomplished this goal.
Why did Jesus live?
He announced his public ministry with these words (quoting the prophet Isaiah): “”The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17
Notice the object of the message that Jesus is declaring. Can you see what His life is being lived for? Can you see that target, the goal?
Let me make this simple… Jesus lived FOR PEOPLE!
This is the great invitation He gives us today: To leave behind a selfish reason for living that declares that life owes me something and pursue a life that is remarkably unselfish and not overly self-concerned.
It’s impossible to follow Jesus and not be FOR PEOPLE!
Let’s Do Better.
Instead of complaining about bad service at a restaurant and posting that negative review, maybe we look beyond the negative experience and see the server that’s struggling to provide for her kids as a single mom.
Instead of complaining about that coworker that’s always bragging about their kids, maybe we choose to see a parent that’s involved in their kid’s life, a parent that loves their kid, and realize that this is something to be celebrated.
Where there is offense, give grace.
Where there is hurt, offer forgiveness.
Where there is pain, seek out healing.
Why? Because the life of Jesus alive in us should always be FOR PEOPLE!
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What’s one way you’ve blown it and need to work on living FOR PEOPLE?