Monday, April 19, 2010

It Was The Summer of the Squirt Guns

I have a very fun family. It wasn’t an uncommon sight at my house for someone to be in a water fight or get thrown into the pool. It wouldn’t take long for the fight to spill over onto the entire family at gatherings. You would think anywhere indoors would be off limits, but that thought would be wrong. One of my earliest memories was my dad taking the jug of water that was always kept in the refrigerator to my mom in our living room and pouring it over her head.

There was one particular summer there was a water gun war in which I started. I was probably somewhere in my tween years. It started with what was called a “Zap-It” gun. I bought it at our local Meijer store back when the store was so small it was in a plaza. The “Zap-It” gun was this gun that came with ink that would eventually disappear on whatever it would be sprayed on. So for a few weekends I ran around spraying everyone. Then my dad decided he’d go and buy a squirt gun. But my dad doesn’t do anything half way. He goes and finds a battery powered automatic squirt gun. Then my sister couldn’t very well be defenseless. She goes and buys a battery powered automatic squirt gun, but hers had side tanks that you were supposedly able to wear as back up. I’m sure other things happened that summer. But what I remember is water fights breaking out all the time. I remember my aunt dragging the hose for her own defense. I remember the feel of grassy soil under my bare feet as we ran around the house in pursuit of another family member.

Competition isn’t such a bad thing, we had fun that summer. But when in leaks in subtle ways into the church it can get us all out of order. Most of us think that competition in church can just be about physical things. So and so got this car and now I want it and am going to get a better one. But no, it can also happen in spiritual ways too. So and so got something prophetically in prayer so someone else things they need to get something better. So they try to conjure a word or vision. Someone got promoted and you didn’t so you think that you need to get a better position. Someone in the church is getting a blessing where they’ve worked hard for and others are so jealous that they feel the need to run their mouth about the person because deep down they want what the blessing without all the work. It happens all the time in churches.

Paul says in Philippians 1:15 (Message) “It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.”

It’s sad to say, but many times in the body this is exactly how we see out brothers and sisters in the Lord. We see them as our competition. As if we’re in some cosmic spiritual dodge ball game and it’s our job to be more spiritual than the person beside us.

This is the wrong way of thinking. God sees what motivates us as people. He knows what we’re thinking even if everyone else doesn’t.

The definition of love according to 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 is, “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”

Jesus instructed us in Luke 10:27 (MSG) “He said, "That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself."

We cannot say we “love” our neighbor as ourselves if we are so caught up in a competitive “me first” mentality. That is not unity. That is fake unity. That is pretending to play a part. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 says, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.”

It’s time that everyone checks their motives. Be honest with yourself. There is no sense of pretending because God sees the truth. Are we really walking in love with our neighbors or are we caught up in the spiritual competition? I have news for you, that competition is a never ending cycle. You can’t win.

God doesn’t want us to be in a spiritual competition with each other. We’re all on different paths. We all have different callings and destinies. If you are so caught up in beating out everyone you will miss your destiny. You won’t get to where God needs you to be in this life. You’ll continue to go in circles and wonder why everyone else seems to be getting blessed and your not. Stop the cycle today. Realize your destiny and your walk is as individual as you. You cannot run someone else’s race. You have to focus on your own.

God desires his people to walk in unity. He wants his people genuinely love each other, and encourage one another. He wants ALL his people to thrive. Be encouraged today to run the course that your on. You’ll be glad you did.

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