No matter how much we say we want change in our lives, each of us, at one point or another, would rather stay confined to the comfort zones of our personal existence. We pine after the latest home improvement trends, looking around our “closed concept” homes lamenting that no Chip or Joanna has come in to save the day. We vicariously live the lavish lifestyles of the rich and famous as we scroll through Instagram feeds or binge on Netflix. We are content watching others live the experiences we indicate we really want for ourselves.
The modern American Christian is no different. We look to Biblical examples of people who heeded the call of Jesus and we admire them. We fangirl after David or Peter or Paul, but we never really do anything significant. We tell ourselves that “one day” we, too, will get off our behinds and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28: 19, NIV). “But today,” we intimate, “just isn’t a good day.” We look to our preachers or leaders to give us something to do, and when they fail to do so, or when they give us assignments that are inconvenient, we feel justified in our lack of response. We stand on the sidelines of discipleship, wearing the uniform but pleading with the coach (e.g., the Holy Spirit) to “please send someone else in instead because I think I sprained my ankle when I came in from the parking lot.”
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3: 15-16, KJV)
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my own death, not in a pseudo-suicidal or morbid way, but generally just the end of my life. Knowing that it could come at any moment, I am concerned that I’ve been living a lukewarm existence in Christ. In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan attributes a question to a matriarch in his family that has resonated with me continuously over the last month or so: “Is this what I want to be doing when Jesus returns?” Do I really want to be making excuses from the sidelines of discipleship when I am called to give an account of my life? Will Jesus know me? Or will I be spit out of the mouth of the Most High because I was detestable to Him?
These questions, I believe, have come as a result of praying David’s prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139: 23-24). The timidity of praying this for fear of a truth I was unwilling to stare into is transforming into more boldness even as the revelation of who I am in Christ is downright ugly. Most of us, I think, believe we are “good Christians” until God reveals us to ourselves. We assume we are simpatico with Christ until the Holy Spirit snatches off the cloak we have been hiding under, showing us the times we refused to “deny [ourselves], and take up [our] cross daily, and follow [Him]” (Luke 9: 23, KJV). Something happens, though, when we are no longer merely giving lip service to change. When we truly are moved by the Word of God and are “pricked in [our] heart,” asking earnestly “what shall we do?” the call to “Repent…every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” no longer feels like a “nice to have one day” but a necessity for life right now and hereafter (Acts 2: 37-38, KJV).
Dr. Oscar Moses states in his book Before You Send Them Out, “There should be something about God’s majesty in the life of believers that motivates them to become available to do something for God.” The key here is availability. Are we more willing to dream about what we should be doing as a demonstration of our love for Christ than we are actually availing ourselves to Christ in service of kingdom building?
Recently one morning, I woke up already in prayer. You know what I mean, right? It was one of those moments when you find yourself praying even before you are conscious of the fact that you are praying. The Spirit whispered to my heart as I was thanking Him for another breath that God woke me up today to do something for Christ. That revelation startled me, Friend, because we are so quick to “thank God for another day, giving me the activity of my limbs, or breathing Your breath into my body,” but it never really occurred to me that those blessings have absolutely NOTHING to do with me! The Holy Spirit said to me, “We woke you up for a reason!” I sat for a moment in shock thinking about all the people who had died in the last 24 hours, people who no longer had an earthly mission for Christ, and I was immediately humbled and ashamed as I looked back over the last day and wondered if I had even done what God woke me up to do that previous day.
I’m starting to realize that each day should be a day where I minister to someone about the wondrous glory of Christ. Each day should be one where I am quick to refuse myself a comfort in favor to helping someone in need. Every day I should look toward heaven and ask God what is His standard of living for my life, delighting in any opportunity to deny me in favor of Him. In so doing, knocking down a wall in my house or finding the latest outfit to stunt on all my perceived haters just seem like foolish wastes of time. God didn’t wake me up for that! And, Friend, He didn’t wake you up for that either!
So I ask, are we truly changing our lives for Christ, or are we content merely talking about it?