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Not Everyone Sees the World Like I Do

If 2020 taught me anything, it taught me that not everyone sees the world like I do and not everyone sees the world like you do, either.  That's why 2020 was a year full of zeal...zealous protests, zealous politicians, and zealous opinions.  

 Zeal, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing, but we must check our focus.  Romans 12:11 teaches to "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Should we be zealous?  Yes.  Jesus was zealous with His words, with His love, and with His actions.  Remember when He turned over the tables in the temple?  That was a snapshot of His zeal.  

Romans 12:11 doesn't give us a permission slip for unfiltered, unhinged zeal though.  In fact, it gives us the clear directive to be zealous spiritually as we serve the Lord.  This is the zeal that Jesus displayed.  His zeal was always centered on God's truth and God's will.

Can you say the same about your zeal?  If not look out, your zeal could soon lose it's appeal.  When does zeal lose it’s appeal?  When we stop serving the Lord with it.   When we replace our spiritual fervor with the zeal of an activist, the zeal of a political position, or the zeal of a personal opinion.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we aren’t just to be zealous, but to be SPIRITUALLY ZEALOUS - serving the Lord.  This zeal is appealing both to God and to the watching world around us.

How do we know if we have SPIRITUAL FERVOR that SERVES the LORD’s CAUSES and PURPOSE?

1.  Check Your Expectations
We can’t expect the world to have the same standards as the church, but we should expect the church to have a different response than the world.  When we see the world do things that don't line up with Biblical truth, don't be shocked or surprised.  In fact, you should expect it.  Listen to Paul's warning about what is to come in the days ahead, "13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" 2 Timothy 3:13.  

As I like to put it, we should expect our world to go from bad to worse to worser before Jesus returns.  When you have this worldview, that doesn't mean that you just throw up your hands and not challenge the culture, but it does remind you what you should be doing in the midst of this jacked up world.    Paul teaches us in Romans 12 what we should be doing "14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another..." Romans 12:14-16.   Now, that is a different response than by natural response.  Blessing others event when they hurt or harm us and feeling what they feel so that we live in harmony takes intentionality.  It takes you and me regaining the lost character trait of empathy.  Instead of zealously running to our extremes, we can love God and love people differently.

2.  Check Your Heart
We must keep a constant eye on our heart.  When we feel our blood pressure rise and our anxiety grow, we need to pay attention to that.  We need to unplug to make sure that our heart and our responses to others are centered in the Word of God.  Never forget this:  We can love the world without embracing the values or methods of the world.

If we aren't careful, we will find ourselves in the midst of a dangerous progression like we see in 2 Timothy 4, "3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."  2 Timothy 4:3

We will allow our misaligned zeal to pull us away from God's truth and we will turn our attention to people who say what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.  The end game of this progression leads to a total disconnect from truth.

The Bible warns multiple times against getting focused on God-less myths and vain conspiracy theories because they are the wrong foundation for your life.  Why would you build your life on the shifting sand when you can build it on the rock?  A wrong focus on myths and conspiracy theories kill our witness.  The world already thinks that the message of Jesus is a myth - a grand conspiracy.  When we spread gossip, myths, and conspiracies, we only add to their objections.  Jesus says that we are salt and light.  We are building our lives on His truth and we illuminate the world around us, for His glory.  Never settle for anything less.  

How do you do that?  Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 4:5,  "5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."  Keep your head.  Endure hardship.  Never forget that you ultimate purpose as a disciple is to reach people for Jesus and to serve God with all of your life.

3.  Check Your Outcomes
Is your zeal rightly focused?  Look and see how it is impacting others.   What is your wake at work?  What is your wake in your friendship circles?  What is your social media wake?  How are you affecting others?  It's important to check outcomes more than intentions.  Few intend to hurt, harm, or divide, but it happens.  That's why we should always be on guard, "21 Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good."  ROMANS 12:21.  We should strive for not just good intentions, but good methods and good outcomes.

So the question shifts from "How can I get my point across?" to "How can I bring good to the conversation?"   What “good” can I do to be a blessing even to people who don’t look like me, believe like me, or vote like me?  What “good” can come of this.
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