These are the situations in which we need to rely on the Spirit of God to love through us.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
How ordinary are you?
Is it possible to become a Christian and not be changed?
Do you understand the gravity of that question?
Is it possible?
I would say of course not...and then I look at my own life.
Could someone really tell the difference between my life and that of an unbeliever?
In our Tuesday night Bible study, we are reading through The Forgotten God by Francis Chan.
Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit
I am only through the second chapter, but if you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.
It's not a feel good book. Not one that as a Christian you can read with an open heart and not be convicted about something.
Chan addresses the issue of Christians being just as ordinary as the world:
"If the Holy Spirit is being neglected in our churches and in our lives, is it any wonder that we don't look much different from the rest of the world? Too often we work in our own strength to be the kind of people who stand out-the kind of people who look like Jesus. This is the right goal, but when we try to do this without relying on the Spirit, we're missing the whole point. Doesn't it strike you as odd that although we want to live out the attributes of Galations 5:22-23, we don't rely on the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit?"
I am guilty of this very thing. When I think of how I look different from the world, I tell myself "yeah, I visit the elderly at the nursing home, I teach Sunday School, I'm a volunteer at the Pregnancy Resource Center and occasionally even a homeless shelter, and my husband and I even sponsor a child in Africa!
So there. I'm different!"
But wait...in that list of "good" that I am doing, aren't there thousands of unbelievers doing the EXACT same thing?
My human attempts at being a Christian and doing "good" things still fail at setting me apart from the world!
All of those things can be accomplished in our human strength. What do we need the Spirit of God for?
Well let me ask you this. What happens when you are on your way to church or one of your volunteer opportunities and the neighbor from across the street stops by to ask for your help? Not just any neighbor; the neighbor you don't like. Yeah, that lady who yells at her kids. Her yard is trashed and she plays her music too loud. Her dog even poops in your yard and she doesn't pick it up! She has given you the stink eye several times and has made fun of you for your Christian beliefs. You can't stand this lady.
You can't love her in your own power. So do you just brush her off? Do you tell her you are running late and can't help her right now?
If I'm being honest with myself, I have definitely done things like that before. I have brushed off the opportunities right before me to do my "good deeds" for God when in fact those are the very situations that He can be most glorified in.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?"
I want to challenge you to think about who the "unlovable" people in your life are right now. How can you, through the power of the Holy Spirit love them? That is stepping out of the ordinary.
An ordinary person can help the poor and needy, sponsor a child etc...but it takes the extraordinary Spirit of God for you to love that person you can't stand.
Let's stop trying in our own power to be "good Christians" and let God work through us to be extraordinary!