For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Friday, January 19, 2018

What Are You Doing that Requires Faith?

I used to teach a group of sixth-grade boys every year. They were rowdy and sports-minded like most 12-13-year-old boys tend to be. In order to capture their attention, we talked about sports. We talked about the sports halls of fame that were scattered around the country that enshrined the great sports figures of the past. The Hockey Hall of Fame was just an hour away from where we were living and it was a rare boy who had never been there. It was a fantastic way to help them connect with one of the most inspiring chapters of the Bible: Hebrews 11. In that chapter, the writer recounts the exploits of the heroes of the faith. I called the chapter "God's Hall of Fame." We met every week to talk about the exploits of people like Abraham, Moses, and Samson. The boys loved it!

After class one day, I was walking back to my office from the church kitchen carrying a cup of coffee. Suddenly, the question popped into my mind, "What am I doing that requires any faith at all?" I talked to the boys each week about being "men of faith", but life had settled into a comfortable an predictable rhythm. There was little risk in what I was doing. Life had become a pleasant routine.

The Christian life is not routine. Oh, there are seasons where things can be mundane, but if we read either the Old or New Testaments we discover that God frequently called people to take risks. Consider Noah building an ark or Daniel daring to pray. It doesn't get less risky in the New Testament. Consider Peter getting out of the boat or Ananias going to visit Saul/Paul. The call to follow Christ is a call into the unknown and unexpected. The security lies in Jesus, but he will lead us into situations that will challenge us to trust him.

Ponder the fact that each of us is to be connected to the task of making of disciples of all people. This is not the task of specialists like missionaries and pastor, but of ordinary Christians. Sure, the biblical history of the church is called "The Acts of the Apostles", but if you read its pages you will find that there were many non-apostles that were doing "acts" just as faith-filled as the apostles. The first great wave of evangelism outside of Jerusalem was not done by the apostles, but by "regular" Christians sharing their faith as persecution nipped at their heels (Acts 8:1-4).

As I sat down in my office that morning, I contemplated the fact that  Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has prepared things for us to do. I realized that if I was to walk by faith, it meant doing the things that God had planned for me to do. It wasn't about thrill-seeking. It was about obeying God.

Walking by faith cuts in two directions. First, there were many things that would be mundane, but could be transformed by understanding that God was using what I was doing even in the ordinary things of life. Jesus asked his disciples to pass out bread and they became part of a miracle. Walking by faith means seeing that things like teaching my class of sixth-graders could be used to call people to the mission field. Or that a job on the factory floor could strategically place a believer into the lives of co-workers. Or changing another diaper or washing another plate could be used by God in ways beyond understanding. So seeing our daily tasks as part of God's plan energizes and directs our work.

Second, there will be times when God will call us to step out of the routine in acts of radical obedience.   This is to be expected and it will be uncomfortable. It happened regularly to the first disciples and we can read these accounts in the gospels and Acts. God has not changed, nor has the pattern of walking with him. There are moments when Jesus will call you to get out of the boat and walk on water. It may be to share the gospel with a co-worker, start a bible study, or pray for the sick. It may be to mow the neighbor's grass or stop to change a flat tire. We don't get to choose the task or the moment. We listen to the voice of the Lord and obey.

 If this never happens to you, something is wrong. You are missing something vital in your Christian life. My advice to you is that you need to begin telling God that you are willing to do whatever he wants you to do. Ask him to show you the adventure of keeping in step with the Spirit. But let me warn you: he will take you up on that prayer, and it will lead to places you would not normally go. It will be risky and uncomfortable. That's why faith is required. You have to trust him.

I am not going to share, in this post, where God led me because my story isn't your story. The works he is calling me to do are not the same as yours. Instead, let me encourage you to ask him to increase your faith and use you to build his kingdom. Then listen to him and then obey. You may be surprised what he tells you to do. It may be a big thing like going on a missions trip. It is easy to see how that might be risky. But beware that sometimes the adventure will lead in an entirely different direction. It may lead you to the prayer closet to intercede for those that go rather than taking the trip yourself. It may lead you to talk to your Muslim neighbor about Jesus. It may lead you to pray for your sick co-worker. Or teach sixth-grade boys. You never know where the Lord will lead, but joining him in what he is doing will always lead to adventure.

So let me ask you, "What are you doing that requires faith? Are you willing to step out in obedience to God?"

No comments:

Post a Comment