Revival and spiritual awakening will require repentance on our part—we who are followers of Christ but have embraced, often unintentionally, the subtle lies of our culture.
In this series, we are attempting to bring those lies into sharper focus so we can turn our backs on them and embrace the truth that sets us free, promoting God’s greater presence in our lives, families, churches, cities, and nation.
One of those lies of our modern culture is the notion that we need to pursue today’s happiness full bore, while disregarding any concern for how our present choices may wreak havoc in the future.
As with most of culture’s lies, there is an element of truth here: It is good to live in the present rather than being obsessed with past mistakes or worrying excessively about the future. But when people take living for now to the extreme, they inevitably engage in foolish and often destructive actions.
Soft drink producer Pepsi has a current ad slogan that expresses our culture’s obsession with the present. It’s this short statement, “Live for Now.” An advertising award website describes how the marketing team at Pepsi settled on this slogan:
Rallying the world’s online fans of the iconic Pepsi brand around the Live for Now spirit required them to tap into pop culture and the mindset of their target audience. Through extensive research Pepsi discovered that young people are more scheduled and anxious than ever: “I live in the now. Pop culture + internet culture are the languages I speak.”
While the leadership at Pepsi may have thought they were entering unexplored territory with their ad campaign, the idea of living for my present needs but ignoring any long-term implications is nothing new. In Hebrews 12:16-17 (NIV), we read of Jacob’s twin brother, Esau:
See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
Note that the author of Hebrews equates sexual immorality with Esau’s hunger for food and the selling of his precious birthright for a bowl of soup. How many people do you personally know who, for the sake of pursuing a passing thrill, have wreaked havoc in their lives, weakened their health, destroyed their marriages, and shattered the unity of their families? No matter how we may try to avoid it, there is always an “afterward.” Choose to sin, choose to suffer.
In marked contrast to Esau is Moses. He is a man who understood the implications of his choices. He accepted the reality that we need to be willing to suffer discomfort in the short run to gain in the long run. Look what the author of Hebrews says about him:
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Children typically do not delay gratification. But as we grow older, we understand that some things in life are totally worth the investment of time, effort, patience, and even pain. Isn’t the discipline of regularly engaging in desperate prayer for revival and spiritual awakening one of those activities?
In our challenges, let us take comfort from the words of the apostle Paul, who faced much worse trials than most of us will ever face: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). As we look ahead to that Day, we will be like our Lord, who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.