Thursday, 19 July 2012

Pick your battles, know your purpose, trust your Lord

This news story prompts a thought on some of the wisdom that Jesus teaches:

One can easily understand the couple's point of view. To have so many people using a lay-by, within site of their front door, as a urinal irritated them deeply.

But in the view of the judge, this annoyance became an obsession. Objectively, they spent six figures upon it. And they lost.

Life is full of annoyances and petty grievances. The inconsiderate actions of others can build up until they feel like a running sore. And then they can eat up our thoughts, time and other resources.

Unsaved people have no anchor in life to give them stability through these various winds. They know of no ultimate over-riding narrative of reality that they are part of. They do not know themselves as soldiers in a cosmic warfare. They do not have a higher, uplifting force to help them rise above the troubles, overwhelming or petty, of life in a fallen world.

A Christian soldier on the other hand, can simply accept that the soldier's life will have various distractions, which are precisely that - distractions. They play upon our pride, that somehow we deserve an easy ride, and others should be smoothing the way. They should be handed over to God in prayer, and we should seek grace to practice a joyful, submissive response to them. You can accept that life in a fallen world cannot be fair, and that it is actually much better than sinners such as ourselves deserve; that our duty is not to see if others are making sure we have no annoyances, but rather to serve without questioning what rations and commissions our Lord gives us. We can believe that the risen Christ has given us jewels of far greater beauty than any passing troubles in the gospel, and that in the world to come all the inconveniences of the pilgrimage and warfare of this life will not even be memories, so far will they be gone. And if you find that you are too weak to rise above them in this manner, then you can move elsewhere and accept the temporary inconvenience of the move in exchange for removing the long-term distraction.

But if you and your little life is all there is, then you can instead launch a multi-year, multi-thousand-pound battle to make sure that nobody does what you do not approve of in a lay-by near your house. You can invest your life, money and health and then lose. And then what? Afterwards, the grave.

To know and follow Christ is better by far.

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