"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." - 1 Corinthians 4:20 (NIV)
Over the past several weeks, the Holy Spirit has been speaking loudly and urgently to me about being a responsible believer. About not just knowing God's Word or hearing it, but living it. I've studied my Bible more in the last year than all my prior years put together and my eyes are opening to the fact that I'm a hypocrite! A big, fat, think she knows-it-all, judgemental, critical, hateful, spiteful, sinful HYPOCRITE!! Ouch!!!
First, I have to say "Thank You" to God for pointing this out and for the people and means He has used to open my eyes. The messages at church the last three weeks have been aimed directly at my heart. I spent most of last Sunday's service in tears. And there have been a couple of devotionals in my email that have hit home for me, as well.
Three Sunday's ago, the Senior Pastor taught a message out of Hebrews about wells...yes, wells. He said there are two truths about them: "If you don't dig deep enough, you won't hit water" and " If all you do is dig, you'll never enjoy the water". In other words, if I'm doing (service) without knowing (Bible Study), then I'm just scratching the surface - not hitting water. If I'm knowing without doing, then I'm showing off - not enjoying the water. Being a responsible believer is both knowing AND doing. The Pastor gave a quote by Tom Fuller: "To sum up, then - let the Law of God, planted in your heart, express itself through your attitudes, your actions, your service, your worship and your character. Hebrews in a nutshell."
Two Sunday's ago, the Senior Pastor's son taught a message out of Matthew about the two roads to holiness (constant transformation). The first road, which is the road the Old Testament gives us, is distancing myself from anything or anyone unclean, unholy or disgusting. In other words, sacrifice over mercy. The second road, which is the road Jesus walked, is to have mercy and love toward anything or anyone unclean, unholy or disgusting. Mercy over sacrifice. Jesus wasn't afraid to touch people before He healed them. He wasn't afraid or embarrassed to hang out with the "tax collectors" and "sinners"...the "unclean" according to the Pharisees. Being a responsible believer is having love and mercy for ALL people - Christians, non-Christians, homeless, unemployed, unlovable, friends, enemies...everyone!
Then this past Sunday, the message was about being disciples of Christ. The Pastor spoke about the mission Jesus gave us. In Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV), Jesus tells us what that mission is: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.". I am called to surrender two things: my life and my influence. As a Christian, I am a POSSESSION of Christ's. My life is not my own. I am called to share my faith, to lever my influence, to share Jesus with those who don't know Him. Why? Because: THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN ME! THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN ME! THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN ME! The thing that brought me to tears was a video made by the comedian Penn Jillette, who is a professed atheist. Someone had the guts to present him with a New Testament Bible and he had this to say about it: "I don't respect people that don't proselytize (witness/attempt to convert someone). How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?" That last sentence went straight to and through my heart. It's bringing a lump to my throat as I write this! I haven't been professing my faith, surrendering my life and my influence to Jesus. Oh sure, most of my friends know I go to church, I serve in the nursery, go to small group, study the Bible. They know my "religion" but they don't know my testimony, they don't know my relationship with Jesus. I haven't shared the good news of Jesus with them. How much do I have to hate them? How much of a hypocrite am I? Being a responsible believer is sharing the love of Jesus and His sacrifice with those who don't know Him as their Savior.
I desire to weave my beliefs into my life. I don't want to be someone who knows what to do, can see the need for others to do it but can't or won't implement the changes in my own life. It's what I've done in the past and why I call myself a hypocrite. I am asking God to meld the two truths together in me, to send my feet down the second road and to teach me to give to Jesus the two things that I find it the hardest to surrender to Him. And, I'm asking for accountability from those of you who know me the best. May you see me knowing AND doing, showing mercy over sacrifice and speaking to others about Jesus and His death on the cross to give us salvation from our sins. Please...hold me accountable to become a responsible believer.
"Man, in the image of God, has a purpose - to be in relationship to God, who is there. Man forgets his purpose and thus he forgets who he is and what life means." - Francis Schaeffer
Heavenly Father, there's more to life than me. Remind me of that each and every day. Help me to not just speak and write about a righteous life but to live it. Let my actions be consistent with my beliefs. I need You to lead me, strengthen me and fill me with the desire to share the good news of Your Son. Teach me, O Lord, to be a responsible believer. I ask this in Jesus' precious name, Amen.