Short and sweet, I hope, today. If I remember correctly, the opening sentence of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Life was “It’s not about you.” That thought must have sent shuders through some folks who desperately needed affirmation that their life mattered, but the deeper truth of this sentence is actually very affirming. I’ll be the first to say unequivocally that anything, and I mean anything and everything, I’ve ever “done for Christ” came straight out of the power of the Holy Spirit and not out of me. BUT God did move through me, and if that isn’t affirming, I don’t know what could be!
I remember praying for my neighbor Lisa one morning when she came to my front door, and as I prayed, her eyes widened and she said,”I felt something just lift off me!” I didn’t feel a thing, but what I felt didn’t matter a whit; what mattered was that God’s Spirit WAS ministering in power in Lisa’s heart, mind, and spirit. Where I came into the plan of God’s purpose was in being a willing, available empty vessel – and yes, that matters. God says so in his Word.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength'” (Revelation 3:7–8).
“…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
“I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
I’ve heard so many friends protest that they can’t “do anything for Jesus” because they don’t have the talent, the gifting, the courage, the boldness, the time, the Bible verses quickly in their memory, the resources. Well, that’s the whole point of simply being available and willing: God DOES!
Yesterday my friend Debbie asked if we could go down to the park I’ve been visiting for the last year, to give out some small Bible’s she had and a page of wonderful scripture verses, along with some granola bars. We met Shawna, Patrick, and Clare, prayed with each of them, gave out theBibles and scripture sheets, granolabars,soap,handlotion,and prayerfulloy the love of God, talked, shared, and were so blessed ourselves! I was so glad, so moved, that Debbie wanted to go! Truth in advertising here, it’s only been in the last year that I’ve found the joy of meeting with, getting to know, and sharing some practical things like food and soap with the homeless. It’s only in the last two years that I screwed up my confidence in Jesus IN me enough to start asking people I meet on the street if there is anything I can pray for them. I had no problem for decades praying for my nice “church lady” friends, but with strangers? It only took me 45 years to come into the realization that people are people, people have needs and hurts, and many people DO want to know there’s a God who actually cares about THEM.
What has it cost me? Getting over myself mostly, getting over the ”what if’s” like what if they reject me, what if they look at me like I’m loony, what if they think I’m some kind of religious fanatic weirdo. I can imagine – because the Bible tells me so – that some people thought Jesus was an irreligious fanatic weirdo when he said things and did things that ran counter to the purely legalistic thinking that ran through much of Israel. Touch a leper? Talk with a “woman of the streets”? Publicly forgive an adulteress? Say a foreign occupier Roman centurion had great faith? Eat with a tax collector?
Jesus lived our example:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2: 5-11 NIV
Even for Jesus, it was about revealing the Father in him. When you receive Christ as your Savior and God’s Holy Spirit comes into you to take up residence and begin creating a new person in you, you can count on it that God wants to move in your life and through your life, to do the same thing: reveal the Everlasting Father God.
No one can argue that the apostle Paul, arguably the most powerful missionary in the early church, was filled with God’s Spirit after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul himself considered all his education and wisdom and position as worth nothing when it came to truly being effective for God.
5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan,to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 5-9 NIV
What mattered was that he was available and willing to let God’s Spirit move through him.
And it’s never, ever been about me. THAT is what’s so COOL and absolutely amazing when God does move through simply just ordinary me, and it humbles me even while it affirms to me that God’s love is there for me. AllI’m saying today instep worrying that you don’t have what it takes to share Jesus’ love with your neighbors, your colleagues, strangers in the grocery store. If you have Jesus, you have everything you need and more to share his love, compassion, grace, forgiveness, strength and power. I double dog dare you to give it one try, ask God to show you someone you can carry some of his love to, and just do it, even do it scared, and be ready to be amazed at what happens!
A “…BUT…” to pray: Okay, God, I am scared to step out and tell someone about Jesus, I am nervous about meeting someone outside of my own”group”, I do think I dont’ have enough ____________________BUT if you nudge me, I will trust YOU in me enough to get over _________________________________________________________ and try _________________________________________________. Please feel free to show up and show me who YOU are IN me! In Jesus’ name, amen!