Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Unexpected Verdict

Dan was a successful attorney, but he was not as successful at life. He arrived at my office on a Monday and proceeded to ask for the best advice I could give him about why “faith should matter”. He wanted an answer immediately. But, I asked him to give me some time. And, so, I spent several days thinking of what I should say.

The night before our next meeting, I awoke and wrote two phrases on the pad sitting on the nightstand. They were “Love Jesus” and “Love Like Jesus”. I couldn’t think of anything more important for those of us who call ourselves Christian. It is not enough that we know Jesus and say we want to live like him. We need to put our energies into loving him, knowing him, understanding him, becoming like him. And, then we live our energies in the world loving like he did for those who are the most forgotten and the least of these our brothers and sisters.

After sharing these phrases with my friend, I watched as his life changed. It was not my words or wisdom, but the simplicity of God working in him that transformed his priorities and life. He began to read his Bible more, attended one Bible and life study after another. He became a regular in the church and volunteered to serve in multiple serving opportunities. He also joined a small, accountability group that provided a new approach to community.

But, that was not enough for Dan. Several months went by until Dan resigned from his law firm to take the directorship of a community ministry association that ministers to the needs of the under-resourced. It was a huge life decision, but one that provided a new joy and direction for his life. Of course, it shocked everyone who had known the ‘old Dan’, but to those of us who had watched his life over the past months, we knew that he wanted more.

Over the next years, his life flourished and his work made a difference. Dan not only did amazing things in helping those in need, but he changed the spirit of his own life. And, maybe most importantly, he changed the spirit of his family, friends, small group and church. People could not help but notice what had happened in his life. They saw the changes, certainly, where Dan seemed more at peace, more content, but they also saw the joy and presence of mind that gave life purpose. But, nothing compared to when they saw the results of what God would do in another person’s life through the work of Dan’s newfound career and motives. The more he gave his life away in service to others, the more he found the real meaning of his life. Dan’s life had been successful; now it was significant.

So what about your life? Are you happy with the status quo, of getting by with the same routines that lead through lots of activity but with little results that you cling to. Have you felt the pressure to be everything to everyone, and you end up being nothing or, at least, very little to no one. And, when you do find something that gives you joy, excitement and a feeling of purpose, how does that translate into what God really needs for you to accomplish both for yourself but also within the Body of Christ.?

The questions keep coming because this is more than getting our calendars in order, our ‘to-do’ lists straight, or deciding what our next “volunteer” ministry will be. This is how we are wired up. This is the way God has framed our being. Apart from experiencing His presence, this IS what relationship in Christ is all about. It is the lynchpin of the Good News--- that Christ has transformed our lives and wants us to live as that transformed presence in the world.

My friend, this is not supposed to be complicated. You have much to offer in the Body of Christ. God has gifted you, yes, you, and I want to help you discover that passion area and the way he has wired you up to accomplish significant things for the kingdom. Yes, I said—You and significant things for the kingdom. It is the Gospel Imperative, but it is also part of your birthright as the Children of God.

Faith in Christ is more than signing in the attendance books on Sunday morning or doing your round in the 5th grade Sunday School wing (though those are both very important). It is about awakening the very image of God inside of you, and then sharing that with the world. And… (and this is a big ‘And’) as you are doing that in your life, others are doing the same thing, and the Body of Christ awakens to accomplish something significant.

Someone once asked a small, aging nun in one of the most depressed parts of the world why it was that, even with her failing health, she marched into the courtyard of the convent every morning to care for the countless sick and dying who lay on the makeshift stretchers. After all, she was far too aged and had paid her dues. After a moment, this wonderful woman of God (not unlike many we know with her love, doubts, fears and joys for Jesus) looked and said, “Because this is how they will see Christ… and how I will see Him, too.” Simple enough. Powerful… enough.

The convent in question was in Calcutta, India. The patients were AIDS victims, lepers and those dying of diseases with no names yet. The woman was Mother Theresa. She couldn’t do Everything…. So she did something. And, well, yes, the rest is history.

So, over the next weeks, months and years—Love Jesus and, then, Love Like Jeus. Go make history, my friend. The world needs you… now.

Be Salt and Light… You Matter!


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