The Christian community is made up of many resource rich, capable and competent people. Unfortunately God wants people who are simply desperate for Him. ♦
There is a popular trend in the Christian church to “get involved” and “serve in the community.” This is certainly all well and good provided that there is purpose behind all the motions besides “getting involved” and “serving in the community.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But if it’s just that then Christianity is as good as joining a community club that does good deeds and makes everyone feel good, particularly ourselves.
There’s got to be more to it. I believe it’s tied to a vision. What are we here for? What’s the big picture goal here? What are we supposed to be doing? And it’s got to be bigger than our own dreams or ideals to “make the world a better place.” Because ideals like that are good and helpful and make us all nod our heads in agreement, but ultimately, ideals are but well-intentioned human efforts at our own goals and aspirations. They serve us. Yes, they serve our fellow man as well. But ultimately, if we’re honest, by our active involvement and serving we serve ourselves and our need for belonging, being helpful, receiving recognition, and being identified with good and noble causes.
Yes, there has to be more to it. Otherwise what is the real difference between a good and active Christian and a good and active non-Christian?
Is there really no distinction?
A Lesson From the First Church
After Jesus ascended and the initial disciples were left alone, they met in a small room. Their actions show us a model of the Church in action:
When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:13-14)
The early Christians prayed. There were so awestruck by their witnessing the resurrection of Jesus and his walking in their midst for 40 days afterward, that they didn’t know what to do but wait for further instructions.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
In fact, shortly thereafter on the day of Pentecost:
And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting…and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues….and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need….And fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles….And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:2, 4, 43, 45, 47)
Culture of Desperation
The early Christians first connected with God deeply in prayer and then supported each other and the community in love as a natural outflow. They weren’t just about social activity and community outreach and good physical deeds. There was a culture of desperation among them, wondering just what is God going to do.
They had no agenda. They were lost and desperate. They simply manifested God’s holy presence within them like the air they breathe and the daily bread they ate.
This is the air I breathe; this is the air I breathe
Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread; this is my daily bread
Your very word spoken to me
And I – I’m desperate for you
And I – I’m lost without you. (Breathe, 2013, by Michael W. Smith)
Many of us are not desperate for God. We’re active for him, but not lost without him.
Culture of Competence
Many Christians today, particularly in the affluent western Church community, reflect not a culture of desperation for God, but rather a culture of competence. We’re so equipped and able, loaded with resources and talents intellectually and physically, that we offer ourselves as willing contractors for the Kingdom. We’ll sign up for church or para-church programs and regional initiatives, community work days, or local mission trips, and generously offer up our proverbial “time, talent, and treasure” while subconsciously patting ourselves on the back and feeling pretty useful and good about it all.
So What Does God Want?
God wants our heart, mind, and soul. It’s not about our deeds or ideals. We’re right when our vision aligns with God’s vision. He becomes everything we are, even the air we breathe. He doesn’t want our money or our gifts. He want’s all of us, our total commitment. To be desperate and in utter dependent need and surrender to Him, even in the midst of our affluence and plenty. Remember Ananias and his wife Sapphira? See their disturbing story in Acts 5:1-11. It’s not the giving; it’s the heart full and desperate in relinquishing all of ourselves for God’s purpose. We’re not to give all of our money – we’re just to give all of our hearts, at the ready for His service.
Of course, along the way the fully committed Christian may work in the church program, community initiative, or even participate in a local mission trip. But they are Spirit-led in all their actions, not Man-directed. They pray fervently for guidance and are directed accordingly, not by the whims and callings of a well-intentioned social and even religious culture.
From where do you get your Christian marching orders?
“Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint. But happy is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18