We are so unbelievably blessed. For most who read this you will never experience the hardships of the generations that led to you or the cultures and peoples around the world who face adversity in the ‘ordinary’ pursuits of life. From schooling and living conditions to something as simple as clean water, we are astronomically blessed.
The blessing that we experience also carries a significant risk. The risk is that as followers of Jesus we will settle for the safety of our life’s gravitational pull. From family to school to career…we can easily slip into decades of meaningless monotony that we will deeply wish had been God-directed rather than fear-driven.
Saved to Serve
There are a few key verses that God has been bringing to my mind lately that have really challenged my perspective in the realm of taking real risk for Him.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph.2:8-10
Paul seems rather convinced of two things: we didn’t save ourselves and we weren’t saved to do nothing. Paul isn’t implying we should begin some awkward checklist but he is challenging us to consider the purposeful path that He has set for us from before the foundation of the world. It is a daunting perspective to consider that what we do in our life now has the cosmic potential to line up with the will of a sovereign God’s perfect plan for humanity – it’s bigger than us. What is it in your life that God has aligned His heart with your world to make a real difference? The safety of routine and predictability will always be a tempting alternative to the ultimate fulfillment available in the risky will of God.
6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil.1:6
I love the idea that God is the one working in and through us to bring about greater things for His glory and kingdom. We are passive agents in His active work, no matter how prideful we are about the work we receive from His Spirit. Later in the chapter Paul references people who are preaching for selfish gain and fame and his conclusion is that God’s plan and Gospel will advance REGARDLESS OF HOW OR WHO. This should be very humbling to us that God doesn’t need us, He WANTS us; what a great calling to pursue a God with infinite power and a plan that includes us at home, work, school, and to the ends of the earth!
Appreciating What Suffering Brings
1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Rom.5:1-5
Some have spuriously suggested that a life pursuing God is carefree and devoid of the kind of suffering that many who have followed Christ over the past two millennia have experienced but the Bible speaks specifically to suffering as an ingredient for our development and faithfulness. Choosing to step away from the routine and ask God where He wants you to go or what He wants you to do where you are will include suffering. Personal suffering isn’t an inconvenient speed bump on the highway of God’s plan for you; it marks the narrow path that His plan ALWAYS includes for the faithful follower of Jesus.
When is the last time you failed at something you really cared about and were deeply passionate about? If it’s been a while then your probably need to re-examine the course you are on and whether you are fully experiencing God’s plan for your life.
Is there someone at work or school who is offering new ideas and innovation that you resist simply because you haven’t done it that way before? That’s probably a good indicator of a block in your spirit toward new ideas and the kind of innovation God might be calling you to.
I believe that God’s purpose for us is greater than we could ever imagine and will require pain and suffering in the shadow of His cross. If you want a life without difficulty and without suffering then you should not follow Jesus but be prepared for a fruitless and hopeless existence, no matter how great your aspirations are. You will be hurt and hurt others and require the grace of God for everything you. Safe lives work to create boundaries so that failures are invisible to a watching world and grace isn’t required by anyone involved because no one gets close enough to care.
Faithfulness and Fruitfulness
Some may think that I’m suggesting we not work a consistent job or remain faithful when things become routine, this is not what I’m saying. Sometimes the most risky step you can take is to wake up right where you are and make a difference with the platform and sphere of influence you already have. God has put you where you are for a reason, start by asking Him what it is.