Brothers and sisters in Christ, let me challenge you a little today. Let this challenge motivate you into action to step out in faith and begin to follow Jesus and do what he says without reservations. We live in such a safe, Americanized Christian box. We have all of our ducks in a row. We plan ahead and focus our attention and efforts on making sure our future is secure, through a number of different means. There is practical wisdom involved in these things, but all too often, especially in or culture, this kind of “prudent thinking” leads to thornbushes growing up in our garden.
What do I mean by that? Remember in the parable of the sower that it was the seed that fell on thorny ground that was choked out by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. What happens is that we get so caught up in trying to establish our own empire that we forget about building up the kingdom of God. Our time and effort is given over to temporal things, and we stop bearing fruit towards God.
Today let me challenge you to reverse that cycle in your life. Let me challenge you to obey the command of Jesus to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” We have a tendency to put the emphasis on that last half of that verse, and focus on all the wonderful things we will receive when we seek God first. But I would submit to you that anyone does so is not seeking God first, but is seeking the things that God can give to him. No, the emphasis is on the first half of the verse. We should be so in love with Jesus Christ that all the cares of life fade into the background, and the allure of wealth and material things is lost because our hearts are completely sold out and committed to building treasures in heaven. He is faithful who promised. It is impossible for him to lie. Seek him and his will for your life first, and let him take care of the rest.
I am going to include a quote from Francis Chan from his book, Crazy Love. In it, he says, “I wrote this book because much of our talk doesn’t match our lives. We say things like, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart.’ Then we live and plan like we don’t believe God even exists. We try to set up our lives so everything will be fine even if God doesn’t come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His promises.
Most of us use, ‘I’m waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life’ as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday? Or go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it. The point isn’t that vacations or exercise are wrong, but that we are quick to rationalize our entertainment and priorities yet are slow to commit to serving God.
A friend of mine was speaking recently. Afterward a guy came up and told him, ‘I would go serve God as a missionary overseas, but, honestly, if I went right now it would only be out of obedience.’ My friend’s response was, ‘Yes, and…?’
Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15). Jesus did not say, ‘If you love me you will obey me when you feel called or good about doing so…’ If we love, then we obey. Period. That sort of matter of fact obedience is part of what it means to live a life of faith.
Imagine if you opened up a drawer in your kitchen and found twenty cheese graters but no other utensils. Not very helpful when you’re looking for something to eat your soup with. Just as there are different utensils in the kitchen that serve diverse functions, God has created unique people to accomplish a variety of purposes throughout the world. That is why I cannot say in this book, ‘Everyone is supposed to be a missionary’ or ‘You need to sell your car and start taking public transportation.’ What I can say is that you must learn to listen to and obey God, especially in a society where it’s easy and expected to do what is most comfortable.
Do you see what Francis is getting at? Why do we live our lives as though God were not even there? We all know God’s word and His promises, but when the rubber meets the road, how often do we really step out and obey him or leave things in His hands? Why do we go ahead and make big vacation plans (which isn’t wrong) but when it comes to an opportunity to do something for the kingdom, our response is, “I’ll pray about it.”
So let me challenge you today to think about your life. Are there any areas where you are not completely obeying? Are there areas where you are still planning things out just in case God doesn’t come through? Are there commands of Jesus that you ignore because of comfort or convenience? Seriously, take an honest look in the mirror and evaluate your motives, hopes and aspirations. Are they pleasing in the eyes of God? Will they matter in eternity? You will never regret making necessary changes.
God is at work on the streets. Are you?