Friday, November 9, 2012

I Am Lonely, Can We Walk Together?

Sometimes I feel as if I have little value or I haven’t really accomplished much. Years ago I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie and remember Michael Landon’s character talking about the need to leave something behind that would last beyond his lifetime as he created quality furniture. I thought at the time, “Right on!” We all want to be remembered, but the question becomes, what will we be remembered for if we are remembered at all?

I have had a number of epiphany moments as I have gotten older. An epiphany moment is a moment in life where a light bulb goes off, an “OH Yeah, I never saw that before,” moment. I am sure others have had them and if you haven’t, well, you probably need to do a self examination of your attitude. One of the moments I have come to realize, especially when looking at agencies, organizations, churches, individuals who seem to have all of the luck, get all of the money, have all of the people but in reality, do very little for the poor, the needy, the orphan and the widow, (the population groups God COMMANDS us to serve) is that, I just can’t do it all, and frankly, there are some things I suck at. If one needs a business man to solicit funds, to kiss someone’s rear and make them feel good, I am not the guy for that. It is a part of my environment, my surroundings, I am who God made me to be but I am not in my nature a butt kisser. My nature is to be straight forward, to the point and direct. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, I actually hate confrontation, but as hard as it is, truth is always more valuable than good feelings. I have seen the benefits of that attitude, I have seen the disadvantages. The Bible talks about the different gifts, temperament, attitudes we all have. We are who God made us, that don’t mean we take on and embrace the negatives but what is negative and what is a God given character and gifts can be debated.

I am concerned, we live in a society where we honor some people, some institutions, some concepts based on what we like not on what is from God. While there is a natural tendency to do that, I am convinced our support should be measured in what is being done that is based on Biblical concepts. The bottom line is, are we doing what God commands? Are the things we are supporting, the things God has ordained? It isn’t just as Keith Green used to say, a matter of giving money, it is a matter of giving yourself, your time and your pocket book.

As I have grown older, I have found benefit in understanding my own limitation but, it is also at times frustrating because I know there are often things that need to be done, can be done in a better way than I can do it but aren’t because I need people to walk with me. To see others suffer because of my ineffectiveness hurts.

We live in a time where we are in need of each other more than we sometimes like to admit. The Bible uses the analogy that we are” a body with many parts.” Each part has a specific purpose, to be used in a specific way for various functions. God understands that we need to work together to accomplish His work, unfortunately working together is a concept many have lost in an era where the focus is on self. We like to do things our way, in our own time, without sacrifice and effort. Kind of strange when we consider that the Bible speaks favorably of those who go through difficulty and sacrifice. We all seem to want the credit, as if we were the ones who deserve it.

In the brick and mortar church I pastor, Mosaic Wichita, we frequently say, God is good, all the time, and all of the time, God is good. Problems occur for us when we think we are the ones doing good. I will forever appreciate my love of Flannery O’Connor and the understanding of her work as taught me by Bev Holmskog. The reading, contemplation of the story A Good Man is Hard To Find, especially in contemplation with the Bible passage that states ‘There are none good, no, none but one,” along with the concepts of people wanting the credit and glory for everything is not lost on me.

In many church planning classes, seminary and or other ministry training programs, the research clearly shows, the way to grow a church is based on what people get out of it, not on what that body is doing based on Scriptural concepts. It is more about if I feel good than whether or not am I being challenged to do what God expects. The bottom line, and I challenge anyone to prove me and show me wrong, the body of Christ, the Church, is to be about doing ministry and sharing the Gospel, as a priority in that is ministry to and involving the poor, needy, orphan, widow and those who are hurting, for whatever reasons. Show me a church in the New Testament that did not take on and do this work seriously. The authors of scripture praise the work and all of scripture is breathed and inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The question for all Christ Followers is this, are we willing to sacrificially, if need be, do the things God has commanded us to do? Is this a point of priority, love, compassion, and mercy to the poor and needy, orphan, widow and the hurting? We all need to seriously look at whether or not our relationship with Christ is real? We need to evaluate our actions. The Bible says we will know who real followers of Jesus are based on two things, 1) Who do we say He is regarding His life, death and resurrection, and 2) Do we do the things He has commanded us to do. A part of the answer, I believe, to number one is the realization that Jesus had a deep and passionate love for sinners, also, the poor, hurting, outcast and so forth. In regards to the answer to number two, some speculate that the Bible speaks of serving, loving, redeeming, providing for, helping the poor some 2,000 or more times. If the Bible talks about something once, I believe it makes it important, imagine if it talks about things some 2,000 times? If taking Jesus and our walk with Him seriously, shouldn’t we be about doing and supporting the serious work of Jesus? Is it easy? Heck no, if it was Jesus would have never told us to ‘take up our cross and follow him daily.” But you know what, that is exactly what he told us to do, knowing full well what the cross implied.

Unfortunately many of us want something out of Christianity and we just aren’t getting it, some have quit for this reason. Maybe we don’t get what we want; don’t experience the relationship with Jesus He wants for us, including having joy in difficult times, because we aren’t doing our part. While we are saved by faith alone, we can’t deny or walk away from the words of James, Jesus brother, when he said “faith without works is dead.” Neither can we rationally ignore or explain away the words of Jesus when he says “what we have done for the least of these we have done for me.” This is especially true when you see that those considered lambs, worthy to spend eternity in Heaven is based on what one is willing to do.

I realize I am so far from perfect it is ridiculous. I also realize there is a journey I am on, a journey called life. Through it, I want to become as much like Jesus as possible. Unfortunately, the closer I get to Jesus, the more I realize I am further away than I should to be. I need my brothers and sisters in my faith to walk along side me, help me, work together to accomplish more. I want this thing called The Family of God to really be a family. I can’t do it alone; if we are honest about it, we will realize, none of us can.

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