the war within

by Pastor Mark Jordan

“Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11b, MSG) download

This week we are exploring how we are to live as neighbors to people, even though we are strangers in a strange land. Yesterday’s daily water helped us to think about adopting a new mindset while we live as strangers in a strange land. Today we will recognize that this often creates an inner struggle between where we are and where we want to be.

As we discussed yesterday, the struggle for the Jesus follower is not to get so cozy in the culture, that you lose sight of where your true home is: in heaven with God. Let’s face it, the world we live in is becoming more and more at odds with God’s plan. This can cause us to get apathetic at best and antagonistic at worst. When facing the difficulties of living as strangers in a strange land, there is a temptation to either withdraw and not engage others, or give in to the old adage: if you can’t beat them, join them. Peter warned against both extremes and challenged the Jesus follower to keep his/her soul pure.

This is in response to one of Jesus’ teachings, who warned against profiting the world and losing the soul (Matthew 16:26). The more you try to get cozy and fit into your new culture, the more touch you lose with your soul, which is the totality of who you are made in the image of God. Your ego tends to want to say, “me first,” when your God-shaped soul says, “God and neighbor.” And we can slip into temptation traps while doing the right thing, yet thinking that it must be about meeting your whims and fancies. When you give into that temptation, it fractures that image into which you were created in the first place.

Peter’s teaching about maintaining the integrity of your soul at the expense of your ego can be challenging, true, but that’s where you begin to see the rubber hitting the proverbial road when it comes adopting a new mindset to live as a stranger in a strange world. May we all aim to follow Jesus so the fulfillment of our lives is one of following him, finding rest of our souls in a world that seeks to divide our loyalty to the Lord.

Prayer: Dear God, I thank you for your love. Forgive me for the times I lean toward stroking my own ego as opposed to finding my soul shaped by following you. Help me by the power of your Spirit to know I am whole in you, and living that way while I find myself a stranger in a strange land. I ask this in Jesus’ name, who embodied this in his earthly ministry. Amen.