Magnificent obsession

Sharper Focus

by Victor Leslie, Major –

Have you noticed lately that it seems our Christian society is being conditioned, even if subtly, to focus on “success” living rather than “sacred” living? It has become a blatant obsession! Almost everywhere in bookstores, on television, on the radio, and even in the pulpit—this emphasis on “success” living rather than “sacred” living seems to have abruptly appeared in our midst like the mythical Trojan horse. It secretly sends its soldiers across the church in worm-like fashion, exploiting any security crack in the believer’s walk with God, and exposing how vulnerable we are as we succumb to worshipping at the altar of success.

Like a treasure hunter in hot pursuit of hidden riches, our society is devouring the plethora of “success” books, videos, sermons and paraphernalia coming from within the church environment, creating an addiction to success that is beginning to possess and control us. This has a damaging effect on our lives as believers, causing us to neglect the fresh intimacy of our relationship with God in exchange for the alluring potency of worldly success. Even our spiritual leaders seem to have lost their nerve in the face of our changing environment and now project the theological fash­ion of focusing on material possessions, rather than on having a magnificent obsession for God. Instead of the plain truth of the gospel, which states, “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14), we have “success” messages, diluted to short slogans with memorable phrases likehow to have an “attitude of gratitude,” how to “live life without limits,” and how to “name it and claim it.”

Somehow preachers forget to mention that there is a verse 12 and a verse 13 following Jeremiah 29:11. It is not just, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” It is also, “‘You will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’” I agree that the Bible says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). But the Bible also says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3).

In today’s success-driven society, it is easy to become sidetracked and lose sight of what’s truly significan tour personal relationship with God. The Bible says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”(Mark 8:36). Tell me, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:25). Listen, it’s not what we can get out of God, it is how God can use us. It is not in worrying about being successful but it is in being significant in the eyes of God. God wants us to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Our lives must reflect something more than the world has, because we have more than they havewe have Jesus. He has saved us, changed us, given us hope, and blessed us with a joy beyond all measure.

I truly believe that God really does have great blessings for us and wants us to be successful. But I also believe that it is only when we recognize that success is a condition of the heart and not just an outcome, that will we find true fulfillment. The challenge is to use every moment we live in dedication to God, allowing him to be so embedded in our daily existence that he affects everything we do. In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman: “In the middle of life’s complications, all this pursuing leaves me feeling like I’m chasing down the wind, but now it’s brought me back to you, and I can see again…I want this to be my one consuming passion, everything my heart desires, Lord, I want it all to be for you, Jesusbe my magnificent obsession.”

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