Yesterday at our church we began a six-week sermon series titled “The Hole in Our Gospel”. It is based on the book written by Richard Stearns, CEO of World Vision. This sermon series is definitely not for the faint of heart. It is heart-wrenching and it was only the first Sunday. It also has a small group component to it. My husband and I, along with another couple, are leading one of these groups. Simply because I want to be a good leader, I will be thorough about my participation. Full participation includes hearing the Sunday sermons, reading the book, attending the small group meetings where we watch a short DVD and discuss what we’ve seen and last but definitely not least, utilizing the Personal Action Journal. This journal is most definitely designed to convict followers of Christ and get us to really find the answer to the question, “What does God expect of me?”.
Let me back up a minute to the title of this post. In the first few pages of the book, Richard Stearns makes reference to the Johnny Cash song “No Earthly Good”. The lyrics of this song are powerful. They are so powerful, in fact, that they were part of our Sunday morning worship set. As our worship leader pointed out, Johnny Cash could really preach through his music (this coming from someone who is most definitely not a fan of country music). The gist of the song is that we, as Christians, can be so set on our paths to heaven that we don’t pay attention to what God put us here to do in the first place and what Jesus did his entire time on this earth. This leads me to the conviction that I’ve been facing. What does God expect of me? I know that the short answer to that is “much more than what I’m doing now”. As I begin this series of blog posts, yep it’s going to be a series, I want to make one thing very clear. I DO NOT believe that we get to heaven through good works. “I’m basically a good person” just does not cut it. I DO believe that we are saved by grace through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. I DO also believe that once we’ve received that saving grace that God requires us to do something with our transformed lives, not go back to status quo – committing the same sins that we committed prior to receiving His salvation and banking on the fact that we will receive His forgiveness.
Day One: The question that struck me was, “Have I shrunk Jesus down to the size where He can save our soul but now don’t believe He can change the world?” (Anonymous). My first response was NO! I believe in the full power of God. However, that is definitely not how I act or even think. For years now, I have kind of given up hope that unsaved people in my life, for whom I care very deeply, will ever be saved and be followers of Jesus Christ. Really? Does that mean somehow I am judging them and considering their sin worse than mine or that their life experiences have somehow been more difficult? No, I can honestly say that I don’t judge them. Yes, I do think that some of them have definitely had more difficult life experiences. But somehow I’ve calculated that to mean that those pains are too great for God to overcome. I’ve prayed for forgiveness from that and most definitely am praying for their salvation.
Day Two: Today is actually day two. Today’s lesson is about the lack of drinking water throughout the world. This broke my heart. One of the statistics that was shared is that every 21 seconds, someone dies due to a water related disease. So, to make my point to our seven-year-old, we counted slowly to 21 a couple of times. These people that are dying haven’t done anything wrong. They simply live in places where they either do not have water and are dying from dehydration or are drinking water filled with poisons. In the past, I’ve had to force myself to drink enough water because I would have rather had a Diet Coke or a cup of coffee. I run my water for a few seconds just to get it to the right temperature, watching it wastefully flow down the drain. I’ve recently seen the look of desperation on my younger brother’s face as he begged me for just a sip which I couldn’t give him because he was in pre-surgery-limbo. That was only after a few hours of not having water and while he was still on IV fluids which were keeping his body hydrated. I can not even begin to imagine the truly feeling of thirst and dehydration.
As I go through this journey, if you choose to read my blog, I pray that you will be convicted by it also. I know that not everyone believes how I believe. But followers of Jesus Christ or not, we are all very blessed and live in the land of excess. Do not apologize or even feel guilty about what you’ve been given. They are gifts from God. I pray that you will just do something with them to help “the least of these”.