I once read a quote from A.W. Tozer that continues to both propel and haunt me. Tozer said, “Before the judgment seat of Christ my service will be judged not by how much I have done but by how much I could have done!” I mentioned this quote before (see “Living for the Emergency”), but wanted to dive a little deeper into it because it won’t stop gnawing at me. Each of us has been uniquely created with a combination of talents, skills, gifts, and passions. We have been designed with specific work in mind (Ephesians 2:10). We will choose to obey God and carry out the job He has given us to do, or we will reject Him and squander all He has blessed us with on our own selfish desires.
Archives for June 2014
There is nothing we can ever do to deserve Heaven or the love of Jesus. We are too flawed, too broken, and too selfish to ever be able to overcome all of that and present ourselves worthy to God. It is only by His incredible and inexplicable love that we can obtain the privilege of coming into His presence. I have often heard sermons preached about the rewards we will receive in Heaven based on our service on earth. I think it’s important to recognize that except for the mercy of Christ, we could achieve nothing for Him. As notable Puritan Thomas Hooker prepared to die, those gathered at his bedside said, “Brother Hooker, you are going to receive your reward.” His reply was, “No, no! I go to receive mercy!”
I was told of a woman in a nearby church who went to visit her husband in prison. As she was leaving, an older woman was being released. The woman being released was carrying a sack with a little bit of clothing and, inexplicably to me, had no shoes. A little later in the morning, the woman from the church encountered this same older woman in a McDonalds. Instead of simply getting her food and leaving, the woman from the church went and sat down with the older woman and they talked for awhile. Before leaving, the church woman gave the older woman the shoes off her own feet. I don’t have any further details, but I found the wholly unselfish actions and love demonstrated to a complete stranger both moving and inspiring.
I am currently reading Jentezen Franklin’s book entitled, “The Spirit of Python: Exposing Satan’s Plan to Squeeze the Life Out of You”. In it, the author paints a vivid picture of the way Satan slowly, almost imperceptibly, squeezes the spiritual breath out of us. What we perceive as harmless distractions actually can have a major impact on our lives. What we see and hear affects what we think about, and what we think about directly correlates to how we live. It’s so easy to go throughout our day without giving a second thought to what we are allowing to shape our thinking, and ultimately our destiny.
One of my friends was speaking at a large local church this weekend. We are always challenged and encouraged by his preaching, so my wife and I went to support him there. The Lord definitely spoke through him as he taught and we left fired up and ready to make some adjustments in our own lives. The church itself though left me feeling an odd mixture of anger and sadness. Despite the fervor of the sermon, the rest of the service felt slick, overproduced, and soul-less. Instead of an atmosphere where I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, all I perceived was the culmination of the American dream in the heart of suburbia.
My passion is to teach and encourage others to lead lives wholly devoted to Christ, to help them become the people God created them to be. When I am surrounded by a group of professing believers who are settling for less than God has planned for them, something inside me begins to well up and I want to scream. How is it that we have settled for so little when the One we serve holds the entire Universe in His hands? Greater still is the fact that when we surrender our lives to Him, all of His power resides within us and is available to us.
If we have all this power available to us individually, think what we can do corporately as the body of Christ! So when I sit among a few thousand people and feel nothing more powerful than the American Dream, I hope you understand my frustration. Gathering together as a body of believers should always bring about a powerful moving of the Spirit of God. But that won’t happen unless and until we have all surrendered our hearts and live entirely to Jesus Christ. As long as we are focused more on what we have in this world than on the fact that billions are destined to be forever separated from their Creator, we will never experience everything God has for us. We will never accomplish the mission He has given us to do when our selfishness and greed are our primary concerns. We are the hands and feet of God, designed to do great work for His honor and His glory. That’s the goal, but instead we are chasing a dream.
Don’t be fooled, God sees our hearts and knows where our motivations truly are. We are not here to enjoy the ride and get all that we can. Our purpose in life is to bring the Kingdom of God down to earth. We are to exhibit His love, mercy, and generosity to others. Anything less is unacceptable to God. Our souls were made to shine, but too often we simply hide the light. The result is a weak church oblivious to the power available to them. We become toothless and soul-less. We all must ask ourselves, “Are we pursuing the American dream or the mission of Christ?” Which will you choose?