Compelled - April 2018

We live in a world is full of information. There are millions of books of information in the world today. And if that was not enough we have the Internet which adds incomprehensibly vast amounts of information. It is at our fingertips, on our phones, tablets or computers. Although the availability of information can be a good thing this trend has had some harmful side effects, people can come to think that knowledge is enough. It is possible to become content to just know a lot without ever acting on it. There are several different versions of this problem, one of them is known as information paralysis. This occurs when people are incapable of acting without gathering more and more information but the information never seems to motivate them to action. The more we know without acting the less we act at all. There is another phenomenon that has developed out of this, people have become spectators in life. We can become so conditioned to viewing without acting that even when it matters we may not act. An example of this has been documented in examples of crowds of people standing around while someone is being abused while doing nothing. But this problem is not a new one. Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan indicates that there has always been the danger of knowing the right thing to do and still go on and do nothing (Luke 10). Our time however, maximizes the temptation to know without acting by encouraging us to consume, consume, consume, without ever giving back. This problem is not exempt from the church. In his message to the church at Laodicea (Revelation 3), Jesus highlights that although the people think themselves rich as regards spiritual things they are actually lukewarm towards the only thing that actually matters, Him. This is perhaps were the strongest danger is in our world today. The danger of having all the knowledge we need to be fully committed to Christ but to be so accustomed to hearing without acting that it does not move us at all. Christians can become spiritually bloated with spiritual truths they have received but do not put into practice. When this happens a sermon is primarily remembered for interesting facts or details but rarely leads to any serious heart conversation with God about what change He is calling us to make in our lives. What is the cure?

Into this lukewarm world, the apostle Paul speaks divine truth, “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14–15). The dictionary defines “compel” as “To force or drive, especially to a course of action.” Paul is speaking a radical notion into our lukewarm society. It is the idea that the love and sacrifice of Christ demands, not a nod of intellectual approval, but complete and utter devotion. We are called to a daily experience in beholding the totally committed love of Christ for us so that we are changed. In other words, it compels us to action. Not a truth that we simply agree with but the truth that we commit to. This is the reason that James challenges people who say that they have faith to prove it by their works. If I believe that something is true but fail to act on it, it is useless (James 2). If the truths of God’s word are known in our head but not worked out in our life it has all been a waste. This month, as we remember the death and resurrection of Jesus we are challenged to evaluate our lives in light of eternity. Am I living in such a relationship with Jesus that when I learn His will, His love compels me to put it into practice? Or am I content to know what He wants and do nothing? Let His love compel us to surrender those places of resistance today.