Last week I wrote a post on 4 Things The Western Church has got wrong. Now, I was re-reading it later and thought that it might have come across as one of those usual articles that complains about everything, without really trying to offer a solution. I want to offer a disclaimer:
It is not my intention to simply complain about the state of the Church, without working towards a solution.
I am a minister in a church, and have been for a number of years. I am committed to seeing the body of Christ equipped and built up, to working with Jesus to help form His Bride and mature His people. To this end, I felt the article I wrote was to hold a mirror up to us in the West – and I am a part of this Church! – and help us to see where we often go wrong.
I do, however, want to offer this article, as a way to remedy some of the attitudes that I see in the people I have ministered to over the last 16 years. I will write a few of these because it truly is my desire to see people equipped to live a life that points to Jesus.
Complaining is a big issue. Often, though, we complain about really ridiculous things. There is the phrase ‘first world problems’ for a reason. Here are some examples taken from this article:
- Having no WiFi
- Having a bad phone signal
- Online deliveries arriving late
- Not being able to fast forward live TV
- Not having 4G signal, merely 3G
- Hotels with plug sockets too far from the mirror/bed
- Takeaway takes too long to be delivered
- It’s freezing outside but boiling in the office
- Leaving the phone charger at home
- Crème eggs not being on sale all year round
In the Scripture we see the same sort of thing going on. Just after the Exodus event we find the Israelites ready to move out from Mt Sinai to enter the promised land. This is only about 2 years after they have left Egypt, and so we know they’re not going to. But why did they end up getting sent back into the wilderness? The reasons are legion, yet there is one that seems to stand out above all of the others. If you read the story of the Exodus, or even the story of the chosen people of God, you find that complaining is something that they do a lot. Like, A LOT.
Here’s one example among many:
Now the people began complaining openly before the Lord about hardship.
The riffraff among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites wept again and said, “Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!”
Both of these occur right after each other, and God’s response to the first complain was to get angry and send fire to the camp. The people, it seems, were slow to learn. How can we stop ourselves from following in their footsteps? Here are three ideas.
Make a Decision to Complain Less
In beginning this journey, we must start somewhere. We have to recognise that this is a behaviour that upsets God, and that we need to change it. Once we have come to that realisation, then we must make the decision to follow through on this change of behaviour. This is where it all starts. That doesn’t mean that we’re simply going to be fine after this, and we’ll never complain again. What it does mean is that we have a starting point, a place to jump off from, something that we can look back on and say, “That was when I decided to stop complaining.”
Take Your Eyes Off The Problem
The second thing that we can do is to refocus our gaze. Take our eyes off of the problem. But where are they supposed to go then?
Back to God. We are to look to Jesus for all of our provision. In the midst of the storm, we are to focus on His face, on His words, and on the actions that He has called us to.
How can we do that?
One of the best ways that we can take our eyes off the problems and refocus on Jesus, is to remind ourselves about how magnificent He is. Read the Psalms, read the Gospels, remind yourself of Who Jesus is and what He’s done for you. Tell yourself your own story, where you were, and where God has brought you. Read Habakkuk and see how magnificent God is, read Psalm 8, or Psalm 121. Sing the songs, connect with His heart for you, and know that He is God, and what He has for you is good.
Question: How could you take your eyes off your circumstances, and place them on Jesus?