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Like the prodigal son, my mind wanders recklessly into a far country when I pray. In moments of solitude when I am just getting close to God, my brain shifts into gear and speeds off down the freeway.
God has allowed me to pray in some unusual places and with some wonderfully interesting and lovely people, but I don’t know that I had ever seen mouths drop open in shock during a time of prayer until I told someone that I could not pray for their request. We were trying to share Christ and our prayer needs with each other, so I know that I seemed to be out of line.
We must be careful to remember the powerful doctrine of the imago Dei --the fact that all people are created in the image of their Maker. I choose the word "are" since it’s particularly important to understand that the Fall didn’t cancel our image-bearing status. Yes, sin severely distorted our once perfect reflection of God, but the Fall did not totally cancel our divine reflection. Consequently, one of the strange truths of the doctrine of the imago Dei states: “How you treat any person is the same as how you treat God.” The inverse is also valid, because of the impact of imago Dei: “How we treat God is how we treat others.”
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. - Matthew 6:24
A frequent theme in Jesus’ teaching is that God requires complete devotion. Anything less is idolatry, and it is destructive. Complete devotion, however, is hard . . . very hard. We all want a purpose larger than ourselves; we want to live for something significant. But we also want to live for something tangible. Many times God seems invisible. His purpose is often concealed and mysterious. It is much easier to let our hearts drift back to the visible and tangible; possessions, power, others, and most often ourselves. Our heart’s purpose and passion whether tangible or intangible, visible or invisible, is where our treasure lies.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “When the Romans erected the statue of Christ and put it up in their Pantheon, saying that He should be one among their gods, their homage was worthless. When they turned their heads first to Jupiter, then to Venus, then to Jesus, they did no honor to our Lord; they did but dishonor Him. Their service was not acceptable. And so if you imagine in your heart that you can sometimes serve God and sometimes serve self and be your own master, you have made a mistake.”
Every moment, every word, every choice is a deposit either heavenly or earthly. Our deposits are our treasure: our affections and efforts to honor God or our efforts to live by the world’s standards. Never both, only one or the other. Jesus’ statement about “treasures in heaven” refers to the rewards we will get at the Judgment when we stand before Him. On that day, every word we have said and deed we have done for selfish reasons will burn up, and everything we have said and done for Christ will be rewarded by God.
Jesus said in Mathew 6:21, “ For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” What we value the most, hold on to the tightest, have the most passion and love for – this is our treasure.
We can serve only one master: us or God. We are devoted to one, and our choices show that we don’t value one as highly as the other. No matter how much we say we value Christ, we can look at our attitudes, energy, schedules, and finances to find out what we really value. They tell the real story.
Does this mean that we can’t be involved in anything but ministry? Can a devoted disciple of Christ go into business or nursing or teaching or any other profession to which God leads us? Certainly, but with a different goal in mind. Our goal will be to seek to please God and not ourselves. Our goal in any profession should be to glorify God. Work “as unto the Lord,” and daily live out obedience to Him. This will show up in what we talk about, what we get excited about, and how we handle difficulties. If we honor Christ and above all else, value Him in all these things, we’ll stand out like a lighthouse to those around us. Pastors, deacons, teachers, and ministry leaders are not exempt from this either. We must constantly check our motives and focus on who we serve – not on our ministries.
The hottest topic in churches around Houston is the subpoenas that were served upon Houston pastor’s by the mayor. Naturally, this ignites fiery conversations about our first amendment right to free speech, as well as the separation of church and state. But rather than simply grow angry over this situation, let’s do something about it.