Saturday, September 23, 2017

Greater Purpose

Since I was a child I have wanted to make a difference in the world. I grew up watching cartoons about superheroes who devoted their lives to the service of others. Having strong Christian parents, I leaned about Jesus, and his life of sacrifice to save humanity. I saw my mom and dad's (often thankless or even unnoticed) sacrifices and service to others. All of this combined to instill in me a desire, almost a need, to make a difference. I knew I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and I believe I'm far from alone in that desire.

As Christians we believe God has a plan. We believe that God is doing a great work that started before the foundations of the earth were laid. And we believe that some people are helping in that work.

I remember several years ago my friend and pastor Cameron McDonald was preaching about God's plan for our lives. I'm paraphrasing from memory, but he basically said that God has a plan for the world, and it's going to happen. What we have is an opportunity to be a part of that work, but don't be confused. God doens't *need* us, we *get* to be a part of it. If we choose to reject our part of the plan God will simply give someone else the opportunity that was first offered to us. 

That's some pretty heavy stuff right there. God is letting us have a hand in His work. I used to love helping my dad work on the truck when I was little. He could have done the job much quicker and easier without me "helping," but he allowed me to be a part of it. And you know what? I was better for it. Surely God's plan works the same way. We'll be better if we find our part and do it.

But so many Christians are confused as to what to do. They want to serve God and do a good work, but aren't quite sure exactly what that is. And, at least to some degree, I think most fear that God's plan involves missionary work to some remote, third-world country where they'd have to eat bugs and sleep on a dirt floor. As a result, most of the Christian life in America consists, almost exclusively, of going to church on Sunday morning. But there has to be more, right? Surely God didn't call us all to be pew warmers. How do we get in on God's work?

A passage of scripture recently jumped out at me. I love the way it is phrased in the Message translation: 

"Jesus said, "Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God's works."
‭‭John‬ ‭6:29‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Throw your lot in with Jesus. Commit everything to Him. Go "all in" with Jesus. It makes me think of his disciples. They left their jobs, and opened themselves up to great risk of reputation and life, to follow Jesus. All but one of the disciples died unnatural deaths. Most were tortured and killed for throwing their lot in with Jesus, and not backing down. 

Here in America we don't have to worry about being tortured and killed for being a practicing Christian. By comparison we have it very easy. I have had the opportunity to talk to several missionaries, and Christians from other countries. They all say that America should be the easiest place to be a practicing Christian. In so many other countries they are concerned about their physical well being that it monopolizes their thoughts and time. In America we are safe and well fed. What else do we have to do but praise God for our blessings, and study and learn more about Him? 

What is keeping you from throwing your lot in with the One that God has sent?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017