I have read that when WW II soldiers were interviewed years after the war, a common theme emerged that these soldiers were able to endure the brutality and hardship of war and continue to press on and fight because they felt they were involved in a cause much bigger than themselves. They viewed the aggression of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan as a real threat to freedom.
We, too, are involved in a great cause much bigger than ourselves. It’s an epic war – not for the freedom of nations, but for the souls of men. And we need to grasp the fact, the brutal reality, that lives are at stake; this isn’t some slogan or catchy emotionalism — no lives are literally at stake
And we are called to participate; to engage; to take up arms against the enemy. Until we get that, we will continue to miss a key element of what it means to glorify God with our lives.
But we cannot just magically have that sort of perspective. We need a God-sized vision, a redemptive revelation of God, in our lives and how that can impact our children, our immediate sphere of influence, and the world at large.
We need to view our lives as potentially having an impact long after we’ve left the earth. That’s a God-sized vision. And we need to remember the “what” and “why” behind it all (1 Thess 2:7-8 ; 2 Tim 2:2). Why do we need a vision and what does it look like?
2 Timothy 2:2
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Look at the legacy. There are 4 spiritual generations described. Paul, Timothy, faithful men, others.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
Paul was keen to impart the Gospel and his life. We are to do the same.
The fact is, God calls every believer to action — whether it’s in a foxhole, forward artillery positions, as a medic, in supply lines, corps of engineers, infirmary in the rear hospital, mess hall, or latrine duty. Each role is critical. And it all works together for His purposes.
Now you might be thinking to yourself. Ok, so this all sounds great but you can’t imagine my situation. I’m doing good just to make it through the day. Like the song, Cats in the Cradle says, we have letters to write and bills to pay. But we need to be careful; or just like the father in the song, we’ll miss the main things because of the tyranny of the urgent.
Or like the man told Jesus, let me bury my father first, then I’ll do what you ask. Which is saying let me wait until he has passes away, then I’ll follow. In other words, I hear you but I’m just not there yet. I know what you’re saying, Jesus. I know it’s got to be important, but truth be told, I just can’t muster that right now. I can’t worry about my neighbor because my own house is in chaos. Let me get that squared away and then I’ll be able to focus on it.
But listen. We all have life coming at us at break-neck speed. We’re all busy. We’re all tired. And every one of us has a life riddled with the consequences of bad decisions. So you see that’s not the issue. God is in the business of using messed up people to minister to messed up people.
The reality is that he calls us to participation. The question is how do we get a vision for what God’s doing? And then how do we move from vision to action?
In other words, how do I come to view those around me with the same love and concern as I would my own children? How do I get to the point where I’m willing to impart some good news, which is itself a big step – overcoming all the barriers to that (fear, time, lack of confidence etc), but to impart my own life as well? That’s huge. Let that sink in a minute. That’s a game changer.
And how do I get to where Paul told Timothy to entrust what he heard to faithful men? Am I even a faithful man? Have I even heard it? Do I know what “those things” are?
Well before we all get discouraged or overwhelmed and jump ship before we leave the dock, let me say this. First, I’m a believer in acquiring skills and equipping ourselves with the tools needed for ministry, but we are not going to just go do what we’re talking about here.
We can’t just flip a switch and be passionate about getting in the game. Why? Because we are by nature each one selfish. Because just like our abandoned New Year’s resolutions we cannot simply will ourselves toward life change. So I understand where you might be. I’m right there with you.
Second, God has our back. He’s got you and He won’t let you down. So trust him. And learn what he says about these things. To continue our military illustrations, we have the field manual and it’s called The Bible.
The truth is that the Bible in its entirety is devoted to giving us a vision of God and what He’s up to and helping us to get involved. But it can be daunting if we don’t come at it with some framework or direction.
So I want to lay a groundwork for some very practical steps we can take from scripture. There are two things we need to internalize before we get rolling.
- Realize that we cannot change ourselves. God does it. And He does it from the inside out. Romans 12:2. Our World View determines what we Value, and those values determine our Behavior. Not the other way around. So we need to focus on change from the inside-out.
- Resolve to do it (Daniel 1) – Daniel was taken captive to Babylon and placed in the king’s court for training along with other young men to be conformed to the ways of Babylon. But verse 7 says that “Daniel resolved not to defile himself.” And for 66 years Daniel served. Kings came and went, but Daniel was faithful. He resolved.
There’s God’s part and our part. I love that verse that says we were sealed with this promise. The Lord knows those who are his and let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness.
If you begin to seek God and ask him to shape your view and give you a perspective that is outward focused, I believe that he will. Moreover, I believe that he will also give you opportunities to share not only the Gospel message but your very life as well. And you will witness dead men come to life.