How to avoid spiritual bankruptcy in a success driven age. jesus Without Religion.
Copyright - Tim Crawshaw.
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The meaning of life in Western secular society is to be successful. Apparently with success comes the promise of happiness and fulfilment.
Money, fame, power, good looks, status and luxury brands are the indicators of mainstream success and these are exploited relentlessly by the media and advertising companies. People are conditioned to believe that they can only feel happy, good about themselves and truly experience life if they have these things.
This is one big lie.
Conditioning like this traps many people in a mindset of conditional happiness, love and self worth which they are never able to escape. This information will show you how to avoid or become free of this way of thinking and enable you to have your life transformed!
Jesus Christ said, “What good is it for a person to gain the whole world yet forfeit their soul?" (Mark 8:36). Success, Jesus says, can come at a price. What is the point in having success if one has to give up who they truly are to have it and essentially become an actor; someone who is always performing? Jesus came presenting a spiritual alternative to a life of worldly success that involved amassing wealth, self obsession and keeping up with the Jones’. He said that he had come to show us the way, give us “life to the full” and to reveal that there is more to life than just what our senses tell us in the physical world (John 10:10). He taught about the Kingdom of God/Heaven which is the term that he used to describe the spiritual realm that is polar opposite to the social physical world we live in. He said that we can choose to live in God's kingdom right now here on Earth if we follow him and that we will enjoy a host of benefits that can not be purchased with money for any price if we do.
Until you can understand and see the differences between the physical world we live in and the spiritual realm of the Kingdom of God, you will not see Jesus’ relevance or understand what he was talking about.
From his teachings we can draw up a list of comparisons between the two. See Below:
God - Light. World - Darkness.
God - Unconditional Love. World - Conditional Love.
God - True/Real Self. World - False Self.
God - Eternal Life. World - Limited Life.
God - Forgiving. World - Unforgiving.
God - Divine Plan For Your Life. World - Create Your Own Destiny.
God - Truth. World - Deceit.
God - Service to Others. World - Power, Domination.
God - Gentle. World - Forceful.
God - Love. World - Fear.
God - Divine Strength in You. World - Your Own Animal/Physical Strength.
God - Peace. World - Stress.
God - Altruism. World - Always Want Something Back.
God - No Limits. World - Limitation.
God - Others First. World - Self First.
God - Dependence on God. World - Dependence on Self.
When a person allows Jesus Christ to be the center of their lives, their identity and way of life corresponds with Kingdom of God ways. They become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and experience a new kind of spiritual freedom. Their old self (world self) is left behind. If a person does not receive Jesus Christ they are often unable to move beyond their physical or ego self and become separated from the Kingdom of God. The bible refers to this as being in the "flesh".
Because we are so influenced by our senses it is easy to be deceived or tempted by things in the world that are not good for us spiritually. Consumerism is a human creation that can potentially take us off track from our spiritual growth. A lot of companies devise deceitful marketing strategies with their products to trick people into buying things that they do not really need. After being saturated with advertisements people start believing that success, happiness or fulfilment can only be found in things outside of themselves in products and services. Corporations thrive on keeping people in a mindset of conditional self worth and happiness that can only be alleviated through buying their products. Typical attitudes expressed by people sucked into this way of thinking might include, "when I get that luxury car I will be happy", or "when I get my nose job, I will be able to like myself". Some people get trapped in this lifestyle their entire lives and don't develop spiritually at all.
Western society conditions us to put ourselves first. Because of the value placed on individual materialistic success in our world we are often surrounded by people primarily interested in getting something. There is a clear world imbalance between the amount of people “out for themselves” and “out to help others”. Jesus came with a clear message about this kind of living and part of his job on Earth was to educate us about servant hood. To be the greatest spiritually in God’s eyes Jesus said we have to be servants. This is contrary to the worlds mindset of perceiving the need to become famous and conquering to become great. BELOW are some words from Jesus about serving in the gospels.
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. Mark 10:43
You shall love your neighbour as yourself. Matthew 19:19
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:12-14
Jesus' sacrifice of himself in the crucifixion was to demonstrate that he was a servant of the highest level (Philippians 2:7-9).
Like today, people were chasing wealth, accumulating luxury items and perfecting the ultimate lifestyle for themselves in Jesus' day too. Read what Jesus had to say about how God felt about this kind of approach to life in the Parable of the Rich Fool.
The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops'. Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' 'This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.' Luke 12:13-21
Excessive personal wealth not shared was considered selfish by Jesus as he pointed out in the Parable of the
Rich Fool. He was keen to see the wealth of the world during and after his life on Earth shared with the poor. Today, about 800 million people still don't have enough food to eat. Many people love to blame God for this but there are more than enough resources on this planet to end suffering like poverty. It is greed and selfishness that prevents the sharing of resources with those who need it.
Jesus said the human heart is more important than material possessions:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
Part of the treasure in heaven that Jesus talks about is the feeling of purpose and life satisfaction a person has when they know they are performing the will of God. People who put themselves and money first often complain about life feeling empty and meaningless. What they thought would bring happiness turns out to be disappointing. Jesus pays those who serve him and others with spiritual blessings in their lives generally before money. God will also give people wealth to serve and use for his purposes if it forms part of his will.
People who follow Jesus believe that if we align with God's plan for our lives we become servants to him which generally means becoming more like Jesus. It is our ego that says "stuff you God, I'm doing my own thing". This is very easy to do with all the physical pleasures the world has to offer. Creating our own destiny in is often synonymous with creating a fake self. Fulfilling God's plan for our lives is aligning with our true self which is the eternal part of God in us. Jesus says, "seek first the Kingdom of God and everything will be added to you" (Matthew 6:32-33). Jesus is saying put him and God first to receive "treasure in heaven" for your soul, not money and worldly things that our egos crave. He says that he will sort out the physical things that we require if we put God first, we just have to trust him (Matthew 6:25-33).
Read the story about the rich young ruler who approaches Jesus for advice:
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God." Luke 18:20-25
Jesus knew how much this man's identity and self worth was wound up in his possessions. He wanted him to make a transition from the physical to the spiritual, from the ways of the world to the ways of the Kingdom of God. Only when he gave away everything would he find out that God would fill the gap with spiritual "treasure in heaven" within his soul and prompt him to realise that his real identity is eternal and interwoven into the spiritual fabric of God not his earthly possessions. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus teaches that being poor has spiritual advantages, "blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 5:3).
People who don't have earthly things to distract them are able to focus more easily on the ways of God. A person cannot grow spiritually if they just focus on the physical world and how it can serve them, nor can God use them for his purposes.
One of the biggest things that prevents people following Jesus is low income and poor social status in serving work. The media and society generally gives little attention or value to service careers such as social work and even less to ministry roles. They are far more interested in covering the high flyers of the business and celebrity world; their fame, power and riches. Consider though all the unhappy rich people with fame, titles and positions of power who have every material possession available to them. They have the "success" but are spiritually bankrupt because their souls have been neglected. Pick up any women's magazine to see how dysfunctional the lives of people who apparently have everything are. Despite all the dysfunction, millions of celebrity onlookers wish that they had what the stars had and attempt to emulate them where they can with fashion and other things at the expense of their own identity.
Following Jesus often requires stepping out of a security conscious mindset into an attitude of "everything will be provided" if you just follow. Jesus knows fully well that many people are not cut out to follow him spiritually. In his "Parable of the Sower" (Matthew 13:18), Jesus states that people hear his message, often with joy but fail to live out the message because of the "deceitfulness" that accompanies wealth. He also says that the cares of the world and tribulation will cause people to fall away from him when things get too hard. If you can hang in there, Jesus says your impact for God through him will be magnified and you will metaphorically produce a large crop for his kingdom and be rewarded (Matthew 13 & 16:27).
The Western world puts too much emphasis on what a person does in terms of monetary value and social status as opposed to who they are as people. God cares about who we are primarily, not what we do and does not associate a financial figure with the value of our lives. He has given us free will to choose his ways or the ways of the world. He did this because it is not in his character to force relationship on us. By giving us a choice he would know who would truly belong to him. The world does everything it can to take us away from God and blind us to what is really spiritually important. Reading the bible (especially the New Testament) can help us learn God's ways and keep us inspired and rooted in Kingdom of Heaven reality.
A relationship with Jesus Christ allows us to be ourselves which in turn gives us confidence to show who we really are to others. The unconditional love that God gives us when we are in relationship with him frees us and sustains us; we no longer feel the need to prove ourselves according to worldly standards, instead we allow the fruits of God's kingdom such as love to be released from the inside out of us.
Selfishness is the enemy of serving others. Jesus Christ, the ultimate servant, showed concern for others in a way never seen before. From him we know that God wants us to serve others before satisfying the self-indulgent demands of our egos which often includes the desire for fame and accumulating excessive wealth. Jesus' disciple John said that everyone born of God overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). The information you have read in this book will help equip you to do just that.