10 July 2011

carded and discarded

I'm getting tired of trying to process the notion that God wants to use us. It's as though we are envisioning our lives as something that are valuable only to the point that we have accomplished some piece of God's will, and then we are discarded so that the next part of God's will can happen. So, I think that it simultaneously gives us too high a view of our own significance, and too low a view of the amount of love God has for each of us.

Rich Mullins once said, ". . . and eventually we'll all be dead, and it will probably matter very little any of us actually lived - except to God who made us."

The notion that we 'do ministry' is a way of segmenting our lives so that we can be a disciple at certain points, but not completely. If our entire existence matters mostly (at some point only) to God, then we must pause to ask what he wants from us. And if he made us who we are, then the way to bring him pleasure and glory, as well as discover the fulfillment of all of the passion he has put within us, is to become who we truly are.

It appears that much of church is defined with one of two extremes on this. We either make the experience of discipleship so 'non-threatening' that it matters very little if we follow Jesus or not, or else we make it so that discipleship is framed as a complete break with any personal distinction of the individual at all. There seems to be a life more abundant that is found between these two poles, where passion and purpose are discovered around the uniqueness of the person.

N. T. Wright said of the transformation of character, "This revolutionary vision of virtue thus enables us to shift attention quite drastically away from the idea that Christian behavior in the world is basically about 'good works' in the sense of good moral living, keeping the rules, and so on, and toward the idea that Christian behavior is basically about 'good works' in the sense of doing things which bring God's wisdom and glory to birth in our world. (After You Believe, 71, emphasis in original).

Now that I have set up that context, let me say that I do in fact think that God does use our lives to bring about his purposes and advance his kingdom in the world. My point here is simply that we become too focused on that narrow understanding of things, assuming that we are not spiritually successful aside from some specific accomplishments in our lives. But I happen to believe that God loves us more than our dos and don'ts - much more than we love ourselves. And he is looking for a people who will live as he made them, on the higher plane of his kingdom.

I think that is why he set eternity in the human heart (Ecc. 3:11), bestows his Spirit so that we might see visions and dream dreams (Joel 2:28), and shows us himself that we might be filled with laughter (Ps. 126:2).

I think that Scot McKnight has it here as well, "Forget 'church' and forget 'Sunday morning service' and forget 'Christians' and forget church history's major mistakes, and for right now just connect these terms: Jesus and dream and your One.Life" (One.Life, 22, emphasis in original).

Thus, it is about being who we are in the place that we are . . . all to the glory of God and the renewal of heaven and earth. And then to follow the desires of our hearts, he begins to strip away our phony image of ourselves and gives us a life more abundant. ". . . and if God wants you to go to Egypt, he will provide eleven jealous brothers and they will sell you into slavery" (Rich).

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