Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seeking the Kingdom

One of my favorite quotes of St. Paul is

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. - Gal. 1:10

Once we become "servants of Christ", or "slaves of Christ", we must leave off seeking to please men.

Naturally, we must still be respectful and prudent and charitable in our dealings with them.  But we must stop being "man pleasers", toadies, obsequious boot-lickers.  And more than that.  We should be willing to speak the truth with mercy, even if it ticks a few people off.

This is hard, especially for actors.  We have such a built-in hunger for applause.  We want so badly to please people and get them to like us.

Or for salesmen.  Most salesman want to get the sale at all costs, even if they make promises that Operations cannot keep.

And yet behind the curtain the actor will say, "We killed them tonight!" and he will often speak with a certain disdain for the audience whose approval he seeks so desperately.

And have you ever chatted with a salesman about his prospects?  Hardly an attitude of Christian charity, in most cases.  A salesman, like a lady-killer or a vixen, is primarily seeking conquest.  How much can you care even for the people you're trying to please if your main goal is to conquer them or "knock 'em dead" in some way?

The great irony is that the more we try to please others, the more we end up resenting the people whose approval we depend upon.

So the Apostle and the saints are right when they speak of keeping your eye on something far off, of seeking first the Kingdom and trusting that all other things will be added, of yearning not for the passing pleasures of this life, but for the eternal land of the New City.

Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them. - Heb. 11:13-16

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