Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring Break: No Turning Back

If you've been in church three times, you've probably heard The Great Commission at least twice. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matt 28:19-20). 

Many Christians argue from these words of Jesus that telling others about God is a believer’s duty. But do we miss the mindset that Jesus wanted us to have if we simply think of his teachings as rules and regulations on our lives?Learning from Christ’s example, His ultimate goal was to get His followers to grasp the concept life is not worth living unless your only purpose is to glorify God with all that you are and all that you do. 

Jesus didn’t keep numbers of those he baptized or how many followed Him in each city. He didn't try to copy exactly what any of the Old Testament prophets had done. He didn't try to mold His message to what He thought people would listen to. He only concerned Himself with drawing near to His Father and following His will. 

Jesus knew that some would harden their hearts and would not repent. He knew that some things he said would be highly offensive, even to religious leaders. But he wasn't concerned with how others perceived Him, because He knew that He was living for a greater purpose. His life and death glorified God, and that was all that mattered. 

I've had moments with that attitude - total and complete freedom, knowing that I was exactly where God wanted me, and confident in my obedience to my God. Just like there's nothing worse than those moments where you desperately search for God's hand, there is nothing more incredible than resting safely in His arms. Most of my "spiritual highs" have taken place when and where you would expect them - retreats, conferences, miraculous moments.

Spring Break is right around the corner - but it's so different now than what my Spring Break looked like in high school and college. As I've gotten older with a "real" job and responsibilities, Spring Break seems like more like a memory of something I used to have. Sure, I get a break from class, but that doesn't change test/paper due dates. I still have plenty of things to keep me busy!

Spring Break used to mean one thing: mission trip. I remember looking forward to a break from my regular schedule to get away with God. I wanted a time for personal renewal. Sadly, I thought of this time as my spiritual recharge to get me through until camp during the summer. My normal schedule kept me too busy. I couldn't witness to more than a handful of people most semesters. I had to get my Great Commission fix in one week.

But while my motives may have been good, I was completely wrong. I went on mission trips for myself. But missions isn't about me. Missions exists because there are places where the name of God is not praised, and He longs for all of creation to worship Him. 

And this one might surprise you - but missions is ultimately not even about those who are lost - but it is about the One who saves the lost. I'm not trying to belittle the importance of saving a lost person from sin, but I'm just trying to magnify the importance of worshipping God through our existence. 

Look at the life of Jesus. Everything He did was not for His own gain, but for His Father’s sake. Jesus gave everything, even His own life, to bring God glory, even though the price was high. 

For me, this is a new concept, but following Christ means adopting a new mindset for life. The apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:1-2). 

Likewise, Ezekiel 36:26-27 teaches that God will give us a new heart to replace our former ways. It says, "And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."

We are born selfish, so everything about living for God goes against our natural tendencies. We have nothing to gain from leading others to Christ, as salvation is a free gift from God. But God has everything to gain, since there will be more of His creation that will worship Him. 

Here is where it gets tougher: Missions cannot stop with simply telling someone about Jesus. Missions must be a continual lifetime process of living your life as worship and helping others to do the same. There are people who sit in church pews all across America who do not glorify God with their lives. If you simply share Christ’s story with someone, but never help them grow in their relationship with the Lord, they may or may not ever truly worship Him. 

True worship is not a one-time act, and missions is not a one-week trip. Worship and missions are both lifestyle and mindset changes. While God changes our heart, the new believer must surrender to Him to develop the mindset of Christ. As Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

So my challenge for myself this Spring Break is to embark on a true mission trip - no longer living for myself, but letting Christ live in me, seeking to worship Him with every part of my life, and taking as many others with me as possible

And I don't even have to pack. :)

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Well written Michelle!!