I wanted to share my reflections this easter. It doesn’t have a lot to do about photography, but everything to do with the moral compass and convictions that I consider more important than my finest work. I think I want to share more about who I am, and not what I do with this article. I know I live to highlight the beauty of this world, and that I strive to do with devout dedication, but sometimes we need a snapshot of what’s happening behind the colours and pixels, because in the end, the invisible is far more relevant to our longevity than an appealing photograph. If you don’t like it, you are more than welcome to not read it, no one is forcing you to be on social media.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
There is so much in this sentence, it’s insane. Taking some much needed time out from the business of life this easter weekend and reflecting on Jesus’ life, a few thoughts have come to me. Firstly, you cannot give away what you don’t have, therefore, it’s true that Satan rules as the prince over this world that we live in, unfortunate, but true. This also points to the fact that whoever is in charge of this world, whoever has made their way to the top and is overlooking this world and all its splendour, were at some point, also offered this same proposal by the devil, but I can assure you, they did not answer it the same way Jesus did. When the devil offered Jesus everything in this world, He responded: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
I want to elaborate about serving for a minute, and what that means, because we all serve someone, even if it’s our self. If you were offered the whole world, in exchange for your soul, what would you do? It really comes down to the value that you place on your soul. For it’s been written “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul.” Or “What use is it to gain all the wealth and power of this world, with everything it could offer you, at the cost of your own life?” It’s so clear to me, and the events from the past couple of years has made it even clearer than ever, we are not in a battle to have a bigger house or a better life than our neighbour, all the aesthetics and spoils of the world are simply just a distraction, a distraction so that you would be deceived into devaluing the most precious and incomparably valuable possession ever entrusted to a living being; your soul.
You see, Jesus, although the world was made through Him and for Him, and He was by all means entitled to all things, and you can choose to believe that or not, but He stepped down from his position of sovereign ruler, and became a servant, a humble servant to all, and even became obedient to death. He did not value his own life, more than he valued His soul, which was inherently connected to His place in eternity and the joy His soul would receive when He arrived back there. He was not persuaded by the value of a ‘temporary’ kingdom.
“My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus said when they opposed Him. “If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is from another place.”” In fact, Jesus went on to say in this encounter when the chief priests (yes, the apparent ‘godly’ people of the day) issued his arrest and hunted him down with a battalion of soldiers: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” - (John 18:36)
Hear me out, this is such a valuable revelation. Here is a man, embodying all the attributes of God, with all the resources of the heavenly forces at his finger tips, and yet He stays committed to the will of God instead of giving in to the tyrannical requests of man. They tried to silence Him, take away His speech, His platform and His authority, because they were threatened by it. Gosh, it sounds like an all too familiar narrative, but it’s not the people that are threatened by the words and character of God, it is the devil who gets riled up about it, and the people that serve him don’t like anything that comes from God. Take a good moment to think about that, and suddenly a lot of what’s happening makes a lot of sense. It’s so important to realise that this world does not recognise goodness, nor does it receive it. It is blind to the glory of God and absolutely ignorant to acknowledging the reality of Gods sovereign kingdom.
In observation of this, Jesus said: “Their minds are dull and slow to perceive, their ears are plugged and are hard of hearing, and they have deliberately shut their eyes to the truth. Otherwise they would open their eyes to see, and open their ears to hear, and open their minds to understand. Then they would turn to me and let me instantly heal them.” - (Matthew 13:15)
Although the prince of this world works day and night to deceive and distract humanity, and to encroach on and destroy every good work that God has ordained, at some point in your life, satan will try to offer you what seems like, everything you could ever have desired in this life, but to enjoy increase in this life is not the end goal, and I’m not opposed to increase, for a worker is worth his wages, but this world, even in all its ‘splendour’, cannot even begin to compare to the kingdom that Jesus speaks of with sincere conviction. I feel it in my heart, at times I catch glimpses of it in my spirit, sometimes I see it through my artistic pursuits out in the field, the kingdom of righteousness and glorious light, it’s truly hidden in plain sight, visible only through faith, yet at times more tangible than the ground I stand on. I’ve seen enough to be wholeheartedly convinced that we do not belong here.
“And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” (1 John 2:17)
It seems ludicrous to take a temporary pleasure over an eternal inheritance, but people do it everyday. I understand these words are abrasive to the culture we are surrounded by and they are a stark contrast to the ways of society. But, society is on a dark path right now, a godless and self-destructive path, hellbent on tearing down every good thing that God has established by design, and I for one, do not want to even take one step down that path, in fact, I find myself running in the opposite direction of the way the world is going.
“Come to God through the narrow gate, because the wide gate and broad path is the way that leads to destruction, nearly everyone chooses that crowded road! The narrow gate and the difficult way leads to eternal life—so few even find it!” - Matthew 7:13-14
Nearly everyone chooses that road!! This is an alarming statement, and probably should be of some concern to pretty much anyone that reads it. So, just a side note, if you don’t want to do the same thing that 93% of the world is doing, don’t feel bad about that.. it’s ok to be part of a minority. This ‘wide road to hell’ may or may not be evident to you as you walk down your street, depending on where you live of course, but the onslaught of evil is very real, and the herd mentality is poisonous to the mind. It confronts us, just like Satan confronted Jesus, with the same question; who do you serve? The narrow gate analogy clearly states that not going along with the course of society is difficult, and only a few muster up the courage and moral to do so. I didn’t see a single mention or hint of celebration in the community this easter, yet halloween seemed to last for months last year. Just a small observation I made without getting into the political climate of it all..
So, as I reflect on the life of Jesus and what He not only stood for, but died for 2000 years ago, I want to amplify the reality of the battle over our souls. Satan is still persuading and convincing people to ignore their eternal instinct and moral compass and bow down to him, and although I’m not the judge of this world, more and more seem to be getting persuaded to conform to the patterns of this world; the relentless and overpowering influence of todays crooked culture, and if at any point you refuse to agree with the mainstream narrative, and you refuse to bow down and exchange your soul for a place in this perishing realm, then the world will turn on you and want to kill you in an instant. Just like they killed Jesus on this day a couple of thousand years ago. It’s the age old restless war of good vs evil, the war that began at the dawn of man, and it continues to wage havoc on peoples souls today.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”- Ephesians 6:12
It may be sunny where you are, or it may be raining, but regardless of what the weather is doing, there is more important things to talk about this easter. The decisions we make regarding whom we serve each day, have an eternal impact on our soul, a successful career won’t change it, fame, fortune and a nice place will just make it harder to leave, so I urge you;
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” - Romans 12:2.
Jesus said: “I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me..” Thank God that the devil could not deceive Jesus, I for one am eternally grateful that Jesus stood against Satan and overcame this world. I am thankful that Jesus gave up His spirit on the cross so that we could receive that same Holy Spirit and be guided back into the kingdom where we belong!
I couldn’t sum up these thoughts any better than the word itself:
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that is what the world needs more of, not the latter. Happy easter my friends, if you got through all that, then I applaud you, and I only wish that you all would be guided into fullness of life by the light of life, JESUS, for He is the reason for the season.