I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately, and how to make certain we accomplish all we can for Christ during our time here on earth. So many things beg for our time and attention that it is all too easy to become distracted and pulled off mission. Harder still to remain focused if we have never defined our purpose and goals. I encourage everyone to develop a mission statement as well as some life goals for themselves.
Archives for September 2009
What is your purpose in life? What is your mission? Have you ever thought about big questions like these or are you content to simply take each day as it comes? The Biblical answer to these questions is beautifully simple to discover yet maddeningly complex to implement!
For as long as I can remember I have heard Christians lament about the fact that they don’t know God’s will for their life, they don’t know what they were put on earth to do. For those folks, I have great news: you can indeed know with 100% certainty what God’s will is for your life. God’s will for your life is the same as it is for my life and for your neighbor’s life. God’s will is that we would love him with an all consuming, passionate and unconditional love. Not only this, but His will is that we love everyone with whom we come into contact with this same all consuming, passionate and unconditional love. Show His glory to others by demonstrating His love at all times. Tell others about Him with our words and actions. That’s it; it really is no more and no less than this. This is what Scripture teaches us is the will of God.
Still, we all want to know what this looks like on a more practical, day to day level. What are we to do with our lives as it concerns our work, dreams and goals? Beyond loving people, what else are we to do? Should we not seek to do extravagant and amazing things for God? Should we not seek to prosper so we might have more resources with which to serve the poor and hungry? We know we are to love, but that doesn’t tell us what we should do for our vocation or if we should get married or if we should become a missionary in a foreign land or any of a hundred other questions! How do we know what to do in these circumstances?
I submit to you that love is the answer here as well. Go loves us more than we could ever possibly hope to imagine. He has given each of us passions, dreams and talents. All we have to do is determine how best to use our gifts to demonstrate His love. Maybe it means staying in that dead end job so you can continue to love your co-workers. Or maybe it means you leave that dead end job to give you time to drink more fully of His love so you can share more of it with even more people.
Whatever decision you face, look at the issue in terms of how you might best demonstrate the love of Christ. Imagine all the ways you can serve Him if you decided to do plan A or plan B. Which decision gives you the greatest opportunity to fulfill His will for your life? Remember His will is simply that you love Him with all that you are, and you love everyone else in the same way. Are you participating in activities, relationships or a job that is choking the amount of love you are able to show to others? Are the things you are currently doing preventing you from fully serving and loving God? If your answer is yes, then you are out of the will of God, and it is time to put aside anything that would hold you back from total love and devotion to the one we call Lord. Decide today to walk in His way only. Walk in love.
How’s your attitude today? Does the way you carry yourself reflect the love of Christ? Are you genuinely happy to greet everyone with whom you come into contact? Our attitude towards others is the single biggest way we can demonstrate love as Christ did.
We tend to put so many other things above the importance of a proper attitude. We worry about how many books we’ve read, being fully prepared to have all the right answers, dressing appropriately, having the right friends… it goes on and on. I believe we have a strong tendency to worry so much about executing proper Christianity that we totally lose track of what Christianity actually is meant to be. To live like Christ is to demonstrate love; to follow Jesus is to be loved. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you no doubt have sensed a trend: I talk about love a lot. Everything Jesus did was done in love; every day was lived in love. His attitude was one of unconditional love. He didn’t care who you were, what you’d done or how you smelled. He just loved, and loved in a way that we struggle to even begin to fathom.
Jesus didn’t worry about how well he executed His mission. He wasn’t interested in pomp or proper form. He led with His attitude and everything else just followed as a result. When we lead with love, it is awfully difficult to fail. No matter what I accomplish in this life, when it’s all said and done, I want to be remembered for love. I want people to remember a kind smile, a willing heart and a gentle reassurance that everything was going to be okay. I want to lead with love, and I want to end there as well.
How about you? Are you leading with love? Does your attitude exude love or something else? How do you want to be remembered? As long as we still have breath, it is up to us to write our epitaph. We alone are in control of our attitude. We alone are responsible for choosing to love. Every day spent not loving others is a day wasted. Who can you love today, tomorrow, right now? There’s a familiar saying, “Be the change you want to see”. I would paraphrase that to “Be the love you wish to receive”. Remember how Christ loves you; remember how faithful and unconditional that love is. Show that same love to everyone you meet. Be remembered for love.
Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” Which begs the question, of what do we need to let go to better serve Christ? What are those things that need to be put aside?
In our modern culture we tend to fill our lives with so much. We have family commitments, work commitments and personal commitments. It can be hard to find a moment of peace. Television, radio, cell phones, the internet (you are reading this online after all!!); so much calls out and begs for our focus and attention. Entire industries have arisen with the single goal of capturing our attention. Of course everything looks appealing and it seems like such a good idea at the time. Suddenly we have overfilled our capacity and overbooked our schedules. More often than not it is Christ that is the first thing to get squeezed out. We need to let something go.
Being full of Christ means there is no room for any of this other stuff we may have in our life. It seems we’ve gotten it backwards. Our lives are so full that we’ve run out of room for Christ. I think Satan smiles when He sees this. He barely had to lift a finger to get our eyes off of Jesus. He simply had to tempt us with the modern day fruit from the tree of what society has defined as “life”. We have not only taken a bite, but we have made a feast from this tree. We grab all we can and eat until we are full. But where is our first love? Where is the One who saved us from a life of pointlessness and despair? He has become the forgotten Man.
We need to go on a diet. Like all diets, the best ones are those that make slow but steady progress. Sure, simply casting off all the trappings of modern society all at once may work for awhile, and it may even work permanently for a few. But by and large, experience and research has shown that lasting results comes from slow but steady changes. We need to make the shift to being full of Christ and empty of everything else. We need to be so full of love that it overflows and permeates everything we do. There is no room for anything other than this in a life fully devoted to Christ. There is no half way to living a full life; being full is all or nothing.
So what are you full of today? Is it Christ and His love or is it the pleasures and accomplishments of our culture and society? What do you need to let go today? Write a list of everything in your life that is not contributing to the goal of being completely filled by the love of Christ. Take the time to get it all down on paper. Now look at your list and pick one item that you will begin eradicating from your life this week; write down a plan for how you will let it go, then execute that plan. Once this particular item is out of your life, move to the next one on the list and do the same with it.
We all want to live a full life. The only question is with what will we fill it? Will it be with self-importance, achievement, popularity, the glitz of Madison Avenue? Or will it be with the love, humility and gentleness of the love of Jesus Christ? What will ultimately matter when all is said and done? What is keeping us from being truly full of Christ today? It’s time to let it go.