This title is one that's been very real to me lately: what is my purpose in Christ? As a follower of Jesus Christ if I don't get this right then everything I do is meaningless. I must put my purpose where it matters. I've been trying to separate my cultural identity as an American from my Christ-identity as a Christian. It's amazing to me how much value I place in the things of this world. I like my comfort: my coffee in the mornings, my nice clean and soft sheets, my hot showers, my nice clothes. I like to be seen as a respectful woman who others think well of. Who doesn't? The problem is when these things begin to rule one's life. One's decisions become based off of what he or she will receive from doing something, rather than how will this please my Savior? And then what happens when these things are removed? If people no longer think well of us? If we go bankrupt? If we remain infertile when we desperately want a child? If someone we love dies? If a friend betrays? If life comes crashing down on us? We find ourselves faced with the stark reality that life is very hard and often disappoints.
Perhaps I've been pondering this much more lately because of the news. So many Christians around the world are being slaughtered in the name of Christ. They live in uncertainty, often vagabonds without a home. They are people like us, but living in a very different context. Because of our comfortable living we often do everything we can to remain Christians AND remain comfortable. We say, "I follow Jesus", but don't once stop to ask him, "Lord, what would You have me do?" As I read through the gospel of John I am convicted and saddened at my own selfish heart. Too many times I throw a pity party when life gets hard, instead of living in thankfulness that I have a Savior who chose me. A Savior who promises to walk with me through the mountains. A Savior who promises he will NEVER leave me or forsake me...no matter how bad things get. He sees my tears and he understands. His love for me is unconditional, and it's because of his love that I want to get uncomfortable. I want to learn how to serve him more. It's because of his love that when I sin I don't remain in it. I get up knowing that I am forgiven. Sometimes I find myself stuck in sin, but the Holy Spirit reaches in my heart and tugs at it until I finally let go and find freedom once again.
The biggest misconception of Christianity in the United States, I believe is this: It's about going to church every Sunday, being a nice person, and trying as best we can to keep to the Christian checklist while looking fantastic doing it--a checklist that is often man-made. It was this check list that Jesus preached so passionately against! The Pharisees were so angry when he healed a man on their Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6). They cared nothing for compassion, but for rules! They didn't associate with the 'sinners.' They were too good for that. I am saddened at the sight of this in our own churches today. They are mostly middle class. We don't even try to relate to those different than us. The love of Christ is often missing in place of high expectations-just waiting for someone to mess up so we can pounce on them. What happened to grace? "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8
The church has become too churchy today. How many of us are going out onto the battlefield of dying sinners? Have we forgotten that we were once bloodied, dying in the trenches when Jesus came, knelt down, and said "Follow me? And I will make you a fisher of men!" He did not say,"Follow me, and I will make you well so that you can forget about all of these other bloodied people and become a nice, comfortable Christian.
Harriet Tubman makes me think of this picture: of someone who finds freedom, AND cares enough to help others also find it. She escaped slavery September 17th of 1849 and would subsequently make 13 trips back to rescue over 70 other slaves, risking her life and new-found freedom. Harriet Tubman was also a Christian.
Do you have a feel-good faith or a faith that has the scars to prove it? Following Jesus is not easy. He requires all of us. Not perfection, but a whole-hearted devotion. Maybe you have high morals and have done well in your personal achievements, but have you gone to the battlefield and held the hand of dying sinners? Or have you beat them over the head with your stick of moral expectations? Do you study the Scriptures with others so that they too can understand your hope in Christ? Do you go to the bars, the AA meetings, the prisons, the hospitals, the nursing homes, the foster children, the parents of foster children, the battlefields and reach down in love and compassion? Do you care enough? Jesus preached not against those without faith, he preached against the religious. Those who had faith, but failed to live it out in love. Are you religious or are you a follower of Jesus?
I write these things because it is the burden of my heart lately. I've looked in the mirror and I don't like what I see. If I am not sharing the inspired word of God with people weekly I need to ask why? It's not about being a Bible scholar. It's about sharing what Scriptures you do know, and seeking to grow each day in your knowledge of God and His truth found in the Bible. That takes place often not in church, but in your home, in places of darkness, with those who might be too afraid to step into a church building for fear of condemnation! The church is not becoming stronger because people are relying on the church as an organization to reach people, rather than becoming an active part of the body of Jesus Christ! I love going to church and finding fellowship, but if that's all I do then I need to question why. If I'm not willing to share my belief in God with ANYONE, If I'm not willing to love people where they are at, if I say NO to the trenches, if I care more about having my kids involved in a hundred different things than making Christ the priority, if my career takes precedence over where God might want me to go: it is meaningless...and one must ask:
HOW REAL IS MY FAITH IN JESUS?
Faith is not to be a comfortable one. It's to be a well-worn one, and if it is-you will have the scars to prove it.
You will be okay with the fact that it will hurt at times.
You won't be afraid to walk into the darkness and shine, even through all your broken shards of glass--Christ will still shine through you if you let him.
Read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John and you cannot deny what Jesus asks of you if you have said,
"Yes, I will follow you."
Father, please bless this reader and place in them a renewed faith if they have fallen away or forgotten what it means to live for You. If they need more grace for themselves and others, please fill them with Yours. If they are living in sin, chained and hopeless, please give them the strength to get out and the courage to accept Your freedom--though it might mean losing many earthly things and pleasures. We give YOU the honor, glory, and thanks for anything good You do through us. Thank you Lord!
is a rural Missouri preacher's wife who stays at home with her son Winston and 4 foster sons whom she and her husband are in the process of adopting! (Looking forward to the day I can put their names on here!)