I work a lot with University students. The nice thing you get to see when working with students is a lot of anticipation and hope for the future. Almost every student thinks they will have a great future. It is rare to meet a student who thinks, once they graduate, they will live a mundane meaningless life. They all want to be the top dog, the highest on the corporate ladder, and have everything needed to make them comfortable.
Sadly, this is the lie of culture. These students, like many of us, have believed that the higher position you are the happier you will be. Or the more stuff you own the more pleasurable your life will be. However, time after time we find that this is just the opposite. The more you have the more you want. The higher you climb the more you want to see the top. And once you get there, then what?
Now I am not saying that it is bad to try your best. Being a CEO is not a sin, (well sometimes it could be depending on how exactly you work as a CEO). In fact, we are told to work in all things as if we are working for God, (Colossians 3:23-24). So to work hard and to try your best is not a bad thing at all.
The problem is, we have made it our focus and our goal. Rather than working as to glorify and honor the Lord, we are working to glorify ourselves or to make more money to live the opulent life we think will bring us joy. While this longing for more is good, (I believe it is an actual longing that can only be filled by the Lord), we have decided to stuff it with temporary, worldly pleasures.
As C.S. Lewis once said:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Now let’s consider an alternative Kingdom. This Kingdom does not consider your high position but rather considers your humility and service to others, (Matthew 20:25-27). This Kingdom doesn’t care how much you own but rather focuses more on how much you give away, (Luke 18:22). In fact, the King of this Kingdom was a homeless servant who gave his life for his people, (Mark 10:45). This is the Kingdom of God.
And because of sin we have exchanged this amazing Kingdom and King for lesser pleasures offered to us by the world. So I want to challenge us all in two ways.
First, for non-Christians, are you really finding joy in your life? Is the constant struggle to climb the ladder of success and to live a more comfortable life really bringing you peace, joy and love? My guess is if you really examine yourself and your situation, it’s probably not. That longing you have for greatness is a longing to know the King. Rather then continue to believe the lie that says you are the King, will you realize that Up is Down and Less is More? Will you come to Jesus, in humility, and confess your sins and serve the True King?
For Christians my challenge is for us to make God’s Kingdom visible here on the Earth. The early Church did just that.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” -Acts 2:42-47
Can we Christians live in such a way as to show the world God’s Kingdom? Can we truly believe that pleasure and joy in God is far greater than any pleasure possibly offered here on earth? Yes Christians, we agree with these statements, yet our lives rarely reflect it. We say Jesus is Lord and spend more time and money on ourselves than serving our King. Your time and money will point you to who you serve. Christians, does your life reflect that of Jesus or do you merely give whatever scraps you have left from yourself to your King?
So may we all see that bigger is not always better and more is not always all that it’s cracked up to be. May we stop playing with mud when the beach is available to us. May we stop exchanging true joy for fleeting pleasures. Instead, may we follow our King’s example. May we humble ourselves just as he humbled himself and give just as he gave, (Philippians 2:6-8). May we live as if we are residents of God’s Kingdom rather than Satan’s.