Tuesday, June 17, 2008

hear and Obey

We are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

I spoke to my dear friend Jamin this past week while driving to Ft. Worth, and - as is ever the case with us - we found ourselves amazed at how God was working the very same things in our hearts and our lives. It has been thus as long as I can recall, even in times of conflict. Such a friend - such intimacy and fellowship - is a rare blessing. And we both have been pondering things we see in the church: needs, flaws, brokenness. We spoke about fellowship - and about fruitful fellowship. We spoke of prayer - and of effective prayer. We spoke on evangelism - and on evangelism not as conversionism but as disciple-making.

And then we spoke on something just as important as all of these. It is important to strive for a vision of all that God is calling us to: excellence and Christ-likeness not only as individuals but corporately. But it is not enough to identify the places we are failing, nor even to recognize what needs to be done. We may stand about and analyze the problems and solutions all day. But if we do not act on the vision that God has given us, we are nothing. And, like a thunderstorm without rain, Christians who are all flash and talk but no fruit are a terrible thing: how great our frustration when the storm does not deliver on its promise! And how much greater the disillusionment of a world that sees us time and again make noises about the problems in the church but fail to ourselves actualize those changes!

Effecting change is difficult, of course. One must have a clear vision of the goal - and, more importantly, of the purpose of that goal. But one must also have the support and cooperation of others - including leaders, if one is a layperson, and including one's fellow leaders if one is in a position of authority. Beyond this, change requires patience and diligence, and it requires a deep and immense dedication to prayer: both for the seeking of God's will and direction, and to importune Him to bring about heart change. Without heart change, all the external changes in the world are meaningless.

And so we come to it: the great burden and great joy of our service in this life. We are called to execute the changes that the body of Christ requires. The call is on us to stop sitting and to go and be obedient to the call of the Holy Spirit as He in His grace opens our eyes to truth. If you see a need, perhaps it is time to stop complaining about it and to start filling it. If there is a lack in the body, perhaps it is you who is to meet it. If there are problems, perhaps it is your responsibility to step up and by the grace of God help fix them. Instead of throwing down a gauntlet and pointing the accusing finger, perhaps if one has vision that his brethren lack he simply ought to begin walking and let the results speak for themselves.

I am not saying that there is no place for conversation or contemplation. I am saying that faith without works is dead and that even if we accomplished great things for the Kingdom of God, it would be worthless if not done in love and grace. When we see a brother - or a congregation - struggling, we ought to simply dive in, get our hands dirty, and work - all the while, praying fervently and with passion for God to move. What right have we to criticize so angrily who will not ourselves set our hands to the plow and toil for the good of the Church and the glory of Christ Jesus? Do we really live to serve and obey Him whom we proclaim as not only Savior but also Lord?

His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. Let us follow Him. Let us be known by our love for one another. Let us be like Him: serving where there is a need.

- Chris

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