I want you to know that I am very thankful for how you have followed God’s calling by founding AIM. I was a First Year Missionary this past fall in Mexico, and it was an experience that has changed my life. I used to view missionaries as these pseudo-perfect people, and foreign mission work had seemed much too difficult an endeavor in my mind. But after spending four months in Mexico, God showed me that He can use me, not because I’m some “super-Christian”, but because I’m willing. I realized that I can give up the cultural standard of what life is supposed to be, and that is so freeing. Being back in the American culture hasn’t been easy. I often feel disgusted with how Christianity is so misrepresented. Americans are a difficult group to reach because so many call themselves Christians but live their lives completely opposite of what Jesus stood for, and those who don’t know Christ are turned off by that. It’s difficult for me personally because I’ve grown up with my Christian parents taking me to church and whatnot, but they rarely discuss their faith with my brother and I, and it has become a huge dilemma for me. The only time we pray together is at meals and church. I don’t know how to be open with them because they’re not open with me, and it’s painful because I see how our relationship is hurting. Sometimes I think my parents have fallen into the “comfortable” phase with their faith. What can I do to impact my family for God? This is a very difficult struggle for me.
This issue of abandon is not necessarily one of physical leaving. It is about your heart. Where is your treasure? Are you motivated by things of the kingdom or are your motives more selfish?
And even if God does call us to leave our comfort zone behind, it is often just for a while, in order to get us into a spiritual classroom where he can readjust our values. At some point, we have to return to the relationships and environment from which we’ve come and introduce the radical life of God there – but we can’t stand strong in a place where we’re counter-culture until we’ve been stripped of the impulses of self-will and self-gratification that come so naturally to us. God knows we may have “bought” fools gold and wants us to trade it in for the pearl of great price.
Trying to do life without the Lord’s power is like driving a one horsepower car that was meant to go at 400 horsepower. It’s sad and funny at the same time – it’s not what we were designed for. To help us live as he designed us to live, God can lower the attractiveness of our current comfortable lifestyle in a number of ways. One way is to allow the consequences of our own sin to come home to roost so that our lifestyle doesn’t seem so comfortable anymore. Thus we get caught in the web of an addiction, or a lie we’ve told destroys a relationship, or a compromise we’ve made haunts us.
Or, God can allow the shallowness of our lives take its toll. The TV programs that bring us a respite from the day also isolate us. The debt that bought a large house brings increasing worry. The accumulation of material things complicates our lives as they break down and need repair. The job that finances our lifestyle begins to dominate our schedule.
And the net result is that, upon reflection, the rewards just don’t seem so rewarding anymore. We see that success does not equal significance. Monetary gain or career achievement fail to bring hope to our lives.
In contrast, the risk of trading it all in for the life of abandon that Jesus advocated doesn’t seem to be so intolerably high.
To make this practical, you might want to warm up by watching a movie on the theme. Here are some movies that give riffs on the theme of abandoning the world’s script:
Falling Down, or
Brother Sun, Sister Moon. To take it the next level, do an inventory of those things that would be hard for you to leave and ask the Lord if any of them are idols or stand between you and him. So many of us have a fairly substantial list and need to be taken out of our comfortable environment for an extended time to get what a chiropractor might equate to “an adjustment.”
thanks for the encouragement, Stacy. we are swimming upstream against a very strong cultural current and we need to encourage one another in the process.
As an example – I was just misquoted in the national press an hour ago. that’s the kind of treatment we can expect from the world. they are not going to be respectful of our strange perspectives.
we need to encourage one another to “keep the faith,” not as in “continuing to call ourselves Christians,” but as in, not failing to trust in our Lord when it seems painful to do so.
The movie citations are interesting, I’ve always been intrigued by a guy named Konrad Adenauer. A member of the (Catholic) centre party of Germany who went to a Benedictine Abbey in 1933 because he couldn’t stand to see what the Nazi’s were doing. He was imprisoned multiple times incuding during the “Night of the Long Knives”. In 1946 at the age of 69 he founded the Christian Democratic Union integrating both the Protestants and Catholics, quoting from Wikipedia
“…he sought with varying success to impose his particular ideology on the party. His was an ideology at odds with many in the CDU who wished to unite socialism and Christianity; Adenauer instead favored stressing more the dignity of the individual, and he lumped together both socialism and Nazism as “materialist” world views that violated the dignity of the individual.”
He became the first chancellor of Germany in 1949. 13 years in the desert (1933-1946) in a combination of persecution, contemplation and inprisonment he returned as Seth says “to the relationships and environment from which he came”.
General Eisenhower is rumored to have been the person who recruited him out of the abbey as the only man in German with the moral apptitude to redeem his people.
GOD is doing all thes things to me now.On the 21st of MaRCH 2010/MY BIRTHDAY. I was given this book,the THE UTMOST OF THE HIGHEST,BY OSWALD CHAMBERS.
EVER SINCE I HAVE BEEN READING IT FORM THAT DAY UNTILL NOW SUNDAY 11TH OF JULY 2010. MY LIFE HAS CHANGED.IAM GOING TO SCHOOL ON LINE PERSUING MY DEGREE IN BUSINEES AND HOSPITALITY,
I HAVE CONFESSED MY SINS LONG TIME A GO,ACCEPTED GOD IN MY LIFE YEARS AGO.I LOVE GOD,DEARLY.
EACH DAY OF THE UTMOST OF THE HIGHEST IS A DUPLICATE COPY OF WHAT HAPPEN IN MY DAY.IHAVE ACCEPTED THE DIFFERENT EVENTS,IAM TRYING MY BEST TO DO WHATEVER GOD WANTS,NOT MY WILL.IAM NOT A PERFECT MAN IN ANY SENSE OF THE WORD.BUT IWIL BE LOYAL TO GOD,I WILL NOT GIVE UP I WLL ENDURE WHATS GOING IN MY LIFE NOW.NOT TRYING TO FIGURE ANYTHING OUT I JUST WANT FREEDOM,TO CARRY OUT HIS WIL.
I AM A RECOVERING ALCOHOLIC,AND IT WAS HIS GRACE NOT MINE THAT THE OBSESSION HAS GONE.THATS A LITTLE OF MY STORY.STATE TUNED.GOD IS LOVE.CLYDE!!
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