Teach me your way, O Lord,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name. – Psalm 86:11
Every Christian has a problem, the same problem, we are torn between the love we have for the Lord and the love we have for this world.
The world is this system of life in which we live. It is the water we swim in like the goldfish. Everything around us is water, and it seems to be normal and just the way things are. But then, we become a Christian and realize that this world is upside down. The way of the Lord is frequently the exact opposite of how life is lived in this world system.
For example, Jesus says, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The way of the Lord is to be a servant, not to be the boss.
In the United States, many Americans have become quarrelers and rabble-rousers. This is especially true of those who appear in the media and on many on Social Media. Hyperbole characterizes speech and we are lucky to get even a half-truth in what is said at times. This is the way of the world in contemporary American society. But, what is the way of the Lord? “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1-2). Are we careful to show perfect courtesy toward all people, or are we drawn into the debate as just another worldly person full of quarreling and evil speaking?
Teach us your way, O Lord, that we may walk in your truth.
If we are to be disciple-makers, which we are all called to do, we can only do so effectively if we walk in the Lord’s truth, in his way. When we rub shoulders with the world, the world expects us to act as they do. But we are not to act as they do. We are to behave differently.
This world lusts after financial gain and power. Some believe that one function of religion is to help one become more successful (interpreted as more prosperous and powerful). What is success? The world defines it as more money and more power. As anyone can see from the title of this blog that I believe in living life successfully, but the Bible has a different definition of success. It is a life that glorifies God, that lives in joyful obedience to the way of the Lord. It is a life of discipleship and disciple-making. For those who think that religion lived properly brings prosperity, Paul says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
Each of these areas of conflict (and there are more) creates an opportunity for our hearts to continue in the idol factory mode. Our loyalties can be divided between the kingdom of God and this world. The question for a follower of Jesus is how to rid ourselves of these ungodly idols in 0ur hearts? How do we grow into unadulterated followers of Jesus instead of those with divided hearts?
First, we must remind ourselves that the life we live in Christ is a supernatural life. It is a life empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is not fought in the flesh or purely by human effort. We live miracle lives. The Christian life is resurrection life. We cannot expect spiritual success on any other grounds than the supernatural power of God as manifest in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and passed on to us by the Holy Spirit.
Second, we only succeed in following Jesus and walking in the way of the Lord when we live a life of prayer. I don’t mean we all have to become what some refer to as “prayer warriors,” even though it would be wonderful if more of us were prayer warriors. It is an area of my life in which I wish I could say I excel and I do not. What I do mean is that in our text there is a prayer, “unite my heart to fear your name.” The NIV translates this as “give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” The Psalmist recognizes the internal battle that all people of faith have. The prayer is to ask God to change our hearts, so we fear only God and his way. If we have no fear of the world, then we are free to fear God alone and walk in his way in spite of the conflict it creates with this world. At least if we live this way, the world gets to see what walking with Jesus looks like, and for some, it will be attractive. They too will want to become Jesus followers.
The cure for a divided heart is the honest prayer, “unite my heart to fear your name.” Trust me; God will happily answer that prayer. Are you ready for it?