However, I realized the other day that in some ways I have been. I am speaking specifically in regard to the Church. Until I came to Australia, I hadn't realized how much I had allowed many of the negative things I have seen within churches to cloud my perception of the Church. Honestly, I am a pretty difficult person to offend, at least I have become that way thanks to the grace of God, but I have seen a lot of ugliness in churches over the years. What you may ask? My response: it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what I have seen, what I have experienced, or how it all happened. Over the last couple years God has really done a work on the inside of me to really think about what it looks like to live sold out for Him, to take the Bible and live it. The Amplified Bible translation of Luke 9:23 reads, "And He said to all, 'If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse, and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to my example in living and, if need be, in dying also]." Those are some pretty powerful words and require some serious self-evaluation. If I really want to follow Christ as I claim to, I have some real work to do. It is my heart to examine how Jesus lived His life and to follow in His footsteps, to live as He lived. I really can't do any less. But, I have realized over the last couple weeks that for some reason I have come to expect less of the Church. Somewhere along the way I have made allowances for the Church to fail at being Jesus to the masses, even though I may not have given up on being Christ-like myself.
I had allowed myself to become jaded and without expectation for the Church. Maybe it was some sort of defense mechanism to avoid pain. I am really not sure, but I do know that it isn't right. Jesus does not want us to be jaded or dulled or apathetic. He wants and expects us to be earth-shakers, world-changers, mountain-movers, barrier-breakers. He wants us to love radically and live justly.
I have become tired of hearing people saying that they admire what I am doing and they wish they had the courage to do something like that. Why? I don't deserve to be admired anymore than the next guy. I am simply being obedient to do what God has called me to do. I can do no less. When people ask me why I am doing what I am doing, I simply think, "How can I not?" I was created for such a time as this...and so were you. No, maybe you were not called to hop on a plane and fly halfway around the world to serve. But, you were called. God has called each and every one of us. It is our responsibility to choose not to live jaded, going through the motions in a humdrum life.
My hope in the future of the Church has been restored not because of any massive movement or revival but because I know how much God wants to reveal Himself to this world, and I am choosing to have confidence that His children will rise to the challenge. So, if you haven't heard it before, here's your call! "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9 Here is your opportunity to take any blinders off. Here is your opportunity to find out where God wants to you to be and to do it full on! Whether that means that you invest yourself wholeheartedly in raising God-fearing children, in educating the next generation with Godly truths, in stocking the shelves of your local food pantry, in providing a family-less child a family, in using your business smarts to bring finances into God's kingdom, in baking cookies for your neighbors, or even flying around the world to help others find the wholeness that comes in Christ. You are never too young or too old. If we are doing God's will, He will never fail to equip us.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24