What guides your life?
If I looked at your schedule, your finances, your conversations, your thoughts, your motivations, and your habits, what would they point to?
For far too many in the West, they certainly wouldn’t point to Jesus.
For far too often in my life, they don’t point to Him.
I 100% believe that following Jesus in the West has been condensed down to The American Dream in a choir robe. Get the big house, the lake house, the boat, the spouse, the two kids, the dog, the promotion, the popularity, the success. Get it all. Just make sure you pray before meals and go to church on the weekends if you’re not busy.
Y’all. That ain’t the call of the gospel.
But for far too much of my life, that has been the dream. I want all that this world has to offer.
Right now I’m hanging out at the beach in North Carolina, on a family reunion trip that we take every few years. When I was little, we came to this exact same beach. I remember standing out in the waves as a teenager, thinking about what my life would be like. I wanted to taste and see that America was good. I wanted to work in sports information and make a name for myself. I legit thought I would be working at ESPN as a statistician.
Fast-forward half of my lifetime and I’m looking out at the waves praising God that He didn’t give me what I wanted.
This world is insidious.
We can 100% enjoy beach trips and all the other pleasures of this world. They’re from God. They’re good when received with thanksgiving.
But all too often, I get hooked.
Here’s what I mean.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is talking about the dangers of sexual immorality. In verse 12 he makes a statement that I believe applies to matters far broader than sexual activity.
“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12
As Christians, we have freedom. There are a thousand worldly things that aren’t mentioned in Scripture. And even those that are come down to belief not behavior.
When it comes to my choices concerning things of this world, this verse gives the perfect thought process. Is engaging in a certain activity, going on a specific trip, establishing a certain rhythm, or implementing a certain hobby helpful for my walk with Christ?
I’d rather miss out on a million worldly things if those worldly things dim my light for Christ or lessen my commitment to Him.
I used to think that those who said ‘no’ to certain worldly forms of entertainment or activities were crotchety old legalists. And maybe some were. But now I see that maybe they had it right.
Here’s the definition of dominate:
have a commanding influence on; exercise control over.
Does that not sound like the church in the West? We have become controlled by the things of this world. We have bowed down to a different lord.
So how do we know if we’ve been dominated by worldly things?
Where does your money go to first?
What do you first think about when you wake up?
What is your weekly schedule operating around?
What do you talk about the most?
The answers to these questions show us what we’re being dominated by and controlled by. If the answer isn’t “God’s people, the Kingdom of God, making disciples, and the good news of the gospel” respectively, then I’ve bowed down to an idol. I’ve taken a good thing and made it a god thing in my life.
Can I confess my false gods?
Over the last few years, I’ve had three things that have taken the role of lord in my life, three things that while not unlawful became the core of who I am. And boy they’re embarrassing.
The first one was a stupid little white ball with dimples. Back in 2020, I played AT LEAST once a week. Instead of devoting time to God in prayer or study, or spending time with my wife, I would go hit a ball over and over again for four or five hours. It became what I wanted to talk about, post about, research, and receive gifts regarding. It dominated me and it didn’t help me in my walk with Jesus.
After much conviction, I put it back in its proper place. I still play from time to time, but it no longer dominates me.
The second one was a dual threat of TikTok and YouTube. From 2019-2021 off and on I would become overpowered by the need to watch idiotic videos at every free moment I had. It was bad. And boy it’s embarrassing. But I would get home from a tiring day of work and lay on the couch or in bed looking and laughing. Now, humor is a gift from God. Laughter and levity are gifts from God. But I was neglecting time with God in prayer and word because I ‘didn’t have enough time’. All while ScreenTime was saying I spent 4 hours on my phone daily.
After much, much, much conviction, I deleted TikTok and have slowly tried to waste less time on YouTube.
The last thing that dominated me was work. For the last several years work had become something that was a burden instead of something that was a joy. While circumstances may have contributed to that burden, I mostly did that to myself. My time at home was consumed by my responsibilities at work.
In two days (depending on how the vote goes of course) I’ll be starting a new chapter in ministry. My prayer is that it will take its proper place in my heart and life. It is not what my life is about.
My life should be about Jesus.
Brother or sister in Christ, I can’t tell you what you’ve become dominated by.
What I can tell you is that removing good and morally neutral things from your life isn’t legalist. It’s life-giving.
Every single week I want to think about and live in response to what will make the most like Jesus, what will make me pursue Him the hardest.
Let’s be honest, the pleasures of this world will not compare to the glories of the Kingdom.
So I’m more than willing to miss out on some here.
Let’s not be dominated by anything.
The American Dream is incomplete.
Let’s do only that which is helpful for our walk with Jesus.
Let’s do it together.
In His Name,