We are so eager to go out and create a legacy of some sort, to change lives with the gospel, to minister effectively, pray for revival, and to make systems better. All of these are wonderful, godly desires – if they’re from the heart. But (and I ask myself this same question) how many of you are doing that SAME thing, on a SMALLER scale, with the family, loved ones, friends, bank teller, hair stylist, recluse neighbor, etc. in your lives? How can God entrust us with the bigger things in life if we can’t be faithful in the little things He’s so abundantly blessed us with and put in front of us? Or how can we even be as effective? Food for thought.
On both a bigger and smaller scale, as I mentioned earlier, these are wonderful, God-given desires. But, we have to guard the intentions of our hearts. Because anything beautiful can become twisted. We see it everyday around us – this tendency to worship the creation rather than the Creator. We all have this struggle between being Pharisaical and pursuing/living out holiness.
Each of us, to varying degrees, is a Pharisee. We’re religious hypocrites. We’re assured of our own righteousness because of what we do and do not do, instead of what Jesus had done for us. Anytime we read a verse about the Pharisees, we need to realize that they were the ‘Bible guys’ – they were the serious, devoted Biblicists….
It’s not just about doing, but why we do it. Are you seeking to do good for others and drown yourself in ministry because you’ll feel better about yourself, out of duty or because you feel you’ll earn more of God’s love, grace and forgiveness? Are you doing it to prove a point or prove yourself to others?
That is such an impossible feat and crushing goal/burden. You’re doing it from a fear – and as Scripture tells us, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18 NKJV)
You can’t earn any more or any less of God’s love and grace (insert Romans 6:1 here). He paid it in full on the cross. It is finished. There’s such freedom in that to then to fall more in love with Christ and joyfully live out and serve others with the purpose of showing them a glimpse of His perfect love and holiness.
Look at how Jesus did community and missions with every kind of person. One of the main problems with the church in America today is that we teach people to be narrow-minded with all these “do’s” and don’ts” instead of showing and teaching them from the Bible what it looks like to pursue holiness on the straight and narrow path. “For the gate is narrow and the way is HARD that leads to LIFE, and those who find it are FEW” (Matt. 7:14). On that note, we often want to interpret Christian living through our American lifestyle. Or we’ve been told that Jesus is like Tinker Bell – just sprinkling the love dust – and that He wants our happiness in the way of health, wealth and prosperity. Many are turned off and disillusioned by this lie that looks “good.” We’ve managed to Americanize “Christianity.” We see in churches, especially in the Bible belt that it’s become our social feel-good-about-my-spirituality-and-meet-people club. But on the flip side of that – we can’t become bitter, blame or discredit entirely the effect of the church in people’s lives. Who are we to play God in that sweeping determination? And we most certainly shouldn’t use it to fuel our pride and justify ourselves.
I don’t know about you, but more and more I realize how I am my greatest hinderance and enemy to pursuing Christ and Christ-likeness. And the longer I live and am a Christian, the less I feel I know and progressed. I pray you feel the urgency and call — to then pray for more of the Holy Spirit and live it out. It’s HARD. The apostle Paul said he had to beat his body black and blue (not sure if that’s literal or figuratively, but you get the point). I pray that I will discipline my heart to look at every choice/action/thought (from the smallest to the biggest) through the lens of eternity and not from my short-sighted, selfish one.