“Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is – Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable – ‘I have been crucified with Christ.’ Is He going to help Himself to us, or are we taken up with our conception of what we are going to be?” -Oswald Chambers
A few months ago I was reading the bible/studying/journaling at my grandma’s house. It was in the kitchen; it was a cold winter day and it was rather early- and I was helping out that day with my great grandma. I was reading through 1st Timothy. God gave me a rhema (and although this concept is not new to mature Christians, it was to me!) and opened up a whole new level of realizing how incredibly selfish and me-based I was.
“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began...” (2 Timothy 1:8, 9 KJV)
Verse 9 hit me hard. Ok. Our works. It denotes good works. Yes… We have plans and desires and goals and everything else under the sun. We have the things we do for God that are normal, they sound great.
It’s according to HIS purpose. His plan. His fore-ordained plan. (Romans 8:28-30.) He saved us, and by his grace which we have freely received we can be partakers of the afflictions of the gospel. We can be soldiers of Christ, endure hardness, and to preach the “foolishness” of the Gospel- Christ crucified, risen again. (2 Timothy 2:1-3, 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5.)
Our plans, our laid out future, our comfortable Christianity, out pitiful works are laughable. (Today’s Christianity can be related to Psalms 14. But that’s another topic.) We are too prideful for God to be able to touch our reputation, too lax to claim God’s promises and watch him work mightily, too weak-kneed to stand up for truth. Am I guilty? Yes.
“God has an amazing plan for you.” How many times have you heard that? Many times I’m sure, and I’m sure you’ve said it yourself if you’re the average Christian. We smile.
But what if we truly meant it in the context? Instead of it meaning, “You’re doing a lot of good in this world”, or “You have your life laid out perfectly to serve Christ,” it means, “GOD has an amazing purpose for your life.” Not YOU.
Because too often in our Christian life we are tied down with good intentions and admirable plans. But God isn’t impressed with that. He looks and sees what could be done through our life and laughs at our works. They’re good, yes- of course. We love good works. You know, give extra money to the visiting evangelist. Support a kid going to camp. Teach a Sunday school or help out in children’s church. Go to school to become a preacher, get a degree.
An I saying those are wrong?
No, obviously, no. But are they what God called you to do? Is that what he wants you to do? Full well if so. But he has a holy calling on your life- and if the Christian life is a conception of your own of what you should be or should do, and you’ve felt that gentle tugging or felt there was, perhaps- just a little more to this Christian life, then maybe you are consumed with your self seeking Christianity. Am I guilty? Yes. We think we are doing good and we have good intentions. But good intentions are not God’s holy calling.
All of those who God used mightily had to let go of their desires and thoughts on what a Christian life should be like. Abraham, Moses. David, Josiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel. Paul, Timothy, Peter, James. People in history like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, or John Bunyan. Charles Spurgeon, Oswald Chambers. Missionaries like Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Gladys Alyward, Jim Elliot. Will we all be preachers, teachers, missionaries like them? No. That was God’s holy calling on them.
Amy Carmichael freely talked about this. In her memoir written by Elisabeth Elliot, “A Chance to Die,” she writes:
“This zealous work with young people went on for more than a year. Amy poured herself into it, but felt that she was not really building as she had determined to build, in gold, silver, and precious stones. Something told her that all this activity might amount to nothing more than a heap of wood, hay, and stubble unless she began living a a holy life, a life that would help others. She was full of misgivings. The list of her activities must surely have seemed an impressive one to those who looked on, but to the girl herself they were nothing. They were empty. Nobody was truly being helped as she believed they should be. What had she missed? How could she live the life she longed for? How to be holy? Was there any hope of it for her?”*
What is it in Christianity that we are missing? Are we fully dead to our own desires? (Col 3:1-3.) What true, lasting fruit do we have in our work? (John 15:1-4, Romans 6:21.) Is every single area of our life and heart open to God working in them? (Psalm 51:6.) Is Christ our life, our only reason for our existence? (Col 3:4.) Are we dead to our own works and sin and fully committed to glorifying God on the earth and finishing the work he has for us to so? ( Romans 6, John 17:4.)
That verse, it’s haunting. Not according to our works, but his holy calling. Our works don’t even come close to his purpose.
Our go-to-church-on-Sunday/read-through-the-bible-in-a-year/tithe-a-lot works are good and “normal.” Too often we do that and that’s it. Why, is there more expected of me? Why, yes there is! Most definitely…
I covered a lot of things with this. Sort of ramble-like. I haven’t really blogged in I don’t know how long, my writing is quite rusty. (: I am going to close now, but one more quote:
“If you want Jesus on your terms, then you don’t want Jesus.” (Eric Ludy.)
Amen. Amen. That quote is resoundingly true. Our terms- we want his blessings on what our work is, when he has a far greater plan and purpose. Our ways are definitely not his ways. He works differently because he’s God. Don’t you think it’d be ok to trust God with your future, life, and time- since God knows your future, gave you life, and is eternal? Hmmmm…. (:
*A Chance to Die, page 32-33, written by Elisabeth Elliot. Copyright 1987 by Elisabeth Elliot.