Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Call on Line 1

Do you know what your "call" is in life? I hear people talk about their calling in life and I've even said a few times, 'I feel called to work with youth' or 'into ministry', but I'm wondering if people use that as a cop out, people who say they follow Jesus but don't feel "called" to be ambassadors of his good news. I think we get our profession and God's real call on our life confused sometimes. As I was folding bulletins two Saturdays ago at 11:00pm for Sunday's service I was somewhat angrily saying to myself, "I am a youth pastor, why am I folding these bulletins that the youth are not even going to look at, this is not my job." How's that for self-righteousness. Apparently, I think I'm too important to fold bulletins. But God often speaks to me when I'm being a jackass (the donkey of course). He asked me how many times I'd shared the Gospel recently with people who'd never heard it. Hmm. Not many. Just so we're clear, I don't think God is into punishing us for the sake of punishing us - and even if he is, I guess folding bulletins is pretty light for not listening to him - but I do think he's into teaching us and will use whatever he has to, to teach us to listen. Fortunately this time I just needed a little nudge and not a kick in the donkey. He said "If you're not going to do what I called you to then folding paper is what you can do until you do. Later that week he reminded me again what my calling was while I was talking with another youth pastor, He said "I just want to be in love with Jesus and tell kids about Him." Then the next day, a huge bomb came out while talking with a teen who is struggling with some personal life stuff and wanting so badly to be close to God. Open door! got to share the whole deal, everything I know about Jesus, everything he's done to change my life. Lots of the things I still struggle with that Jesus is working out in me. It was heavy stuff this teen was dealing with, serious choices to make. Hopefully my advice was good, but what's important is another person heard the Gospel. For once I saw the opportunity and answered the call that he put in front of me for that moment.

Our calling is to share the Gospel. If Jesus has called us by name and we've responded then everything from that point on is about him, so our calling has to be to share the Gospel. Now that doesn't mean we all become preachers or teachers, it just means that we use whatever circumstance or position God has put us in to bring attention to Him. We all have the same calling, we're all created for the same purpose; to be in relationship and bring attention to our creator. If our Christian life consists of showing up on Sunday, listening to a professional preacher tell us a story, putting our cash in the plate then going about our business for the next week, we've missed the call. Everything I read in scripture points to something totally different than that. If your profession gives you opportunity to share the Gospel do it. If your proffession doesn't give you opportunity to share the Gospel, do it anyway, people hearing about Jesus is more important than your pension or your paycheck. Your calling is not your profession, it's just a vehicle to put you in a place so you can speak about Jesus. I love Eric Liddell's quote in "Chariots of Fire" where he says "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." He knew he was made to share the Gospel but he didn't just stick with his "missionary" calling to do it. He used what the Lord had given him as a platform to share that his whole life, even when people thought he was crazy. I think he felt the Lord's pleasure when he ran because the Lord saw his heart and knew he was going to use it to talk about Jesus. Liddell's calling wasn't to be a runner or a missionary. It was to point people to Jesus.

It's so easy for the Gospel to be pushed out of the centre of our call. We can get focused on so many things, even good things, even God things, but forget the central message, the central purpose of Jesus is the Gospel. Prayer meetings, services, worship gathering, Seminary, fasting, fundraisers... whatever else; if the Gospel is not central God has nothing to do with it. The only way to the Father is through Jesus, he doesn't even get the message unless it comes through Jesus.

In The Barbarian Way, Erwin McManus says this, "Just do whatever Jesus calls you to do the moment it is clear to you. Do not procrastinate; do not hesitate; do not deviate from whatever course of action He calls you to. But I want to warn you, the closer you walk with Christ, the greater the faith required. The more you trust Him, the more you'll risk on His behalf. The more you love Him, the more you will love others. If you genuinely embrace His Sacrifice, you will joyfully embrace a sacrificial life. Your expectations of Jesus will change as your intimacy with Him deepens" (53-54); Jesus wants all of us all the time. He wants to use every situation he lets us walk into for Him. The process of letting our life be surrendered to Him is sometimes slow and painful, but he's not interested in us hanging on to certain bits and piece. Although He's patient and graceful about it, total surrender is what he's looking for and either Jesus wins or you lose.

I've had to realize that my job as a youth pastor is not my call it just gives me a platform to share the Gospel. I asked myself this week if God takes this platform away, is my heart still to share the Gospel with people, especially young people. If he takes this very convenient place to share the Gospel away and sends me back to mowing lawns or working with at-risk youth instead of at-church youth, will I still tell people about him? 2 Cor 5:17-20 makes it pretty clear that I don't have a chose in the matter if I really want to follow Jesus. It says, "This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Most of the people I know (myself included) are struggling with the idea of how we follow Jesus, how we do church, how we do community, how we do life. Maybe we all need a re-revelation of what our purpose is in following Jesus. The first thing Jesus did was start telling the Good News and the last thing Jesus did was tell his disciples to tell the Good News, the living came out of telling the Good News. For Jesus disciples, the dying to self came from being ambassadors of Jesus and the good news about him. If I'm not using the places Jesus has set up for me to share the Good News, I've missed the Call.
SO, just in case you've stumbled onto this blog and have no idea what the good news is, here you go:

Jesus 1 Corinthians 15: 1-4 is the short version; "... I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve."
Mark Driscoll gives a more complete rundown here:
Be Blessed.

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