Last weekend our pastor made a statement that I’ve been ruminating on this last week: “What you focus on determines how you feel.” You almost can’t hear the news these days without hearing that people are very emotional about pretty much anything happening in the world, their community and family. College kids seem to need “safe spaces” to emote. People seem to focus on their perceived needs, and when they aren’t met they lash out at the other side of the spectrum with a great vitriol. And as far as I can see, these “needs” are focused on an earthly and sinful life. Unfortunately, this isn’t only used on nameless pronouns, it is dividing families.
As Christians, our focus should be on the Lord. “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming.” (1 Peter 1:13) The imminent return of Christ should motivate us to live for Him, not ourselves or our perceived emotional needs. This means being mentally “alert”, disciplined (“fully sober”) and focused (“set your hope”).
People seem to be angry that others aren’t embracing their sinful lifestyles. But we are called to be holy–set apart– from the sinful world. “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.'” (1 Pet. 1:14-16) Our Lord is holy–He sets the standard for morality. Unlike the Roman gods, He is not warlike, adulterous, or spiteful. Unlike the gods of the pagan cults popular in the first century, He is not bloodthirsty or promiscuous. He is a God of mercy and justice who cares personally for each of His followers. Our holy God expects us to imitate Him by following His high moral standards. Like Him, we should be both merciful and just; like Him, we should sacrifice ourselves for others.
People seem to be self-focused on what they want. And when they don’t get what they want (and have others condone their feelings or actions), the vitriol explodes in rioting and hate-filled speech. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:1-3) We aren’t to be self-focused; we are to focus on the Lord and serving His kingdom.
We are definitely living in a fallen world. When we are set apart from the world, the world try to hurt us for not agreeing with their sin. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) But through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, we are able to live a holy life, not by our power, but through His. God has made available all that we need spiritually through our knowledge of Him. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Pet. 1:3-4)
Do you want to feel loved? Focus on the one who loves you unconditionally and greater than we can truly fathom. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)