Friday, September 3, 2010

Approved Of?

It's been a little while, folks, and for that, I apologize. The first two weeks  of school have been wonderful. My schedule is relatively easy -- for one thing, I have no classes on Friday, and I am actually at the Eden Clinic right now -- and all my classes (two about writing and two about ancient Greece) are enjoyable and intriguing.

I have a weight on my mind right now. As you may know, I struggle with believing that I must do things to be approved by God. For years, I've been a performer and perfectionist, accomplishing as much as possible in hopes of becoming a better Christian, a better daughter, a better friend.

As I read Titus this week, I noticed how many times believers are instructed to do "good works." The author makes it very clear that we are to do these things as a response to the gospel, not as a means to salvation or approval. It is a still a command, though. Do good works.

Chris and I were talking about ministry and marriage yesterday, and how we desire to become more missional in our everyday lives, seeking to engage and share the gospel with nonbelievers. I became quite discouraged. In my mind, a voice began to whisper about what a horrible person I am for not sharing the gospel enough. I found myself growing angry with Chris and God, feeling as if they were demanding something of me that I had to "achieve" in order to be acceptable.

That's where I'm stuck. Of course, I'm completely accepted by God. Yet, I must make an active effort to grow in the Christian life, and that means to grow in evangelism. The thought terrifies me. Does this mean I can't grow at all until I improve in evangelism? Why am I so resistant to the idea that I have a lot of room to improve here? Why do I try to shrink back from the eyes of God when the topic comes up? There is a rock sitting in my heart in this spot, and I don't know why. I love God. I want to share about him. Right now, though, I'm just confused.

What does God want of me?

1 comment:

  1. It’s really wonderful how earnestly you want to serve God, to go beyond simply “getting into Heaven” and into serving him with everything that you do. What I don’t understand is why you seem to equate “doing good works” with “evangelizing to people.” Certainly, trying to bring nonbelievers to God is a wonderful thing to do, but it is hardly the only type of work that Christians are called to do – or even the most important.

    Let me explain. In America (and most of the Western world), everyone is familiar with at least the basic Gospel message. They may not understand it in its full depth and richness (who among us can claim that they do?) but they at least know the standard “For God so loved the world…” and typically are only turned off by people who try to share the Gospel with them in a pushy way that assumes that they just haven’t heard the Good News. In fact, if you sit and really talk with people who are not Christians, 9 times out of 10, you will hear that the reason for their lack of faith is not ignorance or a clinging to worldly things, but rather that they were pushed away because of the very worldly behavior exhibited by the Christians around them: hypocrisy, back-biting, manipulation, and just a general failure to love and serve the way we are called to do. Even in the early church, when no one had heard the Gospel message, typically people were most swayed because of how different the Apostles seemed. That is what drew them in, and it is if anything even more so today, as the world is becoming more and more aware of what the Bible says (at least on a surface level). What they need to see is lives transformed by loving and being loved. What they need to see is a joyous hope that spills over into everything we say and do. What they need to see is people who have truly rejected the world – not out of prudishness or arrogance, but because we have found something so incalculably better. What they need to see is true transformation.

    That is how you serve Christ, and that is how you can evangelize for Him. That isn’t to say that we should never spread the Gospel in more direct ways: see, for example, 1 Peter 3:15, which calls us to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Just note that, even there, it is assumed that we will be filled with such an other-worldly hope that people are drawn to us, so that they can understand it. And that is what opens up the conversation.

    Or consider the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46.) When Jesus shares how we will be judged on the last days, he says that he will say to the righteous that “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Nothing, not even once, about evangelizing. We are judged on whether we love and serve those around us. If you want to do more for Christ, start there.


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