Following God’s Command
By Pastor James
Do you remember the old 8 and 16mm home movies? Long before the days of camcorders and cell phones, families would record their memories and lives on 8 and 16mm tapes.
My grandparents did just that; they had an 8mm camera, a projector, and a screen. Our Friday evening entertainment often would be to watch home movies. When that got boring, we would play them backwards. The best ones to play backwards were the ones where we were eating, and when played backwards, it would appear as if we were spitting out our food.
Fast forward (pun intended) to current times. I had been holding on to about 32 spools of old 8mm tapes of my family and childhood, and finally had them transferred to DVD. As I began to watch them, I also began to cry—especially when I first saw my mother, who had passed away in 1989.
It was as if I had stepped back in time; as if the past had become the present. I laughed at my grandfather dancing a jig, smiled as I watched my father play with me as an infant, was dumbfounded when I watched my grandmother open a Christmas gift from my grandfather—a clothes iron!! I laughed as I watched myself plunging my face into my one year birthday cake, watched in awe as construction began on my grandparent’s house that would eventually become my wife’s and my house, and was proud as I watched my mother in her classroom, where she taught fifth and sixth grade students. Watching those home videos stirred up many emotions and brought back many memories, but it also made me think—a lot!
Fast forward (again, pun intended) well into the future. Imagine someone is watching a movie of someone’s life. Imagine the movie they are watching is of your life. What is happening in those movies? What are they thinking about you as they watch your life unfold? What will the tape say about you?
Jesus said in Mark 12.30-31, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”
If you want that movie of your life to be a beautiful thing, the secret to doing that is to follow that command. When we follow Jesus’ command, we put God first, learn to forgive and love ourselves, and to love and help other people. This means that life is no longer all about us; we now live to serve God and do his will in our lives, and to serve others.
Jesus showed us three relationships we need to work on; they are: 1) with God 2) with ourselves, and 3) with others. The best way I can think of to follow Jesus’ command is to work the steps with a qualified sponsor.
The 12 Steps
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Steps 1-3 help establish a relationship with and reliance upon God.
Steps 4-5 begin the process of forgiving and loving ourselves.
Steps 6-7 help remove those things that will hinder our progress in keeping Jesus’ command.
Steps 8-9 help mend and restore relationships broken or compromised in our addiction.
Steps 10-11 help us strengthen and grow in our relationships with God, self, and others.
Step 12 is where we truly put into practice loving others like Jesus talked about in Mark 12, and where we see a truly beautiful movie of one’s life.
The cameras are rolling; what will the final cut of the movie of your life look like?