Thanks in advance for listening to my heart and random thoughts.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my role in ministry here in Prague. And even more, about who I am in Christ. In order to share God’s love and grace and help others to experience life with Christ, I need to define what that is in my own life. In our Sunday night gathering this weekend, we discussed the stories of John the Baptist, Jesus’ temptations and Jesus calling the first disciples. We didn’t get a chance to talk much about the disciples but I went back last night and reread that passage in Matthew.
I heard someone say recently that he didn’t want people to call him a Christian, but a Christ follower. What’s the difference? What makes the word or label Christian negative at times? I am currently studying the early church, reading through the book of Acts and trying to gain some new understanding on what made these people truly “set apart” from the rest of the world. The first thought that comes to mind, is that the word Israel literally means “to struggle with God”.
Many people believe at one time or another, that because you are a Christian you won’t have as many temptations or problems. I’ve come to realize that it’s almost the opposite. We as believers, struggle more and more to rely on God, trust in Him (His timing, plan, and wisdom) and release control over our lives. I am glad to hear that as God’s chosen people, we struggle, wrestle and fight through our journey with Him. He not only is okay with our struggle, and accepts it, but He expects and loves it. Think about an intimate relationship you are in, think about fighting with that person. At the end of the day, does it really matter if you were right in your argument? Is it worth continuing to struggle with them if you know their way is better? I (almost daily) struggle to surrender everything to Christ, to allow Him, in His power to take over all that I worry and think about. But, as He changes and grows me, I learn that when I give up control, not only do I feel free, but I grow closer to Him. Our relationship reaches a new place, and I feel closer to Him. What an amazing experience that is!
Something else I like about early followers is that they were authentic. The prophets were unabashedly themselves. Most of them were just plain weird. They set themselves apart and interrupted the status quo. Moses stuttered when he spoke and turned a staff into a snake. John the Baptist ate locusts and made clothes out of camel’s skin. They walked around naked, ate scrolls, and lay on the ground outside of city gates. Ezekiel pulled off a protest in the nude and staged a prophetic stunt that involved cooking with poop. As much it might embarrass us to read of the things that they did, are we really any different?
“I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one of the nations.” Numbers 23:9
It’s important to remember that neither the prophets nor Jesus himself cared what society thought. I’ve heard it said that Jesus messed up his own reputation. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords worked among, ate around tables with and healed the most broken and low people of society. Who are we to try and say that that work is below us?
Making disciples of the nations is not an easy or always enjoyable task since the nations are constantly trying to make disciples out of us.
In my journey with God I am constantly reminded that I am not fully equipped for this job, or this life. But who is? The humor in God’s power is a stuttering Moses being the voice of God, a barren old woman becoming the mother of a nation, a shepherd boy becoming king, and a homeless baby leading them all home.
Who am I in Christ? What is the purpose of this journey, this struggle? I’m still figuring that out and probably always will be. Until next time….