It was reported that Judge Sotomayor, the recent nominee to the Supreme Court, has moments when she feels a sense of inadequacy for her work as a Federal Judge, not because she lacks credentials, but because she feels so human, so ordinary. This woman, born in a working class neighborhood of New York City, is not, to all appearances, in love with herself, unimpressed by her rise in power. She called herself, “an ordinary person blessed with extraordinary opportunities.”
Do you ever wonder if you’ve got what it takes to live your calling?
Does the challenge of living the life of a Christian seem impossible when you consider your capabilities?
When you compare yourself to another disciple, do you feel like a fraud, wondering if you’re even in the same league?
Left on our own, we will not live in a way that consistently honors our God and reflects His goodness to others. To those who insist on the innate goodness of human beings, I present this indictment: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV) David, praying for forgiveness after plotting the death of his friend and taking Bathsheba in adultery cries out to the Lord, “I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. … For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:3,5, NLT)
Before we can experience genuine spiritual transformation, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to bring crushing conviction of our sinfulness. Old revivalist churches had a ‘mourner’s bench.’ It was the place where those who were broken by their sins wept in contrition, made their confession, received the grace of Jesus Christ, and experienced the new birth of the Spirit. We don’t have those today! Instead we have the “boasting couch,” where we brag about our sins, to the world! “I’m OK, you’re OK,” we insist while we comfort each other in our lust, greed, and addictions. I’m all for compassion for sinners! I am one apart from God’s saving grace. I’m all for authenticity! It’s a hallmark of my ministry and I pray I’ll never forget ‘the pit from which He pulled me.’ BUT, I don’t want to leave people in their sins nor do I want to stay there!
The two passages quoted above do not end by bemoaning depravity! They also celebrate the goodness of God and His power to save! “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NIV)
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. … Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10, 12, NIV)
The 2nd chapter of Ephesians reminds us that because of Christ and the Spirit, being captives of sin and Self, is a past tense experience for disciples.
“It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. … It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. … He picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. … Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! … No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2:1-10, The Message) WOW!
Disciple, make your prayer like the prayer that Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal – “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. … I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:1,4, NIV) “Glorify” is a word that means to give splendor, to make radiant. We need to be concerned that our lives are radiant, marked by the ‘glow’ of God, so that we bring glory to God! Can you or I do that on our own? To even think we can is laughable! But, God, the Holy Spirit, will live in us and His brilliance, His light will shine through us.
Let’s make it our goal to live in the promise. Here’s a word from the Word. I pray it both challenges and encourages you to live up to your calling today – not by your strength, but in His wonderful power! “Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18, NIV)
In Him, we are all ‘ordinary people blessed with extraordinary opportunities,’ to participate in the Divine Conspiracy to save the world!
Lord, the light of Your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness shining;
Jesus, Light of the World, shine upon us;
Set us free by the truth You now bring us.
Shine on me, shine on me.
Lord, I come to Your awesome presence.
From the shadows into Your radiance;
By the blood I may enter Your brightness,
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness.
Shine on me, shine on me.
As we gaze on Your kingly brightness,
So our faces display Your likeness;
Ever changing from glory to glory,
Mirror’d here, may our lives tell Your story.
Shine on me, shine on me.
Shine, Jesus, shine.
Fill this land
With the Father’s glory;
Blaze, Spirit, blaze.
Set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow.
Flood the nations
With grace and mercy;
Send forth Your Word,
Lord, and let there be light.
Shine, Jesus, Shine
Kendrick, Graham© 1987 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services)
CCLI License No. 810055