Thursday, August 20, 2015

We have as a church often addressed how God wants us to care for "stuff" but He wants us to also care for each other. When it comes to serving God and serving church community and each other, I can direct and coordinate and teach in a "how to" manner, but I cannot give you a love and passion for Christ or your fellow man. Some of you will never bridge that great divide, and will live for self and self pleasure your whole life and whose verbal epitaph will be merely "depart from me I never knew you." There must be a supernatural change of true redemption and a real grasp of the gospel, the cross, and what God did for you. If you do not spiritual clutch those ideals, you will never love Jesus enough to move you.

There must be a real understanding of these things...a real inward and outward embrace of both Christ and the community of believers that He has assigned you to. There must be a love and compassion that is generated not from duty, but wholly from a love generated by inward spiritual transformation and a very real handle on just what he saved you to and what He save you from. Sometimes it seems the ones who should have the most to be thankful for are the slowest to live like it.

Our compassion...our 'love for others' has to be more than a feeling...we know that! It requires our talents, our time, our minds. It requires sacrifice and there is simply no way around that concept. We can write a check, but it is meaningless if we aren't willing to get behind it with some sweat and blood! Sadly, because we tend to view compassion through the lens of emotion alone, we can often tend to do more harm than good. We can inadvertently lead people off the cliff while compassionately directing them away from the danger of oncoming traffic. What difference do we make then when they are still just as dead?

Through the years I have known many folks who fancy themselves as 'evangelists-at-large' but still struggle intensely with personal demons. Those of financial abuses, marital strife, bondage issues like pornography, issues of pride and rebellion against all authority, unwillingness to take their place in the body of Christ within a community and they complain about it when they do. Yet through all of this, these same folks can be the first to want to be the leader of direct others to Christ, a Christ that apparently they do not effectively know personally themselves! This is evident by their lives! So where will these folks lead these potential converts? To be just like them? Jesus speaks of this in Matthew  23:15..."Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!" How we love to be "the man" but are so quick to dismiss personal servant hood, humility, participation and submission to others.

This is not said to discourage personal evangelism, nor to paint a picture of elitism on behalf of those in active ministry. However, denial of scriptural basics like humility, community involvement, transparency, and accountability cannot be dismissed on the way to the mission field! Body and lifestyle must follow our professed love, compassion, repentance and salvation!

We can just as fast resign from the battle because we want to whine about our shortcomings and failures. "I'm such a loser!...I am such a screw-up!...I can't serve God this way..." mean like the apostles were, and most every other great servant of God in scripture was? Man, some of us need to quit whining, stop being a spiritual baby and repent and fall in love with Jesus! God can work with you, but the prideful Pharisee He will not.

Our hands must work in harmony with our minds and hearts. We must move beyond just "feeling for" the lost and needing, and begin to actually identify with them. But the cost for that is much higher, for there is no insulation nor 'personal space' allotted for that kind of ministry. It's up close, costly, and messy! It must eventually take the form of physical flesh and blood involvement. Sooner or matter how much air power we send in and missiles we launch from afar, we will have to send in ground troops. There has to be 'boots on the ground.'

If we are going to "identify" with the lost, it means we will have to feel the same pain they feel. It will mean oft loneliness, discouragement, humility, and despair. It means we will have to suffer with them. And the fact remains again, that many of us are so very unwilling to go that far. We can do it under constraint of appearances and peer pressure from our fellow church mates but we don't really love them, relate to them, or have that level of compassion. And that problem originates in the fact that we are amiss in our relationship with Christ! We feel bad because we feel bad. We feel guilty because we do not truthfully have a heart for God and our fellow man. But instead of repenting and doing whatever has to be done to change our hearts, minds, and living, we prefer to sit and cry in our wet diapers of self -pity!

The bottom line in God's desire for our stewardship is not that He somehow needs us, or the whole "salvation-on-earth" thing isn't going to work without our help, but rather that through the process of growing in our love and commitment...even through the stumbles and failures, that we fall in love more and more with Him and the rest of His children.