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EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) -- Just as a frame of reference for this article, let's step back from the American cultural forest and identify four distinct varieties of trees that have grown up in post-World War II America:
-- Baby Boomers: born from the mid-1940s to mid-1960s; grew up in a prosperous post-war society; sometimes referred to as the "Me" Generation.
-- Generation X: children of the Baby Boomers, born from the early 1960s to the late 1970s; raised in post-Vietnam, unsettled society; looking to find their way.
-- Generation Y: born from mid-1970s to early 2000s; raised in the early days of the digital-technology revolution; sometimes referred to as the "Millennials."
-- Generation Z: born from early 1990s to late 2000s; raised with digital tools and toys; live a wholly connected lifestyle that transcends geography; digital information explosion has created awareness of and participation in causes at the local, national and international levels.A Culture of causes
This culture of causes in which we live reinforces a solid biblical principle and causes us to evaluate our own contribution to causes. The principle is this: We do not live for ourselves. Our lives are to be others-focused. As those in whom God has made a deposit of His grace and the treasure of His Gospel, we are obligated as stewards to be faithful to the causes of the Master.
Jesus' Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) clearly teaches that we are accountable for the resources God has given us (to include time, talent and treasure). And the apostle Paul says that stewards have one overriding obligation: faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2). So if we have been blessed with resources, and our responsibility is to be faithful to God's expectations, the logical question is, "What would God have us do?"A Culture of Christ
This may disappoint you, but I'm not going to give you a list of causes to be involved in. However, I will say this: The more intimately we know the heart of God and spend time growing in awareness of His priorities, values and plans, the more likely we are to know how to invest our resources.
First, consider Jesus' motivation for coming into the world: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45a). Those words of Jesus tell us immediately where our focus should be: on others. If we have been given a mission to go into all the world on His behalf, then we will go, like Him, with an others-centered focus. We will faithfully use the resources entrusted to us for the benefit of those Jesus came to serve.
Second, consider Jesus' purpose: "For even the Son of Man [came] ... to give His life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45b). Bound up in the word "ransom" is a Bible's worth of understanding. Ransom is a price paid for those held captive to secure their freedom. So Christ came into the world for an eternal purpose -- to free those held captive by Satan so they might be restored to a life of fellowship with their Creator not only during their tenure on earth but ultimately for all eternity. Christ did not come into the world to say, "Chin up, everyone! Things are getting better!" He did not come first as an example but as a Redeemer. And as His faithful stewards, eternal redemption must be the foundation of our concern for others.
Third, consider Jesus' heart: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:3-5). Jesus, who is God, literally put Himself in a subservient position. On purpose, He chose to invest Himself in meeting the needs of others when He came to earth. He sacrificially did without in order that others might be supplied.
Just from those three examples we can see a bit of the heart of God -- surely enough to help us know how to narrow the focus of our own lives. God came to earth to serve others in a sacrificial manner that would have eternal, redemptive consequences for their lives -- now and for eternity.
David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God and pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org. This column has been approved by Turning Point for redistribution in Baptist state newspapers; for other reprint requests, contact Myrna Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.