A Real Message for Today

Doubt was written all over her face. Speaking with a pierced tongue, her question was blunt but honest. ?Is the Bible relevant for my life? After all, the Bible is ancient!?
Such questions might reflect the thinking of a lot of people since you will search the scriptures in vain to find the following chronic problems: Nintendo addiction, road rage, compulsive consumerism, anorexia, or even depression. Although you will not find within the Bible these or a host of other debilitating characteristics crippling the lives of people, scripture does address all of these problems and more. For example, consider the following story of ?Betty.?
At times Betty would find herself feeling a bit down. Long ago she discovered that by going to the mall and shopping she would feel better. With time she developed the coping habit of going shopping whenever she felt depressed in order to perk herself up. Unfortunately, the good feeling would quickly wear off and soon she would be faced again with that horrible darkness.
As the years progressed, the need to shop became more and more frequent. She also discovered that handling her depression in this way created further complications. Financial difficulties grew causing feelings of guilt which eroded her self-esteem leading to an even deeper depression. In order to handle the financial problems, sometimes she would return what she had purchased. But the cycle just seemed to grow worse and nothing short of drugs seemed capable of handling the depression. Her self-esteem plummeted further as she blamed herself for not being better.
While the Bible does not directly address shopping addiction and its related problems, it?s message strikes at the heart of Betty?s dilemma offering her freedom from a tortured existence. Betty?s problem, like most of our problems, began long before she started feeling blue one day. Somewhere along the line, probably while growing up at home or perhaps from other influences such as school or her peer group, Betty heard statements, saw actions and witnessed decisions being made which led her to believe the lie that her self-worth, purpose and dignity are based upon this world. At an early age she began to believe that if she was pretty enough, popular enough, had the right clothes and friends, etc. then life would be grand. Perhaps her parents even unwittingly contributed to this belief through their comments and actions. Frankly, although at first she had tried hard to measure up and ?be somebody? so she could be happy, in the end her self-evaluation fell far short of the goal … and her life seemed to unravel as destructive negative thoughts took root.
If Betty is a typical person, she would probably not perceive any connection between being ?saved by Jesus? and her ?real life? predicament. But she could not be more wrong. Although she might even attend church and sing songs on Sunday, it is possible that for all practical purposes her life could be centered around serving created things such as her own looks, fashion and her friendships. Fortunately, there is good news for not only Betty but also for the rest of us.
Part of God?s message is that Betty, like the rest of us, is extremely important and she has dignity because she has been made in God?s image. Furthermore, although she did not deserve God?s love, God loved her so much that he sent Jesus to rescue her from her sinful hopelessness created by serving the created order. And if she will respond to Jesus, God will even make her somebody who nothing in this world can destroy! She will stand in that most important relationship of all ? a child of God.
Scripture may not directly address the labels we slap upon modern problems, but its message addresses the root issues for the blight of modern living. The answer is simple but not simplistic. Believe in Jesus. Allow God?s message to shape your understanding and your heart. It will change who you are, how you feel and what you do.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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