Doing the Right Thing Ain’t Always Easy

Hello again. Last night at the Living Room Gabe shared with us some reflections of his from his favourite movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Today I want to share with you some of my reflections to further some of that discussion. This will be done in two parts.

 

pt. 1

 

Gabe focused on the character of Finn – a First Order Storm Trooper who had an awakening and decided that he can no longer be a part of a group that lives by inflicting fear on the innocent and killing, taking, and destroying anything and everything they need to in order to get what they want. He breaks out a prisoner and joins the Rebellion because he knows it’s the right thing to do. He leaves a relatively easy life working for the the ones in power, to living a much harder and more dangerous life with the rebels. It would have been easy for him to stay with the First Order and blend in, and even surrender to their way of life, but he was convicted (I say by the Force, which can be interpreted to be the Holy Spirit) to resist and leave, even though it would not be easy.

 

Sometimes…a lot of times doing what is right isn’t easy. And that’s true for non-Christians and Christians alike. But for us, as believers, following Christ is certain to be difficult at times, if not all the time. We’re constantly having to keep ourselves in check by reflecting on what’s important and re-prioritising our lives. It’s all too easy for us to put material things and other interests and temptations ahead of God. It’s a fundamental aspect of the Christian faith to do what Finn did; to question the majority or societal norms, to question human power and influence, and seek to do what is right. Christ says if we are to follow him we must deny ourselves (Matt 16:24, Luke 9:23), even daily! That means to deny the things that consume us instead of Christ. For me that’s often tv, youtube, sports, and games. At the moment those things are what take up more of my time that I give to Jesus most days, and it’s something I’m addressing. Maybe you’re like me and these things, or other things similar to these, are jumping out at you. It won’t be easy to change them, but that’s what living for Christ means sometimes.

Sure, our passions and our interests are part of what makes us who we are, and how God made us, so it’s not really all that bad. BUT it’s when those things become the centre of our lives that we need to reevaluate them.

 

That said, I pray and trust that the Spirit will do a good work in you. As you pray and discern what daily changes (some may be little, some may be big) need to be made to build a stronger relationship with God, know that you are not the only one. I am doing it too, as I’m sure many (if not all) in our church is working on as well.

 

If you’re in a group, perhaps spend some time discussing some of the things in your life that you need to work on ‘denying,’ if you’re comfortable to do so. And spend some time praying for each other for the strength and awareness to do so.

 

pt. 2

 

The other thing that came to mind during and after last night’s service are some Biblical examples of those who chose to do what was right over what was easy (and a couple people who did the opposite).

 

Moses: Moses fled Egypt. He met a girl, married and lived with her family as a shepherd. He was happy. Life was easy. Then God appeared to him in the burning bush and asked him to do something very difficult: go back to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh let the Hebrews go from slavery (Exodus 2:11-4:17). Moses tried to get out of it. He wanted to get out of it. But after speaking with the Great I AM, he knew he had to, because it was just and right.

 

Rahab: Rahab lived in Jericho. When the Israelites were making it to the promised land they had to first invade and conquer the great city of Jericho, so Joshua sent out spies to sneak into the city. They found Rahab and she invited them into her home. The king knew these ‘visitors’ had gone to Rahab so he sent men to her house to retrieve them because he knew they were Israelite spies. He meant to have them killed or at least captured. But when his men showed at Rahab’s house she hid the Israelites and lied to the King’s men, saying they had come here, but left before the gates were closed at dusk. Believing her, they left the city walls in search of the Israelites. She had saved their lives and asked in return that her life be spared too when they came to conquer Jericho (Joshua 2).  The easy thing was for Rahab to hand over the men to the King and gain favour with him. In doing so she would have spared the lives of many in her city, and the city itself. But she knew that they were doing this for God and she had heart what the God of the Israelites can do and she knew it was right to help them.

 

Joseph (NT): Joseph, Mary’s husband, had a MASSIVE bombshell dropped in his lap when he found out that his soon to be wife, whom he had never slept with, was pregnant. Not only would it have been the easy thing to do to leave her, but it was customarily the RIGHT thing to do, and the ONLY thing to do. To stay with her would bring upon his family name (which was King David’s family name, mind you) disgrace. And even after being visited by an angel and told what really happened, he could have left her and he would have been respected for doing so. But he knew what was right and he married her anyway, and helped raise the Son of God, Jesus (Matt 1:18-25). Joseph doesn’t get talked about very much in the scheme of things, but I reckon this is a great example that doing what is right isn’t always easy.

 

Paul: Paul is the church’s most famous missionary. He traveled across most of the known world at the time spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, bringing in all sorts of pagans and Gentiles into the family of God. And on many occasions he went in to hostile territories knowing that he’s be arrested and/or beaten. He would have been scared for his life had he not fully trusted in God’s promise to him that he’d one day make it to Rome and share the Gospel to the most influential people in the world (Acts 23:11). Many times Paul faced death. He endured pain and embarrassment. But he avoided an easy life and embraced these hardships because he knew it was what God had asked him to do; he knew it was right.

 

Jonah: Jonah is an OT example of someone who did what was easy (or at least what he thought was easy) instead of what was right. Jonah is tasked by God to go to Ninevah, a city rife with wickedness and sin, and proclaim to them that God will destroy them if they do not stop living in sin and turn to him. Jonah hates the Ninevites. He wants nothing to do with them and he’d rather have God destroy them than help save them (Jonah is kind of a crappy servant, lol) so he refuses God’s order and tries to trick God by getting on a boat and fleeing to another city instead. That doesn’t go well for him and, long story short, he ends up in the belly of a whale (or giant fish) and spit out on the shores of Ninevah (Jonah 1-4). Jonah tried to avoid the right thing because it would have been hard for him to simply care enough about the people of Ninevah to try and save them. Even in the end, they are saved and Jonah is angry (again, he’s not that great of a servant, lol). It’s still too hard for him to accept these people as people he should care about, even though it’s TOTALLY the right thing.

 

and finally, Peter: Peter is also an example of someone who did the easy thing instead of the right thing (though this could be debated, and I’d love for you to do so). When Jesus was arrested Peter followed the jailers to see where they were taking him. In the courtyard area, some people found Peter and recognised him as one of Jesus’ disciples. When they asked him about it Peter did the easy thing and lied, denying that he knew Jesus at all. He did this three times, because he was scared of what might happen to him if they knew the truth. This story, now that I’m thinking about it more, is such an interesting one. I mean, what would have been the right thing to do? Sure, denying it was the easy and safe thing, but what was the right thing? Telling the truth would have just got himself through in jail and possibly executed as well. And without Peter, who knows what would have happened later on (that’s the potential debate I was talking about). Perhaps the right thing was not following them in the first place. I don’t know. What do you think?

 

And what are some other stories in the Bible that you can think of where the right thing was done over the easy thing, or visa versa?

 

What are some extra-Biblical stories of people, either yourself or someone else, who chose to the right thing even though it wasn’t easy? Were these people of faith, and if so, how do you think their faith helped them?

 

Thanks for reading. Please leave a response and begin a conversation.

 

Shalom.

 

-jono

 

 

  3 comments for “Doing the Right Thing Ain’t Always Easy

  1. Dan Ferguson
    July 22, 2017 at 2:34 am

    Nice read brother, I would definitely agree deciding what the ‘right’ thing to do is something of ultimate concern for anyone of any faith or otherwise as it affects the lives of ourselves, our families, communities and nations so heavily.

    I feel and see that common sociology tells us it’s necessary and even ‘good’ or beneficial for society as a whole to lie *to an extent*, the main reason being the end result becomes more important for humanity as a whole than how we get to that result.
    As a Christian I don’t think the bible confuses the point of whether it’s ‘right’ to lie or whether it’s permissible.

    I can only imagine in Peter’s situation what those lies did inside of him personally, after declaring that Jesus is Lord, and then promising never to deny him, he came to this grief. I feel this would have been Peter’s lowest point of life ever, that was the consequence. Fortunately for us it’s exactly from this place which Christ chooses to restore us and use us for His glory. Jesus revealed this failure to him beforehand, and still before then chose to build His church on the foundation of this broken man.
    I wonder what would have been the outcome if Peter chose to continue lying, and on the lakeside said “what, come on Jesus, I didn’t deny you the other day are you kidding. Why would I deny you? I’ve been following you everywhere until you were killed and left us…”
    I can not imagine *Peter* felt his lies were either justified or for any greater future good one could claim by any (selfless) act of self preservation (for the gospel). Only that he had denied the Living God and he knew from his Lord’s teaching what the consequences of denying Jesus meant on *his* day of judgement.
    I believe the most important aspect is contained in Peters repentance from what he had done, so much so that the rest of his life was devoted to remaining a true disciple of Christ and doing his best in fulfilling that broken oath to his own death.

    Predestination and free will aside, I can not justify lying as either necessary or ‘right’ by any biblical standard, new or old testament, more the contrary. Fortunately for us all Jesus does still love lairs. Does He expect anything of us? I believe so…
    Socially, does lying get us what we want and make our lives easier? of course, in the short term. Though I also believe there are serious consequences both to our own psyche as well as to our relationship with others which should be considered. Does the God I believe in require our lies to improve His image or reputation? I say no, and I should fear those consequences of breaking my own conscience.

    Peace

    • jonathanbarb
      July 24, 2017 at 10:02 am

      Hey buddy, nice to hear from you. Very good insights here. I thank you for your engagement. That’s exactly why I included the Peter story.

      but what do you think about the Rahab story and her lie? I know it’s kind of cliche to use this as an example where lying was justified, but…isn’t it? How might that story have played out otherwise? And if highlighting it wasn’t important, then why include it at all?

      • Dan Ferguson
        July 26, 2017 at 1:49 am

        Even if scripture doesn’t condemn Rahab I don’t think it’s quite justified either, definitely an interesting dynamic to the story with clear understanding there is an authority higher than humanity…

        From a Christians perspective no one today can possibly be in the very same situation as old testament Rahab. There is something about the story we also could see Rahab as some kind of hero for the faith.
        I see some danger in following her actions as any part of my own belief or doctrine to live by… I mean if I begin with a faith statement claiming “lying is good when…” is that accurate with God’s law in our scriptures? Can I adopt this rationalization of thinking into my own life in any general way without beginning to replace God’s law with my own (or others)?

        I think even truth can be used for destructive purposes, and most lies are selfish.
        As history points out, I guess it will remain a positive discussion relative for all time…

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