Steve’s Devotional – Hidden Agendas
JULY 31, 2017
We all have hidden agendas in our relationships with people. Sometimes the agenda is as simple as our need to be liked. At other times it has to do with a business deal or an important favor we want. It would be naïve to think that we could or should never take an agenda into a relationship, but we ought at least to be aware of it when we’re doing it.
In most of Jesus’ relationships with people, he didn’t have a hidden agenda. His only agenda was love, and that was worn on his sleeve. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). On another occasion he said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends” (John 15:13-14).
Most people are looking for favors, but Jesus was looking for a cross. Most people are trying to get something, but Jesus was trying to give something. Most people are harsh to people so they themselves will look better, but Jesus was harsh so that others might have it better. Most people are looking for acceptance, but Jesus was looking to accept.
Author Leighton Ford told me once about a man who rented billboards all over Northern Ireland and put this message on them: I love you. Is that OK? –Jesus
Did you ever think that a Christian is a person who should have no agenda except Christ? I know. That’s hard, maybe even nearly impossible, but I believe that is what we are called to do. If Christ is Lord of everything, then those who belong to him ought to have no agenda but him. I don’t mean by this that we should have no plans or that we should always be “religious” or “spiritual.” I mean that a Christian, recognizing that Christ is the King, doesn’t have to manipulate or coerce or shout or beat people over the head about anything. We are his property, paid for at a very high price. Moreover, he controls our circumstances, every encounter in every situation in which we find ourselves. So our question should never be, “What can I get out of this?” The only legitimate question is, “What does Christ desire in this situation?”
We do, of course, have agendas. It would be impossible to live without one. However, when we take our agenda and submit it to Christ’s agenda, knowing that he never makes mistakes and that he loves us, we can enjoy a great sense of relief. We don’t have to force or manipulate anything. We can simply enjoy the ride.
Did you hear about the man who lived in India and was required to take a rather long train trip to another city? He had his most valuable belongings packed in a suitcase which he placed in the rack above his seat. He told himself that it was important he stay awake to keep track of that suitcase. But during the night, for only a couple of minutes, he closed his eyes and dozed off. When he opened his eyes and looked up, someone had stolen his suitcase. To his amazement, he was relieved. “Thank God,” he exclaimed out loud, “now I can go to sleep!”
We have, if we belong to him, placed our important stuff in a suitcase. Jesus calls it the pearl of great price. Listen to his words: “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46). We don’t have anything to protect anymore. It’s his, and he’s watching it for us. So we don’t have to have a hidden agenda. We don’t have to manipulate people into the kingdom. We don’t have to have folks think of us as wonderful people. We don’t have to force people to do it our way. We don’t have to make things come out right. We don’t have to be successful or honored. All we have to do is be sensitive to his agenda for us and then be faithful to it.
You know, the best part of all this is that his agenda is always love. Within the context of his agenda, we will find forgiveness (when we fail and promote our own agenda), meaning (when we are looking for a reason to keep going), acceptance (when things don’t turn out the way we expect), and a promise that in the end we will arrive safely Home.
There, now, don’t you feel better?
Time to Draw Away
Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 & 2 Corinthians 6:3-13
Reflect on your relationships—with family, friends, co-workers and those at church. Are you carrying any hidden agendas into those relationships? Why? What do you hope to gain or escape? Lay all of that at the foot of God’s throne and leave them behind. Let God begin to transform your relationships and make you secure in him and his plan, rather than in yourself and your plans. Then sit back and watch how well he works…you’ll be amazed.