The Life-Giving Call to Follow

 

Could God be trying to speak above the clamor? What is He inviting you to?

Important aspects of our calling:

 
To honor God
 
When we understand that God loves us, trust that His intentions are always good, and believe that He is powerful enough to fulfill His promises, we will obey Him. Maybe. Honoring God cuts deep to the intentions of our hearts and attitudes. Basic Christianity means to be a disciple or follower of Jesus, but there is no other kind of Christianity. I read an article this week where the author, Dr, Anthony Bradley, said, “being a ‘radical,’ ‘missional,’ Christian is slowly becoming the ‘new legalism.’ ”  “I continue to be amazed by the number of youth and young adults who are stressed and burnt out from the regular shaming and feelings of inadequacy if they happen to not be doing something unique and special,” he went on to say. “The sad result is that many young adults feel ashamed if they ‘settle’ into ordinary jobs, get married early and start families, live in small towns, or as 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, ‘aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] affairs, and to work with [their] hands.’ For too many millennials their greatest fear in this life is being an ordinary person with a non-glamorous job, living in the suburbs, and having nothing spectacular to boast about. . . living out one’s faith became narrowly celebratory only when done in a unique and special way, a ‘missional’ way.”  

There is no distinction between Christianity and radical Christianity. During our many years serving as missionaries overseas, I never recall thinking I was earning points with God or that I was a special category of Christian. We also never imposed on our girls the stifling performance anxiety to be good missionary pastor’s children. I was simply following Jesus and wanted them to know and follow Him from the heart. Condemnation and “ought to’s” can lead to burnout, but a relationship fosters warm, glowing passion with the ebb and flow of resting in one’s presence and laboring in love. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Isn’t that beautiful and freeing? 

A life that honors God IS a life that matters.
 
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” – Westminster Shorter Catechism
 
To serve others through love
 
When we step out in faith to follow Jesus, our greatest risk is losing our narcissistic lives to authentic service and love. We gain incomparably greater treasures, treasures that transcend monetary value. The world needs examples of Christians who are uncompromising with respect to truth and the Gospel while they lovingly serve in whatever sphere they hope to influence. The body of Christ needs to become adept at articulating truth with kindness today.  
 
In 1787 William Wilberforce followed Jesus into the ring of politics when he argued for the abolition of slavery in the English House of Parliament. He was defeated over and over again. It took him twenty years to win. He was prepared to enter the ring as often as it took to prevail. Wilberforce was gracious, humble and loving. Even when opponents physically attacked him twice in the street, he remained gracious and never vilified his opponents. Wilberforce was never a fanatic; he was a follower of Jesus. We should follow his example as we stand up to the issues and injustices in our culture today.
 
As Gandalf said, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” 

When we follow Jesus, we find out He is going somewhere. He is on a mission to seek and save the lost from the dark captivity of this world. It is His mission, stated long before the term “missional” was ever trendy. Promising to be with us, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” 
 
To have abundant life
 
Jesus came to give us abundant life. He created all good things for us to enjoy, so why do we turn our freedom into legalism? We go through the sorrow of repentance, followed by the great joy of forgiveness and new life. Make a list of everything that is life giving to you. Don’t only be spiritual. Yes, the Bible is our source of life, joy and hope, but consider the daily, practical, simple joys as well. Taking a walk with the person you love after the rain, getting caught in the rain and dancing, eating fresh strawberries on the porch swing, reading a favorite book, running in preparation for a race and the euphoria that comes after you finish, listening to your child share their thoughts about the day before you pray together at night, laughing with friends late into the evening, meeting the child you have been waiting to adopt, praying with someone to receive Christ, talking about the meaning of life over coffee at a cafe. Go ahead, make your list. And then realize how His grace and truth permeate every area of life, not just the “spiritual”. Something sacred is at stake at each moment. His call is deep, far-reaching and full of joy.
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