I am a perfectionist at heart. I like to have a controlled environment. I want to be able to see my dreams and endeavors to their proper conclusions. There is a sense of satisfaction in that, a sense of accomplishment. To be in a state of disorder or incompleteness is one of the most stress inducing experiences for me. And yet it seems like these days in ministry, all my work is all rough drafts. Its all starts. Its all important things that need beginnings but that I am not allowed to see through to the end. This is really challenging for me. To live in a life of labor all surrounded by rough drafts. It is unsatisfying. It is anxiety inducing. And it is very formative.
We live in a world that seems to be more divided than ever before. The issues that separate culture today are sharp and complex. We have seen the news. Race. Gender identity. Inequality. Corruption. Poverty. Terrorism. In this harsh setting, many christians feel utterly puzzled when it comes to expressing their faith in an effective and compelling way. Often times we don’t even know where to start.
Scripture calls the people of God to be a powerful missionary force of love, wisdom and healing in a world that is continually falling apart. Something is deeply missing in the lives of many christians today. They seem to be totally blind to the power of the answers that they hold.
The problem is that many of us have been raised in the religious setting but have never really asked ourselves how our christian convictions fit into the broader landscape of ideas that fill this world. We may have accepted our christianity as our faith system but we have never asked how it extents to all of life, or how it interacts with the big questions that every person around us is asking.
How does the gospel pass from simply being our private Sunday morning routine to empowering our thinking, speaking and action in every aspect of culture and society? How do we learn to think as christians in an anti-christian society? How do we deal with the complex line of questions that are fired at the church today?
These are just some of the questions that we will ask at this year’s youth retreat. Join us for a stimulating, challenging and empowering time of rooting ourselves deeper into the true power of the gospel for all of life.
Real christian love changes us. It makes us a completely different type of people. In a world of people seeking satisfaction and security, those who are in Christ are full to the brim. He gives himself to us so that we may be able to give ourselves to others.
There are two distinct changes that love makes in us. First of all, it fills us and creates within us a heart that is burdened to serve others. A heart full of Christ and his truth is a heart that cannot just sit still and stay selfish. Secondly, the burden of love that Christ puts on us drives us to discipline, diligence and perseverance in serving others. Although it impacts our heart powerfully, Christ’s love spreads to the whole person. It causes us to stop and think. It pushes us to evaluate our lives and find ways that we can and must serve most fruitfully in the church and in his kingdom.
If your heart is full of Christ, it will drive you to think deeply about the life of the church, it will cause you to evaluate the purpose of the church and all the different ways that you are present there. It will push you to look into how God is working in those areas and how you can give yourself. Having a deeper perspective on the work of God around you will help show the deeper significance of the “little” ways that you choose to serve. It teaches us to see that in God’s kingdom and in his work, there are no “little” people or “little” moments. Every act of Christ-driven love is an opportunity to make eternal impact on those around us. There is nothing more central to the practical christian walk than growing in love.
We live in a world where personal happiness and well being are at the center of life. The church has unfortunately caught on to this idea as well. Very often, we are given the impression that life with Christ is supposed to answer all our questions and untangle all our knots. We are told that if there are problems and challenges in our lives its a sign that we are not spiritual enough, not working hard enough, not doing good enough.
But when Jesus called his disciples to follow him he did not invite them into a journey of smooth sailing and wide and easy travels through life. He called them to take up their cross, to deny themselves, and to follow him being ready to face anything. That is because the kingdom that he calls us to be a part of is not of this world. The hope that Christ gives spans far beyond our mere physical, psychological or material well being. Continue reading
This past month, C.S. Lewis’ essay, The Weight of Glory has been lingering in my mind. Perhaps this has been potentiated by the fact that we are studying Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with the church, in which there is a great deal of overlap on this intriguing idea of the christian and glory.
Lewis establishes that we all seek glory. We all seek fulfillment. It seems that we are created with a yearning in our souls for a greatness that is out of this world. Various cultures and people groups substitute this with a variety of fillers, but these only prove the point of its reality. It is utterly inhuman to desire to be unglorified – degraded, stomped in the dust, unaccomplished, worthless. Nobody lives that way.