Meet Amber Barnard! Amber and her family are missionaries in India with a passion for Bible translation. She is honest and real, a woman of prayer who loves her family and the people she encounters around the world with compassion and conviction.
“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 eyes and pride in possessions – is not 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
This is a go to verse for me when I need to re-center my focus and gauge whether or not my priorities are in line. I, as with most of us, can honestly say that I put forth my best effort to do what is right and good. I know I make mistakes, have patterns of sin that need correction, and have those awful days worse than the rest. Many of us can say: I am not a drunkard, I do not gamble, I am not guilty of fornication or debauchery, yet still seek pleasure, satisfaction, and comfort in the things of this world. The options are vast: upward mobility in a job, affection and attention of others, television, food, shopping, our own accomplishments, making sure our kids are the smartest, fastest, most creative, etc., our body image, houses, cars, a booming ministry, nails, hair, social media, business endeavors, the list goes on.
It is so easy to love the world and seek our own desires and then ask God to “use us for his glory” in the midst of our busyness. Then, we seek acceptance and approval from each other, rather than God and do things out of selfish ambition without realizing it.
I can easily get distracted and my love for the world becomes clear in times of distress. I see friends get sick or physically ailed and can no longer do the things they love. Then they suddenly experience a loss of self-worth or disappointment in life. When I was living in India, I sometimes found myself wanting that nice house and that nice car and all those fun activities for my kids to do and enjoy with their friends. When everything around me is different and dirty and I feel like I’m in a constant state of discomfort, my spirit crushes and a sense of hopelessness arises because things feel not as I think they should. Then, I begin to realize that sometimes I do love the world and all its pleasurable activities and desire seemingly more than anything else to be comfortable, affluent, and satisfied. It’s all rubbish, though, when I compare it to what I could have in Christ. All earthly things and pleasures are not innately evil; nevertheless, the excess in which we indulge can be at a great cost: I can begin to focus inwardly instead of upwardly and outwardly. Thinking too much about myself, I neglect to focus on God and disregard the needs of the poor and oppressed. And I know I’m not the only one.
We must identify these feelings as they are: mere strivings, a pride of possessions, a love for the world rather than a love for God. I rejoice when I see glimpses of God at work in my conversations and relationships and answers to prayer despite myself; yet I also mourn, for His overarching leadership in my life is hardly as it should be. The habit of seeking what I think I need continuously pulls me in the wrong direction, repeatedly leading me in circles where I have to again remember that this world is literally passing away before my very eyes, while abiding in God will last forever.
Lord, let us encourage one another to live lives worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ, to build each other up in love and pray to discover the way to work together, as a body, that we might understand what it means to do the will of God. Amen.