Single-minded

Today as I was sitting in a coffee shop I was reminded of a series of blogs I had started on the mutually exclusive paths we choose to walk. The way of Jesus cannot be combined with any other. For some this may cause a feeling of restrictiveness due to conflicting desires within.

The issue for many is equating the feeling of freedom with the ability to do what we want. In saying so, the way of Jesus is only freedom for a fully sanctified person. Only once our wants and desires fully reflect him would freedom be experienced by this definition.

But doing what we want is not the real freedom. Freedomwas won on the cross when Jesus paid for our sin. Freedom from sin gives us the option of life by rejecting the offer of the serpent to become “like God”. We have two choices: to live as we were designed to live by God or live in sin. They are mutually exclusive. The idea we can jump back and forth is a lie intended to pull us back into slavery.

As we continually choose the way of Jesus, we experience what life is like with Him and our desires become anything that keeps us close with God. The restrictive feeling disappears as we maintain a single-minded focus to remain in Christ.

But this is not instantaneous. The renewing of our minds is a lifelong journey. Thus we need to take the task of discernment seriously.  We need to make choices based on sound analysis through the grid of scripture in community instead of our desires. This is the way of the free, though it sounds restrictive to many.

Therefore, we cannot frivolously support or back an individual or movement. We cannot take the shortcut to success if it isn’t Christlike. We cannot become ambassadors of something that tarnishes our ambassadorship of Christ.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

Nationalism and the way of Jesus are mutually exclusive. Christ doesn’t disengage with the world, but he cannot partner with sin and chaos. Hitching our wagon to anything that isn’t aligned with Christ will always pull us off the way of Jesus. We choose to be aliens in this world in order to enact change and reveal the person of Jesus, not to be pulled into the destructive patterns we find here.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

We need to adopt a single-minded focus, letting anything that doesn’t align become white noise in the background. We do not need to engage in everything but respond as we are moved with compassion.

I am fascinated in my reading of the gospels how rarely Jesus engages with the brokenness around him. I understand most stories are about healing or speaking to it, but Jesus is surrounded by darkness and still sneaks away on his own, or with his disciples. He spends time teaching, feasting and praying while there is still so much he could address.

He doesn’t address everything going on in the world but knows his task, his timing, and is only distracted by compassion and not ideology. We can take a page from his book. Jesus is not apathetic towards those he doesn’t engage with. He still has compassion, but discerns with wisdom and foresight what intervention will accomplish.

We do not need to engage with everything that comes up on our news feed!

I rarely share in my blog my own personal sentiments towards current movements. But to be clear, my reflections presented above are exactly why I cannot back something like the Freedom Convoy. I have sentiments regarding government overreach, but I also understand the manner it is addressed and the viewpoints of those in charge do not fully reflect the way of Jesus. It is why I can vote but not swear full allegiance to a person or nation. My allegiance is already given to Jesus and his church.

One cannot swear allegiance to conflicting forces. Righteousness cannot side with lawlessness, light cannot side with darkness and believers cannot be equally yoked with unbelievers. If a believer is involved in something they cannot fully reconcile with Christ, they are met with a crisis.

Eric Liddell, as made famous by the movie Chariots of Fire, made a similar decision to not run on a Sunday in the Olympics despite being favored to win. His allegiance was to Christ and not to the sport, his nation, or himself. Just as a note, this is not an opening or transition to a discussion on revering the sabbath. It is an example of a man facing conflicting convictions and choosing the way of Jesus above all others. If you haven’t seen this movie it is a wonderful depiction of the inner conflict of a believer facing a broken world, scored with an epic soundtrack.

Has your company just spit in the face of Jesus? Has the political party or movement you swore allegiance to just walked into darkness? How do you respond as an ambassador of Christ? Do you pretend it didn’t happen? Do you speak to those above you? Do you leave?

There is no cut and paste response to all these questions and situations. We are in fact called into the world to be light, contrasting the darkness around us. I am thankful Jesus didn’t call each one of us alone to answer the questions. He called us to seek him, and he brought us into community with others to discern together.

In the midst of all of the confusion and chaos around us, one thing is for sure. Our witness and allegiance to Christ is never to be tainted. Our single-minded pursuit is to “seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) in our end goal and each step we take.

4 thoughts on “Single-minded

  1. Thank you for your words. Yes, I want to walk led by the Spirit this day. My life is not my own.

    As I prayed for you this morning, I sensed to encourage you to “Take up your pen (figuratively) and write.” Your creative writing will serve as a bridge as well, not only your blogs. It is training your mind and strengthening your spirit for the battles ahead. So may you be blessed with creativity and diligence and delight as it unfolds.

    Blessings on your day.

    Love, mom

    On Fri., Feb. 4, 2022, 7:13 a.m. The Grace of Discipleship, wrote:

    > Joel Francis posted: ” Today as I was sitting in a coffee shop I was > reminded of a series of blogs I had started on the mutually exclusive paths > we choose to walk. The way of Jesus cannot be combined with any other. For > some this may cause a feeling of restrictiveness due to c” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your words Joel. I join with your mom to encourage you to to pick up your pen. The Lord has blessed you with gifts of wisdom and discernment and the ability to surround them with words to share with others.

    Blessings, Ethel

    Liked by 1 person

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