What is the change in your life that you truly wish to see? To experience? To embody?
Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, (Matthew 5: 48- 6: 6) proclaims a new ethic for the people. An ethic that involves being a disciple by emulating Jesus. We so often discover Jesus in the Bible going off by himself to pray. His relationship with God was personal and intimate.
What I love about this story is that it is an example of how Jesus, the Son of God, sent from God, completely identifies with humanity, with the human condition, with living a life that has real meaning, not only for oneself, but also for those with whom we interact. An authentic life with purpose, not a knock-off of someone else’s life, but an authentic life of ones own.
Only in Matthew does Jesus say, “Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
This powerful story sets the bar for us of going forth to do something wonderful for the Kingdom of God right here on earth, but first we need to go within. Go within, take a long hard look at what we believe, and then, and only then, are we ready to go forth to be the change in the world that God wants us to be.
Jesus tells a story of those who pray aloud on the high places so all can see them as being much better than everyone else. They are all about their designer fashion, their Prada, their Gucci, the Armani of their day. They are, in today’s language, a lot of flash – and no substance.
Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with designer labels. What Jesus is warning us about is allowing our show, our outward display, to define who we are. To make people think we are something, even though we may not be.
Jesus cautions us that it is not enough to stand on the high places and show off. There is more to living an authentic life with God, and that life can only be found by going within.
We are to turn within, go within, and there we will meet God.
Jesus says turn within, but don’t stay there. From within we are to go out to serve. This is the life of Jesus and this is the life he asks us to follow. This is the life he wants us to emulate.
Turn within; recognize the perfection of God within you, which dwells deep within, right where you are. Connect with that loving presence where God speaks to you in ways that far outweigh what mere words could ever express.
When we turn within, and really allow God to speak to us we come face to face with those thoughts and ideas about life, about Spirit and about ourselves that are a reflection of our most inner thinking. Our most inner believing. Our most inner expectation.
When we turn within we invite change. We begin to shift from old ways of thinking and believing to a new resolve. This change is powerful because it reveals to us those things we can finally in our lives let go of and release, so we can invite and fill that space with what is new.
Old thinking, limited thinking, negative thinking that has held us bondage in a place we no longer wish to be can in this quiet place be revealed to us. We can let it go. We can exfoliate our thinking. In place of doubt we can place the Christ.
When we turn within we come face to face with what we really believe about God in our lives.
We should daily affirm the presence of God; we should daily visualize God moving in our lives in ways that bring us peace, harmony and joy. We should daily affirm that for which we are grateful and refrain from continually nursing, rehearsing and broadcasting to others our pains and hurts.
Those things we dwell upon multiply, so ask yourself, what would you like to see multiplied in your life? Instead of affirming what you don’t wish to experience, perhaps its time to look at things from another direction. Affirm those things you do wish to experience and allow those things to become the new expression of all that you are. We can dress the wounds of our life by affirming our belief in a loving, powerful, giving God, and we can leave the healing part up to the one who has continually showed us that all things are indeed possible.
Let the perfection of God that dwells within you be the guiding force that guides your life to newness of meaning. Let that perfection of God that dwells within you so fill you with the Spirit of God that you just naturally move forward to serve God and do wonderfully mighty things for God’s kingdom.
Filled with God’s presence we find new ideas, new possibilities, and we discover more of God everywhere we look.
Fashion comes and goes, but what is within us is timeless. God is timeless.
Jesus reminds us that first we should turn within, before we move out.
Let God help set your course, lest you veer off in some direction that later only causes you to find regret.
In his letter to the Colossians the Apostle Paul writes, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things on earth.”
Thomas Merton said that the way we have structured our lives, we spend our whole life climbing up the ladder of supposed success, only to get to the top of the ladder and realize it is leaning against the wrong wall.
Turn within, to a quiet place. God will meet you there for God is always waiting for you. After turning within, you will know what is next for you.
We live our lives one thought at a time. Let each of those thoughts really count for something beautiful. Let those thoughts then create the story of your life.
Rev. Jefferson Beeker
EXCERPT from sermon, November 3, 2013, First Christian Church, North Hollywood, California. http://www.fccnh.org