Tips for Living by the Values of God's Kingdom
I find the English language to be frustrating. For instance, unlike Greek, which has several words for love, English has one. This can lead to all sorts of misunderstandings, misinterpretations and false equivalencies. It doesn’t make sense that the statements of “I love donuts,” “I love my wife” and “I love Jesus” all use the same verb. To make matters worse, in our current culture, the very definition of love is up for grabs. A secular humanistic worldview claims it means one thing, while the Christian mind-set maintains another. This is just one example of the complicated and often treacherous societal waters we are forced to navigate. Through baptism, we are grafted into a new family, identity and destiny, but all three are constantly threatened by the world, the flesh and the devil. We have a responsibility to recognize and resist the counter-Christian values present in our culture and, instead, identify and walk with the Way, the Truth and the Life. So here are three tips for rejecting the values of the world and living by the values of the Kingdom:
PUT JESUS FIRST. Jesus must be our first and greatest love. Our relationship with him is not one of many, but the one from which all others flow. He cannot be compartmentalized or relegated to convenient times in our schedule. We are called to a radical detachment from the things of this world, and only Jesus can make this happen! 1 John 2:15-17 confirms this: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”
FEED YOUR MIND WITH THE TRUTH. Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium, saint writings – our minds should be sponges of the truth. They say you are the sum of the five people closest to you; well, then, your mind is the sum of the five information sources you most consume. We will never see the world as Jesus sees it if we don’t put on the mind of Christ. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom 12:2)
IDENTIFY THE ENEMY. Identify the enemy of human nature. We must remember what we’re actually fighting. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12) We have an enemy aligned against God and his people, and we will be far more successful deflecting the world’s values when we recognize their ultimate source.
Embracing and integrating God’s values takes practice, patience and perseverance. But don’t stop, because the distance between values of the world and the values of God are often as vast as my ‘love’ for donuts and my love for my wife.
Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.