Jesus gave us work to do, a calling for every Christian. “Go, change the world. Turn sinners into saints.” To the extent that we are passionate about that calling, it can consume us. How do we do this in a world that is too frequently so taken up with immediate needs and/or pleasures that the things of God seem far away, even irrelevant to life? How can we “make disciples” as He commanded when even our very Self is so often resistant to His will? Paul reflects on God’s commission to holy work and asks, “Who is equal to such a task?”
Let me make a confession. Sometimes I get so wrapped up with the work, I lose sight of the miracle of the Christian life. I become anxious, driven, tired, and discouraged. Something is seriously wrong with that picture, isn’t it? We, who are called to ‘life to the full’ in Christ Jesus, who claim to be serving the Lord of Love, who are promised peace in the middle the storm, can hardly be effective in invited others to follow Jesus if we are in a place where the Spirit’s life invisible.
- If we are loveless, how can we invite others to know His love?
- If we are without peace, how will others find reconciliation with God?
- If our joy is lost to pressure and performance, how can we tell others about the “joy of the Lord?”
Jesus invites us to stop, to listen, and to learn of the Way. He told His disciples He was going to be leaving them. They were ready to panic. In that moment, He revealed the open secret of the fruitful Christian’s life. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:26-27, NIV)
He followed up that promise by directing those disciples not to run off to try to do the work of the Kingdom of God until they had an encounter with the Spirit. ”Wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” (Acts 1:4) And wait, they did! The Spirit came on them and they were ready to serve. Were they perfect? No, they were not. The book of Acts records some amazing victories and a few fumbles, some unity and some disagreements. Over all, there was miraculous progress as, led by the Spirit, the “Jesus people” carried their message and hope from Jerusalem to the entire Roman world within 3 decades.
Christian, His invitation to ‘wait,’ still stands. That does not mean we lie down and sleep! It does not mean we grow apathetic about the pressing concerns of God’s work. It surely does not mean we paper over our worries with a lot of ‘holy talk.’ Those disciples waited, presently themselves to God in prayer, anticipating His Presence. They were actively looking and listening.
On this Tuesday, I want to put two challenges to you for your prayers and thoughts.
First, are you spending yourself on matters that actually matter? Are the concerns of your life shaped around eternal realities, becoming like Jesus, inviting others to know Him?
Second, are you settled on His promise, taking time each day to actively listen to the Counselor’s wisdom, so that you will work effectively for Jesus?
The word from the Word assures us that when the Spirit is leading, when we are ‘waiting’ so that He can be heard, a quality of life emerges in us and around us that puts Jesus on display; Him, not me, not you!
Stop, listen, learn … and then “you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! (Ephesians 3:18-21, The Message)
IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE ASK! Let’s live the promise.
(pray along with this song)
Over all the earth You reign on high
Every mountain stream every sunset sky
But my one request Lord my only aim
Is that You’d reign in me again
Lord reign in me reign in Your pow’r
Over all my dreams in my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won’t You reign in me again
Over every thought over every word
May my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
‘Cause You mean more to me
Than any earthly thing
So won’t You reign in me again
Brenton Brown © 1998 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire) (Vineyard Music UK)
CCLI License # 810055