Friday, November 23, 2012
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I was in one of those "big box" stores over the weekend - and Santa was strolling the aisles wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. I told my wife, "It was fun to see Santa. I was just a little surprised to see him carrying pepper spray on his belt." (Okay, I made that part up.) But the thought never would have occurred to me, except for that crazy Black Friday and all the headlines. People getting pushed, punched, sprayed, hospitalized, and even shot - all in the frenzy to get some coveted item cheap.
Well, there was this image on a news organization's website that was almost laughable - if it weren't more sad than funny. Pictures captioned with the day's major headlines kept rotating across my screen. First came the photo of pre-dawn bargain-hunters massing outside the store - caption: "Shoppers Show Up in Droves." Next picture - hundreds of thousands of Egyptians massing in a square in their capitol city, and it said: "Crowd Swells in Cairo's Tahrir Square."
You're right! They were there trying to bring down at that time a dictator. I smiled - and then I sobered - at the contrast. One crowd fighting for bargains. Another crowd fighting for freedom. I was ready to put those pictures side-by-side with the caption of my own: "So what are you fighting for?"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Black Friday Battles."
I'm not against bargains. I like them. But the contrasting agendas of those Black Friday crowds were reminders to make sure that I'm investing myself in the battles that really matter. Even though there are less important battles that constantly jockey for my attention and for my time.
We find our lives filled with the pursuit of more house, more money, more Facebook friends, more fun, more title, more commitments, more sports, more gadgets, more entertainment. We dance to the music of a culture that tells us what we must have, what we must see and do. We put our energies more into having than giving, into activity - more than relationships, into maintaining church programs - more than moving out to reach people who are clueless about our Jesus.
Christians choose to define themselves by the 10% that divides them rather than the 90% that unites them. Couples fight over petty differences instead of fighting for their marriage. Relationships between family, friends, business people often focus on the insignificant rather than what really matters and really is important. Church folks fight over music styles and personal slights instead of fighting for the lost and for the hurting people just across town.
Jesus said to stop running after all these "temporaries" that possess the lives of people who live like this world is all there is. And our word for today from the Word of God says, in Matthew 6:32-33, "seek first the kingdom of God." In other words, the things that God thinks are worth living for and fighting for. Like the hard work of a happy marriage, strong relationships, building kids who gave a Jesus of their own. Like the ever-living, never-dying souls of the people you know, and the powerless and broken people who break the heart of Jesus and ought to break ours.
I love this high tribute to David, the "man after God's own heart." It says, "He fights the Lord's battles" (1 Samuel 25:28). After all, those are the only ones worth fighting.