Thursday, May 10, 2007

I was sitting on a couch today, texting and playing a game while taking a break from finding a job and a place to live, and was taken back to a conversation I’d had at Olivet about why the surrounding area hates us so much.

“We do a service projects out there, how could they hate us?” was the question asked.

“One service project in a year,” I began, “is not enough. We should be sending people out there to do weekly or even daily service projects.”

The state of this world is the fault of the apathetic, self-righteous, self-centered… me.

How many times have I used the excuse “I would go, Lord, but I have to do my homework” which really means “I have to do my homework that I put off while I was hanging out with friends at Steak-and-Shake and playing video games and watching movies and spending time with my girlfriend and… and… and…” and you get the picture. I’ve always an excuse.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think that doing homework, building relationships with friends, and having time to do some relaxing and fun activities are all excellent things, we need to do them to survive. But how often do we seek out ways to serve our God by serving others? How often, really, do we commit to the great commission, to going out to all of the world (even if that part of the world is ten blocks from you) and make disciples by serving and showing the love and grace we’ve been given?

Sadly, the answer is not often enough.

I’m glad Jesus didn’t say to the Father, “yeah, Lord, that whole ‘go and call all nations back to me’ thing… yeah… I’m sorry, I just got so busy hanging out with James and John, and now I’ve got a meeting with Peter in twenty minutes, and I’ve got six big projects to build for the regional magistrate and I’m just so busy… but how about I go and talk to one Samaritan woman this year, that sound good? Ok, thanks.”

Some days I wonder how Christian we are and if we might be more hypocrite than not. I fear that far to often, we stand by and applaud as our colleagues do wonderful things and say, “man I’m glad God called them to that.”

Last I checked, he called us all to that.

This brings me to the interesting “call.” I’ve heard stories ranging from “God said he’d kill me right now if I didn’t go to Africa” all the way to “I looked up and saw that the clouds formed what looked like china and I knew that I was supposed to go there.” This call is something we wait for, often times because we want to do the will of God, and have been taught to be so afraid of doing what we’re “not called to do.”

Now don’t get me wrong here, I think it’s vitally important to find out what God’s will is for our life. But if you want to know, it’s not a road-map that God hands you when you’re “ready,” but a simple thing called “obedience.” Look, for example, at Christ’s life. He didn’t wait around for God to tell him “you go here now.” He went and got baptized to show his dedication to the Father, and the Father comforted Jesus, telling him and all other around about how well he was doing, and affirmed Christ’s actions. Jesus didn't get a "sign" from God or even feel "the call," he went out and did the things that God has asked for all of us to do. To be fully dedicated to God, to Love all others as we love ourselves. Jesus did that every day. We need to as well.

Really, the only call I know of is the one I intend to follow, because I believe that God will close any doors he does not want me walking through, if I'm truly looking for his will. I'm done waiting for a "call" in my life. I've found it. You can to.

The office, hospital, school, or church. All are places where we can cultivate relationships with other people. But don't be afraid to pack up shop and go to a foreign land. Become trained in the Word of Life, and in the customs and cultures of the people around. Be strong in Christ, and let God's hand guide.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Reflections from Ezra

Praise God, His faithfulness endures.
These words just hit me as I read the first three chapters of Ezra, this morning. I've not read Ezra before, but from what I'm seeing so far, it's the story of the rebuilding of the temple under king Cyrus. King Nebuchadnezzar had exiled Israel, but king Cyrus sent them all back to their home, giving instructions to them to rebuild the temple and for all neighboring nations and peoples to assist the Israelites in any way possible with the reconstruction of the Temple of God. Cyrus returned Israels treasures to them, and even gave special permission to aid their work in obeying God. It's really amazing to see a king, who was not of Israel, glorify and obey God. Really cool.
So the Israelites start to head back and finally get to their towns, and assemble in Jerusalem for a singular purpose: rebuilding the altar of God. The place of sacrifice, the place at which they glorify God was the first thing they made. The Israelites were afraid of the others around them, for whatever reason, but worked to give God glory despite their fear. That just hit me pretty hard... I mean, really, how often do I stop caring about what the people around me think, and truly live to glorify God? Not often enough. I have to admit that God has been teaching me to love him more than I love the attention and approval of others, but I still falter, I still fail. I love this strong faith in God. The Israelites could have been killed for sacrificing to God, and were left out in the open, as construction on the foundation had not even begun as of yet, but worked to obey. I need that. I need to work to obey God, and not others around me whose opinions I shamefully value as higher than my Lord's.
But then I look at Israel's history... they were exiled for a reason, generally it was disobedience that got them the boot from their lands and homes. I know that feeling. But God brought them back time and again, as I know He does with my wayward heart. Just as He allowed the Israelites to come back to Him and to live for him, so He does with me. Allows me the chance to be rebuilt in an image pleasing to God and to be further refined. wow. "I don't know where I'd be without God's love" is a lie. I know exactly where I'd be. I'd be in exile somewhere, mocked and harassed, out of my element, openly receiving hostility. But I'm not. I'm safe and warm in His arms, learning His will and being allowed to glorify Christ as Lord.
True story.
I love my Jesus, He's never failed me, and I know that it's not ever going to happen.