Oswald Chambers writes:
Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?
Serving Jesus. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about topics surrounding this aspect of Christian living. Looking back at my own journey, there are of course ebbs and flows where I was engaged to greater or lesser degrees in what most would describe as Christian service. More often than not, they were driven, if not dictated, by life circumstances.
But it does cause me to ask myself certain questions. For example, what are our spiritual pursuits? And how do we work out these sorts of things in our walk?
Devotion to Christ inevitably drives us to service. The more we follow and fall in love with him, the more we will want others to experience that life.
Still, I wonder at times how much of what we are pressed into accepting as the way and measure of spiritual service to which we should be committed as believers is more often than not the way and measure of man.
Is there a distinction between “leading a quiet life” and “as you go make disciples”? Or is it more along the lines of all that we do being an act of worship in the sense that it displays God’s glory and grace? I think we should pursue spiritual disciplines, but I see all too often those becoming our plumb lines or object vs God being the object.
Have we made the walk needlessly more complicated that it ought to be? I sometimes ponder a stereotypical modern evangelical approach where one is engaged in evangelism and discipleship as an avocation to be “actioned” as the chief activity of life outside work. And while I not only believe in but was mentored as a young Christian in the 90’s that we should live lives of relational evangelism and discipleship, I’m only now gaining a better understanding of seasons — having obviously experienced a few more of them.
I often think about this idea of walking and abiding and how the modern evangelical mind treats the admonitions of scripture regarding evangelism and discipleship. Of course it eventually leads me to john 15 and the message of abiding. Here is the strong’s definition for abide: To remain.
- In reference to a place – to not depart; to continue to be present
- In reference to time – to continue to be
- In reference to state or condition – to remain as one; to not become another
So if I abide (in place, time and condition), then it would in my view logically follow that every course of action in which I engage, whether it’s kayaking with my family, writing a song, studying scripture alone, explaining a biblical truth to my kids, discussing some facet of Christian living with a fellow sojourner, sharing a Gospel word with a friend or stranger, serving the poor … everything I am doing will bring Glory to God.
Jesus says just before that verse that if we don’t bear fruit we are either cut down or pruned. He tells us to abide because apart from him we can’t do anything. He tells us that if we do abide we will bear fruit. Then he tells us what it means to abide (keep his commandments). He goes on to explain what that means (to love one another). Elsewhere he says it’s two things. Love God with all our being; love neighbor as self.
It seems so incredibly and impossibly easy that I fear we miss this more than not. Or, we decide well, I’ll just love God intellectually, or emotionally, or in practical service, or whatever the easiest bent for us is to muster devotion. In other words, I can love God with my heart and soul, but not my mind. Or I can show God’s love by working hard in service to Him but I’m not going to do x. When all along, the answer is to just abide like a flower abides on the vine, not straining or stressing about how they are to accomplish it.
Once that state is realized, it does become easy because we aren’t worried about whether the time we just spent cutting the yard or lunch with friends or going to the movie was time well spent because in all those activities we are representing a life bearing fruit and we are abiding and we are glorifying. And to a degree we are evangelizing and making disciples because all that we are and do are one with God’s purposes. So we speak a timely word, serve our neighbor, wash some feet, or laugh with our kids.
When we then stray or get selfish or whatever, it’s a short list to correct because God shows us, perhaps he disciplines or corrects us. We adjust and we continue abiding.
This is not to suggest that we do not engage in formal “Christian activities” such as missions, service, Bible study, corporate worship, etc. But those, too, are simply an extension of as you go type things.
What I often see in me and around me is way more complicated in terms of what Christ might be calling us to.
These are by no means some definitive position, but a small slice in time of one man working through his current life-season — attempting to be faithful to the One who called and saved him.