Where the Heart is (starring Jesus, not Natalie Portman)
I recently made a public decision to go into Christian ministries for my vocation, or to go into 'vocational Christian services' as many people call it. With that public acknowledgement I had some questions concerning what serving Christ in the 21st century should look like. I have lots of apprehension about saying that I am making this my life, only because I believe as Christians it is what we are all called to do. I do not write this as a stab at those who have careers and jobs that are not so-called "Christian ministries," I work at a coffee shop, I am hardly one to point out the splinter in your eye. Keep that in mind as I question some basic notions we have about living a Christian life in the 21st century . If you have any questions, comments, or suggests for me after reading this, I would love to hear them.
If you haven't read my blog post entitled Empty Desert yet, do so before reading this to help it make more sense.
For a while now I have felt a call on my life to serve the Kingdom in any and every way possible, in every aspect of my life. That means something different for each believer, but for me I believe God is calling me to serve him full time, as a "career." I am still trying to figure out exactly what that will look like, but I know it will involve telling people about the unfailing love of Jesus Christ. I have been working as a student ministry intern of sorts at Life Point Church in San Antonio and I have fallen in love with working within a church and hope to continue doing something along those lines.
This last Saturday I had lunch with my pastor from my home church, First Baptist Glen Rose, he encouraged me to make this decision public, to go forward during invitation to let the rest of the congregation know about my response to Christ's call on my life. So I did just that, last Sunday morning I went forward, questioning eyes following me all the way to the front, people surely whispering about why I would be going up to the front, finally, standing beside my pastor, I whispered very quickly my sense of confusion, I simply said, "I feel silly doing this."
He understood my questioning, I guess, because he explained to me how my decision was not only for me, but for the congregation, so maybe they too will choose to listen to God's call on their life.
Here is where I have a problem, the Bible clearly makes the point of explaining how all believers and followers of Christ should make their life all about the spreading and explanation of Christ's love for all nations, to all people, and for every lifestyle. So why did I have to make that decision "public?"
If I am publicly a Christian, then I believe people should be able to infer that my life is all about Christ now, after all Christian almost literally means 'slave to Christ,' yet that is no longer the case in our society. It is very easy to attend church on Sundays, and maybe a small group throughout the week, then do something that is not involved in ministry all the rest of the week. That is where I believe the problem lies, if we believe the Bible's every words, then why do so many of us have a hard time dedicating our entire lives to his cause? I'm not sure the reason, but I want to look at some passages to help us see what Christ thought our lives should look like once we decide to accept him as our savior.
Here in Luke 10 Jesus is sending out 72 disciples, or followers of him, men and women, who accepted Jesus as their savior, and the only way to eternal life.
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road."
How much more to the point can it get? "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few." It also makes me feel good about maybe not having the most fashionable clothes, because Jesus didn't even want them to wear shoes, score! (That also makes me question some other inter-denominational religious 'rules', but that's another post for another time)
Here's another even more well know verse, Matthew 16
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds. 28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”
"Your selfish ways" to me means personal gain before Kingdom gain, or something like maybe spending a free weekend lounging around, even after your church asked you to help them with a community project , or maybe saving money meant for tithing for a vacation, or maybe that new iPhone 4s. Maybe it's spending $60 on a new shirt, and not even thinking about giving to the poor or less fortunate. Whatever your "selfish way" is, Christ seems to want you to understand that it will send you to hell. And it's not just in that passage, check out Matthew 25, it gets really serious here:
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’So there's that.... if that doesn't make you question your purpose on the planet, I think you might need to have a serious heart to heart with you creator.
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Many people want to make their life all about Christ, but are always afraid to take the next step because that so often means stepping just a little bit further away from the security they have in their current life. They like the job they have, they enjoy the steady income, or maybe they know following the call with take them away from family, personally that's one that worries me. Maybe they enjoy the popularity they have, or enjoy showing off the fancy nice clothes they own, to all of these concerns Jesus says this in Luke 12
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." I love that verse, it goes hand in hand with the passage about the least of these. Where is you heart?
Remember those WWJD bracelets that used to be ever so popular? Well I want to challenge you to remember that question again.
What would Jesus do?
or maybe what did Jesus do?
We are called to live a life like Christ's, we are called to take up our cross, we are called to mimic Christ's life. In John 14 Jesus again clearly makes the point of saying we are to be imitators of Christ.
12"...Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.Christ went to the Father and left the work up to us, empowered by the Holy Spirit we are called to do greater works than Jesus, yeah read that verse again...greater works than Jesus.
I am glad I publicly made the decision serve the Kingdom as my vocation, even if only to encourage others to do so. I hope that you will continue my trend. I know many of you have real person adult jobs, but I encourage you to make that your mission field. Let your co-workers see Christ's love in you.
Or maybe quit and serve the lord full time, he says he'll take care of you, why not take that leap of faith you've always wanted to, and see where Christ takes you.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I leave you with this,
"I grew up in a culture that said not to take any risks, but you cannot avoid risk. Living is risky. God created us to live a risky life. But somewhere along the way we interpreted living the blessed life with living the safe life. God has called us to live in the time and the place that we live into to give solution to the world we live in. We live in a world that is broken, that is full of injustice, and that is full of pain. The purpose of life is not to arrive at the coffin safely. God has called us to a radical life. Often you will find that freedom and safety are not the same thing. Compassion is never compassion until you roll up your sleeves and cross the street. Do not confuse sympathy for compassion. God is looking for a generation of leaders that will step out of safety and comfort."