Sunday, October 14, 2012

Avoiding Ceaseless Pursuits

In early 2009, my sister by marriage sent me a Newsweek article entitled "Generation Diva: How Our Obsession with Beauty is Changing our Kids".  According to the article, the lie society preaches that you are not “beautiful enough” is ensnaring younger and younger children; the statistics are alarming—14% of Botox injections are for 19 - 34-year-olds; cosmetic surgery numbers have doubled for those 18 and under; and American 8 – 12-year-olds alone spend $40+ million per month on beauty treatments. In fact, the average girl today will have spent “$300,000 on just her hair and face” by the time she is 50.

The article also quoted writer Susie Orbach's new book, Bodies: "good looks and peak fitness are no longer a biological gift, but a ceaseless pursuit. And obsession at an early age, she says, fosters a belief that these are essential components of who we are—not, as she puts it, 'lovely add-ons.' It primes little girls to think they should diet and dream about the cosmetic-surgery options available to them."

I have a young daughter, and this scares me.  

What a horrific lie Satan is dispersing through advertising, TV shows, magazines, radio— like a strong wind blowing seeds across the continent, each seeking to take root in young (and not so young) minds to grow into a monstrous, thorny obsession.

Yet, our gracious God knew many people would have self-esteem problems, so He caused His servant, David, to pen words about how beautiful we are to Him: “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth” (Psalm 139:14-15, my Italics). Did you hear that? God’s “skillful” hands crafted you into something He considers “wonderful.” What plastic surgeon could possibly be more skillful than our God?

Perhaps, though, you are not be caught up in Satan’s lie that you are not “beautiful enough.”  Satan encourages Christians and non-Christians alike to grab hold of other "ceaseless pursuits" because of being led to believe they are “not enough” by society’s standards. In present-day America, several obsessions instantly spring to mind.

One is the lie that you’re not good enough to keep your job in this economy. 

Satan says that there are so many other people smarter than we are who could do our job so much better. The result? One, we make our job an obsession, ignoring all other aspects of our lives and families. Or, two, we obsessively worry all the time about being laid off or downsized.

Either way, we are ignoring God’s command in Matthew 6:25-27: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Does God promise we won’t lose our jobs? No, but He does promise to care for us in those times.

Another is the lie that you're not a good enough mother or father.

Satan whispers that if we don’t sacrifice everything for our child, don’t send him to a certain school, don’t involve her in certain sports, don’t give him this particular educational toy, then we’re ruining her chances for a successful future.

Consequently, we make our children our god, spending all week, including the Sabbath, giving them every advantage we can possibly squeeze in and teaching them that they are #1 in life. Not only does this make them ill-prepared for reality, but worst of all, it means we place them before God. Even in the Old Testament, God said, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

The list could go on. The point is that ANY time we believe that we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not _____ enough (you fill in the blank), we lose the confidence we need to be the best witness for Christ and we cease trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

Yes, alone we are never enough, but if it is something Christ calls us to, we are always enough. Instead of holding on to this truth, though, we take our eyes off Jesus and obsess about something temporal, not something everlasting.

In a sense, we become like Peter who believed enough in Jesus to get out of the boat and even, for a time, to successfully defy the laws of physics and walk on the water. But then, “when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:30-31).

Was Peter “enough” on his own? Of course not. He needed Jesus. But, like Peter, we doubt ourselves, and so we needlessly obsess over things that aren’t worthy of our thoughts. But we are enough in Christ! In Christ, we are beautiful enough, smart enough; if we give Him our children and our marriages and seek to live up to His standards and not the world’s standards, we can be good enough parents and spouses.

Whatever lies Satan and the world are whispering in your ears, whatever obsessions you have waiting in the wings or that you are actively pursuing, they will diminish your confidence, power, and energy to live for Jesus.

The next time you have one of those “I’m not _____ enough” days, God has a Word to directly oppose that lie. He wrote it long ago and preserved it especially for you, for that specific moment when He knew you’d be needing to hear some Godly truth. If no Scripture springs to mind, find an Online Bible Concordance where you can look up a keyword. God has an answer to every lie Satan seeks to plant in your mind.

Seek that answer so the lie doesn’t take root.

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