STRENGTH for the WEEK
A BLESSED LIFE: Godly Counsel
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2
The Scriptures do not condemn associating with people who are unbelievers, nor does it even condemn associating with people whose behavior is bad. God’s vision for his people in this world is not a utopia of interactions between people who are sinless, but to be a people on a mission to be a light in dark places. That mission is impossible without interacting with the wicked, or sinners, or scoffers in some form. In short, mission is the form of interaction with a sinful world to which God calls all believers.
To use a metaphor, Jesus has offered himself as the Bread of Life, but your life as a believer in the world of sinners is the table on which God has chosen to serve or offer that Bread. For you to be a table on which God presents the Bread of Life consistently, all four legs of the table have to be functional. The first leg of a missional life that tables the Bread of Life to unbelievers is GOOD WORKS. Jesus said we shine his light in a dark world whenever we do good works and direct our praise to God when unbelievers see those good works. Mind you, it is not just good works per se. Rather, it is doing good works AND letting people know that it is God who deserves praise for them. If we are satisfied to take the praise and credit for our good works, our good works are humanitarian, nor missional.
The second leg of a missional life is GOOD COMMUNITY. Jesus teaches us that as believers, the love we show to one another is a witness to the unbelieving world. Although it is tempting and popular to reduce our participation in Christian community to attending a church service once a week to sing songs and listen to a preacher, this is not where Jesus primarily unleashes the church’s power as a witness. That power is unleashed most potently when Christians love one another, not just with any kind of love, but the kind that Jesus exemplified, a love that sacrifices, serves, and suffers for others. Jesus said that kind of love unmistakably proclaims his kingship over us to the world. The third leg of a missional life is GOOD NEWS. This is the one we all love to focus on, because although many people are terrified to speak to others about anything important, much less about their sins and need for God, sharing the good news is in fact the easiest part of a missional life. All you need to do is speak. It may be scary, but it is not as difficult as doing good and giving God praise for it, or as difficult as loving others in the church the way Christ loves. So there is really no excuse for not telling people about Jesus.
The fourth leg of a missional life is GOOD LIFESTYLES. More than performing miracles and preaching the kingdom to sinners, Jesus invested a lion’s share of his time teaching his followers how to live by the values of his kingdom. He taught them what kingdom marriage, kingdom conflict resolution, kingdom spending, kingdom employment, kingdom Bible reading, kingdom praying, and many other things differ from the way the world does those same things. He wants us to live our lives by kingdom values, so that the unbelieving world sees that we are in this world on a mission but not of this world. And perhaps of all the things about us Christians that destroys our credibility to share the GOOD NEWS, nothing is as devastating as a lifestyle that is consistently lived by the values of the world and the urges of the sinful nature. And here, in the area of how we live, Scripture warns us, not so much against associating with the unbelievers, but against going to them for counsel and modelling on how to live our lives. In practice, for example, it is one thing to watch the movies and listen to the music of Hollywood because it entertains you, but it quite another to be making your own life’s decisions about romance, money, conflict, parenting, work, fashion, and language based on what you see there. To live a blessed life is to avoid the counsel of the ungodly, because when it comes to living for God, they have nothing to teach you.