Overwhelmed. Overwhelming is the only thing I can come up with to describe the things that I am seeing and hearing in world events. My heart almost feels crushed under the weight of such suffering around the world. My prayers sometimes don’t get past “Jesus.” There are not words when others are fighting so desperately for their very next breath.
I just watched a video in which aid was delivered to Iraqi people trapped on Mt. Sinjar. Some of the people were hauled into the helicopter as the aid packages were thrown out. People everywhere were running to find rescue. Some had to be left behind. I watched as a hand grabbed the doorway of the vehicle and a soldier pushed it away. Full. They have no more room for you and your family, sir. You will have to stay and try to survive. My heart breaks in two and for that moment, I forget that Jesus is the Hope and the Answer. I forget that even though the people on that helicopter may feel some relief that they are physically safe, they may be in just as much danger as they were before they got on. I forget that in all reality, the tiny amount of time we spend on this earth is completely dwarfed by a larger ETERNITY. They may not know the only Hope of this world. They may still be walking dead men.
When I get to this place, where my FEELINGS overwhelm my BELIEFS, I have entered the enemy’s territory. I have a choice whether to stay there and waste away or whether to redirect back onto the path of effectiveness.
In Biblical times, there was very little NEWS. The people who followed Jesus in the Bible did not have the benefit of having a “God-like” perspective of the entire world. They simply lived their lives in obedience to Christ. The early Church had a laser sharp focus on spreading the Gospel and getting the truth out wherever Christ called them. They might have had local distractions and detractions, but they were not bombarded with the plight of everyone in the world. They were joyfully naïve.
Please hear me or you will misunderstand me. I am NOT advocating that we put our heads into the sand. The advances of technology that we have…the internet, media, social media, news reports from all nations…they are all tools that God uses for getting His Message out. And since the society in which we live is so informed, we must be too. We must be able to adjust our methods while keeping our unchangeable Message.
However, I think that the same tools that God uses are twisted by the enemy for his use. Satan has no creative powers. You will notice, if you look closely, that everything he organizes is on the back of something God created for good. Even radical Islamic terrorism is a twisted, evil version of Biblical concepts (someday I would like to write more on this to clarify but I don’t have time in this post). So if the enemy cannot stop us with his arsenal of weapons, he simply will overwhelm us. He will render us useless with humanitarian emotions, social justice urgings, and heroic desires to change the world.
Show me, please, in the Bible where God ever said, “Go and change the world.” Brothers and sisters, show me where that is our mission on this earth. Because that is what we are teaching our children that the call is. “I’m going to change the world.” “She’s going to change the world.” “We’re going to change the world.” “Change the world, one life at a time.” I, myself, am guilty in getting caught up in this overwhelming feeling that I need to be changing the world. There is this dread in my gut every day that I might stand before God and be one of those people all the blogs are accusing of missing the real call of Christ.
No doubt that Jesus DID call us to the poor…to the broken hearted…to the back doors and the alley ways…to people of all cultures, nations, and tongues. No doubt that the Bible is filled with people who DID change the world. But they didn’t set out to be world changers. I doubt that any of them felt worthy enough to change anything. Even the good Samaritan (who was not necessarily a real person at all, but a character in Jesus’ story) did not set out that day to rescue a man on the side of the road. He just happened to come across him and already had the heart within him to do something. And when you read about the real heroes of heaven…the ones who the Bible did not have time to tell about…the ones “who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.”(from Hebrews 11)…these people did not know they were changing the world.
These people just knew that they were obeying Jesus and trusting Him to do what He wanted with the world.
Our mission is not to BE JESUS to anyone. Our mission is to FOLLOW JESUS to anyone so Jesus can be Jesus to them through us. Noone should see us, thank us, be indebted to us without us redirecting and pointing to OUR RESCUER. Our mission is to walk worthy of our calling…to keep our light shining…to listen to His voice and to OBEY it. Our mission is to “love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Here it is from Jesus in His own Words… “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Somewhere while we were all sleeping, the mission changed to “Go and change the world.” And suddenly, there is this distraction from the Gospel as we are trying to do a job that is reserved for God alone. “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.” (found in Isaiah 40).
As we take on a mission that says “Change the world.”, we are weighted under the pressure of a world that is not getting better. So we must not be doing our job. Sin is winning so we have to shine our light LOUDER. “It must be all the other Christian’s fault because I am doing what I am supposed be.” We feel this peer pressure that says “Have YOU been to the international mission field yet?” and even “Have YOU risked your life to save anyone yet?”
Instead Jesus gives us rest from this burden. He says “Go where I tell you, say what I tell you, do what I tell you, love everyone I give you, and above all LOVE ME with everything you’ve got… and I will worry about the world.” (that’s me paraphrasing a lot of Bible verses)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this mission brings risk and it brings persecution…even from the people who go to your church or well-meaning bloggers that want to change the world. The way that the world is going, it may soon bring threat of prison or loss of family or loss of freedom or financial cost or maybe even death. When we begin to OBEY Christ in ALL THINGS, we start to walk down a narrow road that few people ever find (Matt 7:14) and that means few will agree with it and few will understand it. Remember what Paul warned us in the Scripture in my last blog…not all men have faith. When we take on the mission of Christ, we count all things as lost BUT Christ and the spreading of His Name. Whether that means He calls me to Albany, Georgia or to Liberia, Africa…whether he calls me to grow a small business and use the money to further the Gospel or to sell everything that I have and start a church in the inner city…that is His business and His call… I am just to obey. And to drift a bit off topic, I am also called to support and encourage other Christ followers in their specific mission…whether I think that they are getting off easy on the task list or not.
We aren’t counting all things loss if we are carrying a mission of “change the world”. We are basically setting ourselves up for a faith crisis when the piece of the world that we are working does not change. When we obey Christ and leave the results in His Hands…when we obey Christ and let that person make their own decision…when we obey Christ and still watch people die in sin…when we obey Christ and pour out our best on everyone He calls us to while knowing there are millions of people that we will never touch…when we obey Christ, my friends, we have completed our mission.
I can’t end without mentioning a friend of mine who is changing the world every day, but never knows it. When I think of people “on mission”, she is one of the first who comes to mind. She has been at the same church for YEARS working the same children’s ministry. She has probably shared the Gospel with THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of young children. She is instant in season and out of season. She may have not ever been out of Albany, Georgia…I seriously do not know…but I know that this woman adores her Savior and that she obeys His call. She recently told me that she knows that she is very aware as her time grows shorter on this earth, but she has not retired. She is still at this church every time the doors open…serving the children…serving the parents…giving deeply of herself for the Kingdom. Should she be criticized because she isn’t fighting Ebola in Africa? God forbid. Though our human nature would say “Well, I’d say she has an easy job compared to trying to save dying children…she must not be following her calling.” Remember Peter who was told that he would die an awful and untimely death and then looks at John who lived a much longer life and says “What about him?” What did Jesus say to Peter? “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? YOU follow Me!” John 21:22
Certainly, we are human. We feel deeply. We have the gift of putting ourselves in the shoes of others and feeling their pain. This is God given and it is beautiful…but if it isn’t focused on our mission, it will completely overwhelm us and render us ineffective. The devil’s biggest game right now is not ISIS… it’s the overwhelming of Christians who are sitting back and saying “What could I do? I’m just little ole me.” instead of asking “Lord, what are you calling me to do? I serve THE Creator of the world.The nations? They are like a drop in His bucket.”